Sergiyev Posad, The Holy Trinity Lavra is the most important part of the Golden Ring of Russia
These ancient towns, which also played a significant role in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church, preserve the memory of the most important and significant events in Russian history. The towns have been called "open air museums" and feature unique monuments of Russian architecture of the 12th–18th centuries, including kremlins, monasteries, cathedrals, and churches. These towns are among the most picturesque in Russia and prominently feature Russia's famous onion domes.
According to Lonely Planet Russia & Belarus, "If you have time for just one day trip out of Moscow, this is the obvious choice." UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1993, calling it "a fine example of a working Orthodox monastery, with military features that are typical of the 15th to the 18th century."
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl, and currently is home to over 300 monks.
Sergiev Posad climate is moderate continental. For the city is characterized by mild winters with lots of snow and warm summers with rainy July. The coldest month of the year - January (average temperature is about -8 ° C), the warmest - July (average daytime temperature of about +23 ° C).
In Sergiev Posad (Zagorsk) at various times lived and worked such famous people as artists AV Lentulov, Mikhail Nesterov, a renowned expert on ancient sewing facial NA Mayasova, writer and naturalist M. Prishvin The Russian consul, writer and philosopher K. Leontiev, philosopher and writer VV Rozanov and famous actress MAT AK Tarasova, VP Trofimov artist, architect and restorer of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius IV Trofimov , the schedule and the designer VA Tabor, a scientist and religious philosopher, PA Florensky, philosopher LA Tikhomirov, national artist of Russia painters NI Barchenkov and E. Zakharov, a former world record holder weightlifting A. Aivazian, Fr. Alexander Men.
The monastery was founded in 1345 by one of the most venerated Russian saints, Sergius of Radonezh, who built a wooden church in honour of the Holy Trinity on Makovets Hill. Early development of the monastic community is well documented in contemporary lives of Sergius and his disciples.
In 1355, Sergius introduced a charter which required the construction of auxiliary buildings, such as refectory, kitchen, and bakery. This charter was a model for Sergius' numerous followers who founded more than 400 cloisters all over Russia, including the celebrated Solovetsky, Kirilov, and Simonov monasteries.
St. Sergius supported Dmitri Donskoi in his struggle against the Tatars and sent two of his monks, Peresvet and Oslyabya, to participate in the Battle of Kulikovo (1380). At the outbreak of the battle, Peresvet died in a single combat against a Tatar bogatyr. The monastery was devastated by fire, when a Tatar unit raided the area in 1408.
The heart of Holy Trinity Lavra is the Holy Trinity Cathedral (Troitsky sobor), built in the 1420s and distinguished by its gleaming-white exterior topped with gold domes. It contains the revered holy relics of St. Sergius in its southeast corner.
A memorial service for the saint is conducted in the cathedral all day, every day. The interior, lit by oil lamps, is covered in icons that are largely the work of the great medieval painter Andrei Rublev.
Behind the Trinity Cathedral is the Vestry (Ritznitsa), which contains the monastery's rich treasury. On display are 600 years worth of donations from the rich and powerful — jewel-encrusted vestments, fine tapestries, solid-gold chalices, etc. Admission is R150; open Tues-Sun 10-5:30.
Another important church is the Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspensky sobor), modeled on the church of the same name in Moscow. It was finished in 1585, with money donated by Ivan the Terrible as penance for killing his son. Services are held here in the summer, but it is often closed at other times of the year. Outside the west door is the grave of Tsar Boris Godunov, the only tsar not buried in Moscow's Kremlin or the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
Nearby is the Chapel-at-the-Well (Nadkladeznaya chasoynya), built over a miraculous spring that is said to have appeared during the Polish seige. It is topped by a five-tier baroque bell tower, which took 30 years to build. It once had 42 bells, the largest of which weighed 65 tons.
Taking over the hosting of services from the Assumption Cathedral in the winter is the Refectory Church of St. Sergius (Trapeznaya tserkoy Sy Sergia). A huge block-shaped structure with wallpaper-like paint and a lavish interior, this was once a dining hall for pilgrims. The green building next door is the metropolitan's residence.
The Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit is a little 15th-century church with a bell tower under its dome. A graceful imitation of Trinity Cathedral, it is used only a special occasions. Among its interior features is the grave of the first Bishop of Alaska.
St. Sergius was declared patron saint of the Russian state in 1422. The same year the first stone cathedral was built by a team of Serbian monks who had found refuge in the monastery after the Battle of Kosovo. The relics of St. Sergius still may be seen in this cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The greatest icon painters of medieval Russia, Andrei Rublev and Daniil Chyorny, were summoned to decorate the cathedral with frescoes. Traditionally, Muscovite royals were baptized in this cathedral and held thanksgiving services here.
In 1476, Ivan III invited several Pskovian masters to build the church of the Holy Spirit. This graceful structure is one of the few remaining examples of a Russian church topped with a belltower. The interior contains the earliest specimens of the use of glazed tiles for decoration. In the early 16th century, Vasily III added the Nikon annex and the Serapion tent, where several of Sergius' disciples were interred.
Trains run to Sergiev Posad about every half-hour from Moscow's Yaroslvl Station.
The journey takes about an hour and costs R30. Look for any train bound for Sergiev Posad or Alexandrov.
The fastest option is the daily express train to Yaroslavl (R90 for 1st class; R60 for 2nd class), which takes 55 minutes.
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