What You Will See
The famous Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km out of Moscow and is home to over 300 monks.
The monastery is surrounded by a massive wall and a series of watch-towers.
The Trinity Lavra in Sergiev Posad is a part of the legendary Golden Ring of Russia and a unique architectural masterpiece protected by UNESCO World Heritage organization.
Inside the Trinity Cathedral was painted by the great medieval icon-painters Andrey Rublev and Daniil Chorny. Rublev’s famous icon of the Trinity, painted to commemorate the battle of Kulikovo was replaced by a copy and is now in the Tretyakov Galley.
The 16th-century silver shrine of St Sergius graces the cathedral. The canopy was set up over it in 1737. It is one of the main places of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians. The monastery’s founder St Sergius is buried in a silver sarcophagus donated by the Empress Anna in 1730.
The Tsar’s Chambers, otherwise Chertogi Palace, are on the other side of the monastery, beyond the main bell-tower and are easily recognizable by the their colorfully painted and tilled exterior. They were constructed in the late 17th century for tsar Alexei.
Opposite the Trinity Cathedral there stands the Church of the Holy Spirit or the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, built in 1476 by Pskov masters.
The most important building in the ensemble is the stunning Cathedral of the Dormition (The Cathedral of the Assumption) of the 16th century.
The Cathedral with Its five domes covered in blue and golden stars was built in the 16th century by Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the taking of Kazan. The design was inspired by its namesake in the kremlin. Outside the cathedral is the Tomb of Boris Godunov and his family and a small chapel built in the 17th century over a holy well.
The most festive-looking building is the Refectory Church with its side-altar dedicated to St Sergius.
Noteworthy among the 17th century structures is a very tall five-tier bell tower. Began in 1740 by Ivan Michurin and completed only in the 1770s it became the dominant structure of the ensemble.
The monastery is enclosed with the fortified wall featured by eleven towers which were built in the 16th century. The wall consists of three defense tiers. The lower one contains deeply set casemates and embrasures, the middle tier is a vaulted gallery with loop-holes and the upper one is a gallery with battlements
History of the Place
It was founded in 1354 by St Sergius who had come to live in the ten deserted and desolate place from the nearby town of Radonezh. St Sergius was freatly revered by Russian people for his spiritual gifts and when prince Dmitry Donskoy went to fight with the Tartars, he came to ask for his blessing before the battle of Kulikovo Field prior to the first Russian victory over the Tatars.
Thereafter, the monastery became one of Russia’s premier places of pilgrims’ tours and refuge but it was also of strategic importance as a fortified outpost on the way to Moscow. During the Time of Troubles the monks held out for more than a year while under siege from the poles. Peter the Great took refuge here during the revolt of the Streltsy.
The monastery’s magnificent ensemble was built over six centuries. The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was erected to commemorate St Sergius’s immense service to the state. Here at St Sergius’s shrine Moscow princes kissed the cross swearing to keep their promises and treaties and prayed before going to wars and on coming back from them.
The Tour lasts 6 hours and during the tour you will
- see and feel the spiritual center of the Russian orthodox Church
- know that the place has got 2 names and what else is famous for
- get acquainted with St Sergius life and his influence on the Russian Orthodox Church and be able to touch the relics
- understand why it is called “The Vatican of the Russian Orthodox Church”
- be treated
- to the tasty bread, baked in the monastery and try famous kvass - a traditional Russian drink
- visit the majestic Cathedral of the Assumption, which according to the legend was painted by the team of craftsmen for 100 days
- see the iconostasis, consisting of 40 icons by Andrey Rublev of the 15th century which has been preserved