Trinity Sergius Lavra

Sergiev Posad, Russia

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Founded: 1337
Category: Religious sites in Russia

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ASAKAWA GODAI (2 years ago)
Visited here in September, 2014. This unbelievably colorful abbey (or cathedral?) is the center of the area called "Sergiyev Posad". According to what I have googled, this abbey is like a symbol of Russian Orthodox Church. You can go there by train from a station in Moscow, taking about 1 hour. It's long a little bit, but you don't have to change a train on the way, so it might be just a great chance to see beautiful sceneries of the Moscow suburb from a train window. Personally I guess those who haven't been to Russia can never imagine this country really likes something colorful, especially churches and palace, but it is not the case. Once you have come here, sort of stereotype in your mind would be changed.
Anna Antonova (2 years ago)
Beautiful place with reach Russian history. Spiritual centre of Russia
Farzad (3 years ago)
Attractive place to visit, even for those tourist who planned to stay longer in Moscow! There are some beautiful and historical Churches and buildings gathered in an exclusive area, like a small town!
G. Michael Brennan (3 years ago)
This is very interesting especially the history with the Polish. Incredible history and some of the oldest churches. A must see on the Ring!!!
Катя А (3 years ago)
The place is beautiful but from afar. Up close it's a real bazar. Huge crowds, people want to sell you something, long lines. Not a great experience
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