Monastery in Sergiev Posad (World Heritage)

With the Trinity Monastery founded in the 14th century, Sergiev Posad has one of the most important religious centers of the Russian Orthodox Church. The highlights of the complex include the frescoes by Andrei Rublev and the tomb of Tsar Boris Godunov.

Sergiev Posad monastery: facts

Official title: Fortified Monastery of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius in Sergiev Posad
Cultural monument: Monastery complex, which on St. Sergius of Radonezh, among others. with the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption Cathedral, the 510 m² refectory with the Church of St. Sergius, with the bell tower, the tsar’s palace, the Pyatnitskaya, the carpenter, the pilgrim, the beer and the Krasnaya towers; Iconostasis and fresco paintings by the famous icon painter Andrei Rublev (between 1360 and 1370 to 1427/30) are well worth seeing
Continent: Europe
Country: Russia
Location: Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow
Appointment: 1993
Meaning: a very impressive example of an Orthodox “fortified monastery” and resting place of Tsar Boris Godunov

Sergiev Posad Monastery: History

1422-23 Trinity Cathedral construction
1458 Construction of the Nikon Chapel
1476-77 Construction of the Holy Spirit Church
1559-85 Construction of the Assumption Cathedral
1598-1605 Reign of Tsar Boris Godunov
1605-81 Nikon, Patriarch (1652-66)
1608-10 Siege by Polish troops
1686-92 Construction of the refectory with the Church of St. Sergius
1693-99 Construction of the Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
1814 Establishment of the Theological Academy in the Tsar’s Palace
1896 Establishment of a church in the tsar’s palace
1920 Dissolution of the monastery, conversion into a museum
1948 Resumption of teaching at the Spiritual Academy on the monastery grounds; today around 200 monks of the Brotherhood of the Trinity Monastery

Defensive center of spiritual Russia

This monastery complex, which is usually equated in rank with the Kiev Pechersk Lavra and the St. Petersburg Aleksandr Nevsky Monastery, is of great cultural importance for Russia. The spiritual center goes back to the famous monk Sergius von Radonezh, who founded a hermitage around 1340, from which the monastery later emerged. Before the battle against the Tatars in 1380, the later canonized hermit blessed the Grand Duke Dmitri Donskoy and predicted the victory over the Golden Horde for him. The prophecy came true – one of the reasons Sergius was made a patron saint of Russia.

The monastery favored the colonization of the Russian north during the Mongol rule and provided the theological justification for Moscow’s dominance in the Rus. Behind the monastery walls, Tsar Peter I sought protection from his scheming half-sister Sofia and the rebellious Strelitzen in 1689. The French traveler de Custine rightly called it a “patriotic monastery”. In accordance with its importance, the monastery was a “Lavra”, a main or honorary monastery, and was one of the most important institutions of ecclesiastical life in Russia. As an active monastery, the extensive complex is still the focal point of the Russian Orthodox Church.

From a distance, the visitor approaching the monastery can see the around 90 meter high bell tower, a striking eye-catcher of the entire complex. The construction was completed in the middle of the 18th century. The monastery, which is surrounded by a high wall, is usually entered through the Holy Gate. In the passage of the gate church of the birth of John the Baptist built at the end of the 17th century, frescoes depict the life of St. Sergius. The center of the monastery complex is the Assumption Cathedral, which was donated by Ivan the Terrible after his victory over the Tatars The Moscow Kremlin Cathedral of the same name, the coronation church of the tsars, was modeled on it. While its five domes shine in gold, of the domes of the sister church in Sergiev Posad only the middle one shines in gold, the four secondary domes are blue. Outside the church, on the northwest corner, is the tomb of Tsar Boris Godunov. After his assassination in 1605, the hapless tsar was refused a burial place in the Archangel Cathedral in Moscow’s Kremlin. But can there be a better place for a deceased tsar than near the patron saint of Russia?

The ensemble of monastery buildings is particularly remarkable for its unity. A building that also deserves attention among the numerous churches, administrative buildings, towers and gatehouses is the dining room, the refectory, with the church of St. Sergius. The simple, single-domed Holy Spirit Church, which was built in the second half of the 15th century by builders from Pskov, is also noteworthy. But the most important building after the Assumption Cathedral and nucleus of the monastery, in which services are constantly held, is the single-domed Trinity Cathedral with the Nikon Chapel. Andrei Rublev, who lived in this monastery as a young monk, returned there in old age to decorate the interior of the church with frescoes that have hardly survived today and to create numerous icons.

According to computerannals, two famous men of the Russian Orthodox Church were buried in this cathedral: Sergius, the founder of the monastery, in a precious sarcophagus; the bones of Nikon, Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia lie in the neighboring chapel. As a representative of the official church, Nikon, actually Nikita Minow, mercilessly persecuted the Old Believers as apostates in the 17th century, thus triggering the division of the church. Two of the most important representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church are buried in close proximity – one grave is a pilgrimage destination for thousands of believers, while the other is more of a must.

Monastery in Sergiev Posad