Khutyn Monastery

Velikiy Novgorod, Russia

Khutyn Monastery of Saviour's Transfiguration and of St. Varlaam used to be the holiest monastery of the medieval Novgorod Republic. The cloister was founded in 1192 by the monastery's first hegumen, the former Novgorodian boyar Oleksa Mikhailovich, whose monastic name was Varlaam. The main church of the monastery was consecrated by Archbishop Gavril of Novgorod the following year, the same year Varlaam died. He is buried in the main church of the monastery, the Church of the Transfiguration, to the right of the altar. He was the patron saint of Novgorod and the patrilineal ancestor of many families of Russian nobility, including Chelyadnins and Pushkins, of which Alexander Pushkin was a member.

According to Varlaam's saint's Life, Ivan III visited the cloister and wished to see the relics of Saint Varlaam in 1471. When they opened the saint's tomb, it was full of smoke and fire. Afraid of inflicting divine wrath, Ivan III fled the monastery and Novgorod altogether, leaving his staff as a curiosity to local monks. This staff was exhibited at the cloister's sacristy for centuries to come.

Ivan's son Vasily III ordered the old main church of the monastery demolished and replaced with a noble six-pillared edifice. The new church, completed by 1515 and consecrated by Metropolitan Varlaam (the archiepiscopal office in Novgorod was vacant from 1509-1526), was evidently patterned after the Assumption Cathedral in Rostov. It was the first piece of Muscovite architecture in the Russian North-West and a venerated model for many subsequent churches in the region.

The annex of St. Gabriel, added to the cathedral in 1646, received its present name after the poet Gavrila Derzhavin had been interred here in 1816. The refectory with St Varlaam Church was built on behest of Ivan IV in 1552. The Neoclassical belltower dates from the reign of Catherine the Great.

The vicar of the Novgorodian diocese was, at times, titled Archbishop of Khutyn and lived in the Khutyn Monastery. For example, Archbishop Aleksei (Simansky) was Archbishop of Khutyn from 1926-1932. He administered the diocese while Metropolitan Arsenii was imprisoned and in exile in Central Asia. Aleksei was briefly Archbishop of Novgorod (in 1933) and then Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus' (1945-1970).

During the first decades of Soviet rule the monastery housed a lunatic asylum. It was later a vacation home or hostel for visitors to the area. It was restored to the church in 1993. While for most of its history it was a male monastery, it is currently a women's convent.



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Founded: 1192
Category: Religious sites in Russia


4.9/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Igor Sharov (23 months ago)
I like it
Julia Zolotova (2 years ago)
Neat, calm and comfortable. Joyful people. Gingerbread with apples is amazing, very tasty honey. We were there in the morning, so we managed to buy some milk. It is also one and a half times cheaper than, say, in Valdai. Near the river, beautiful views. The monastery itself is small.
Маргарита Миронова (2 years ago)
It was here, around 1190, on the high right bank of the Volkhov, that the monk Varlaam settled for solitary prayer. With the help of prayer, having expelled evil spirits, Varlaam cut down a cell for himself, erected a wooden church in the name of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Already in 1192, the construction of the stone Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior began. This cathedral has not been preserved, in 1515 it was dismantled, and a new one was erected in its place, which, however, was repeatedly rebuilt in subsequent times. During the Great Patriotic War, the monastery was almost completely destroyed and until the 1980s it was a ruin. In 1994, after restoration work, the monastery again became active (though not for men, as it was before its closure in 1925, but for women).
Olga Ivlieva (2 years ago)
It is a very beautiful place and the people here are very friendly. Here you just want to be and admire. What kind of flowers and small figurines of hedgehogs are there. Everything is made with great love. Burials at the monastery are hidden behind neatly trimmed trees and look very narrow. Peace and tranquility reign here. I advise everyone to visit here and relax your soul. You can also buy pastries and honey here. I advise everyone to come here!
Дмитрий Кобзарев (2 years ago)
Quiet, calm, peaceful place. It is warm in the temple, even in winter. A place steeped in history. For restoring peace of mind - a great option. Sincerely, Dmitri.
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