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The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius

During many centuries the Trinity Sergius Lavra has been one of the most important Russian relics. The faith of this architectural ensemble reflects 7 centuries of the Russian history.

Moscow region, Sergiev Posad, Troitse-SergievaLavra
+7(496) 540-57-21, +7(910) 471-01-70

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, in church literature usually called Saint Trinity Sergius Lavra, is a large Stauropegic monastery of Russia (Russian Orthodox Church), located in the center of SergievPosad in the Moscow region, near the Konchura river. It was founded in 1337, when Sergius of Radonezh settled in Makovets. However, some historians think that it happened in 1342. 



Saint Sergius of Radonezh

The history of the main Russian orthodox monastery is connected with the name of Saint Sergius of Radonezh. It was founded in 1337, but some historians think it happened a few years later. According to the legend, Sergius, who had a secular name Varfolomey when he was young, and his brother decided to become monks. They picked a secluded spot in a forest, built a cell in the name of Saint Trinity there. Soon his brother left for Epiphany Monastery in Moscow, leaving Sergius on his own. 

Sergius of Radonezh was humble, patient and hard-working. In his pursuit of holiness ideal, the hermit firmly resisted temptations and didn’t live in idleness a single hour. The rumor about the hermit from Radonezh forest spreaded.Enochs started visiting him — and that’s how the monastery appeared, forming a settlement around itself. Sergius’s followers insisted on him becoming a priest and a Father Superior of the monastery. To see him, many people came there from far away, and Troitsky monastery became a center of the Moscow lands.

Saint Sergius died on September 25, 1392. Before his death he willed that the community should preserve the purity of the Orthodox faith, observe the purity of soul and body, love unhypocritically, be humble and hospitable. In 1422, during the constructions in the territory of Troitsky cathedral, saint relics of Sergius were found, and became the main sacred object of this church.

Architectural ensemble and sightseeings of Lavra

In 1422 the first building of the monastery made of stone — Troitsky cathedral — was built here instead of an old wooden church. It was painted by significant icon-painters,AndreyRublev painted his famous “Trinity” for the iconostasis. Troitsky cathedral was highly respected by Moscow princes, contracts were sealed by kissing a cross, christening of crown princes happened here. 

White church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles on Sobornayasquare was built by craftsmen from Pskov in 1476—1477. The building of Uspensky cathedral started in 1559, its history is connected with the name of Ivan the Terrible.

In the 1540s whitestone walls were built around the monastery. In the 1550s a 1,5-kilometre- “girdle” in a shape of irregular quadrangle was built. At the same time the monastery turned into a fortress: there were dammings in ravines close to the monastery and a big lake on the southern side. In the middle of the 17th century the fortress was strengthened and improved, started looking as it does now. 

At the end of the 17th century a chapel was constructed above the spring, opened in 1644 during the renovation of the church-porch of Uspensky cathedral. According to the legend, its healing water cured a blind monk, so many suffering people from all over Russia started coming here.

Church-over-the-Gates was built in 1699 financed by patrons of art Stroganovs. Now penance of many devotees and piligrims happens here every morning. The monastery got its lavra title in the 1740s. Empress ElizavetaPetrovna used to visit the lavra, and her visits were accompanied with fireworks and pompous meals. Behind the monastery walls there was a palace of entertainment surrounded with greenhouses. Court architect created a project of a new monastery bell tower — the one Tsar Bell was made for. Five-tier bell tower, the highest in Russia, is in the centre of the architectural ensemble of Trinity SergiusLavra.

Many buildings of Lavra were supposed to be rebuilt. A big fire in 1746 destroyed all the wooden buildings, so the renovation was inevitable. After a global reconstruction monastery buildings started looking like palaces. The walls were painted in bright colors, decorated with gilded moulded details, the decoration was pretty pompous. On the territory of lavra there were pavements of white stone, the alley was decorated with forged railings, in the main square there was an obelisk with medallions, telling about the history of the monastery.
On the website of Lavra you can choose one of the tours or a pilgrimage trip. For example, a sightseeing tour with visits to 3 main cathedrals, “One day in Lavra”, pilgrimage to Gefsimansky-Chernigovsky cell, visiting of the springs, a tour for schoolchildren “Icons and cathedrals of the Lavra”.

How to get there

By car: Yaroslavskoeshosse (M8 highway), in 45 km turn to Sergiev Posad
By public transport: a suburban train from Yaroslavsky train station, exit on Sergiev Posad station. Or bus 388 from VDNKH metro station to Sergiev Posad.


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