Stolobny Island is the home of Nilov Monastery, which was founded by Saint Nilus in 1594, and previously welcomed up to 40,000 pilgrims each year. Most of the buildings of the monastery were built in the 18th and 19th Centuries in a neoclassical style. Today the monastery complex remains one of the most impressive ensembles of Neoclassical architecture in Eastern Europe. Some of its churches date back to the 17th century. A graceful embankment was completed by 1812, and a large cathedral was built in 1821-25. The construction of the causeway to the island was completed in 1812. The Nilow Monastery was one of the largest and wealthiest monasteries in the Russian Empire.
In 1919, after the October Revolution, the monastery was confiscated. It was closed in 1927 by the Soviet government and subsequently used for various purposes. From 1927 to 1939 there was a work camp for underage criminals.
In the period 1939 to 1941, during the first years of World War II, the monastery was a prisoner of war camp of the Russian secret service NKVD, which held approximately 7,000 Polish prisoners of war who had been taken captive by the Soviet Union as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Almost all of the prisoners were subsequently executed in April 1940 in Kalinin (now Tver) and then buried in mass graves in Mednoye, an act which became known as the Katyn Massacre. Amongst those killed were Polish officers, lawyers, policemen, teachers, doctors, and other members of the intelligentsia.
From 1941 to 1945 there was a hospital in the building complex, and again from 1945 to 1960, a camp for minors and orphans. From 1960 to 1971 the monastery was used as a retirement home, and from 1971 to 1990 a hostel for tourists.References:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.