Transfiguration monastery was founded in 1192 by Martiry Rushanin, who built the wooden Transfiguration Church. At the time, the area belonged to the Novgorod Republic, and the construction of the church was approved by Grigory, the Archbishop of Novgorod. In 1193, Martiry himself was promoted to be the Archbishop of Novgorod and Pskov. Presumably, the wooden church burned down, and in 1198, Martiry founded the stone Transfiguration Church, which still exists. In 1442, the church was considerably rebuilt. Between 1611 and 1615, during the Ingrian War, Staraya Russa, and the monastery in particular, were occupied by Swedish troops. The monastery was badly damaged and rebuilt subsequently in the middle of the 17th century. The Transfiguration Church was considerably altered. Some of the existing churches were constructed in the 17th century. The wall and the towers originate from the 19th century. The monastery was abolished after the 1917 October Revolution, and the buildings were badly damaged during the World War II. Most of the cell buildings were subsequently demolished.
The oldest building of the monastery is the Transfiguration Cathedral, which was founded in 1198 by Martiry and completely rebuilt in 1442, so that only the lowest parts of the walls survive from the 12th century. In the 1620s, after the Swedish occupation, is was rebuilt again, and the dome was altered, but the main features of the exterior and the interior were preserved. The cathedral was damaged during the World War II and underwent extensive restoration in the 1960s. Subsequently, it was transferred to the museum.
The Church of the Nativity of Christ was constructed around 1630. It is a small brickstone church with one dome. In 1892, it was re-consecrated and became the church of Saints Cyril and Methodius. It was also damaged in the war and restored in the 1960s. The Presentation Church, which currently hosts the art division of the museum, was built in the same period and also has one dome.
The two chapels, the Alexander Nevsky Chapel and the Saviour Chapel, as well as the Church of the Staraya Russa Icon of the Virgin, were built in the 19th century.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.