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:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).