Mozhaysk and its outskirts. Borderline
Mozhaysk ancient settlement — Novo-Nikolsky cathedral — Luzhetsky monastery — Isavitsy

Mozhaysk is unfairly considered to be something like a must-stop on the way to Borodino. But once you find yourself at the main square of this ancient town, you’ll immediately realize: you can spend an unforgettable day here.

1. Mozhaysk ancient settlement
  • Petropavlovsky (Staro-Nikolsky) cathedral
Sergey Proskudin-Gorsky, Mozhaysk panorama, 1911
At the entrance to Mozhaysk, the highway turns into Moskovskaya street, which leads to the historical center of Mozhaysk — an ancient settlement with Novo-Nikolsky and Petropavlovsky (Staro-Nikolsky) cathedrals above. If you want to take some nice tourist pictures, you need to walk about 200 metres through the center towards Borodino — and you will see a wonderful view of ancient Mozhaysk. By the way, a famous Russian photographer and traveller Sergey Proskudin-Gorsky took a photo of a town panorama in 1911. 

Standing here, think of the history. The town was founded in 1231 in the upper reaches of the Moscow river. In 1303 it became a part of Moscow principality and an important strategic point on the west of Moscow — at that time the town was at the peak of its powers, being one of the spiritual centres of Russia. Saint Nikolay Mirlikiysky’s epiphany with a sward and a temple in his hands happened here (he is more famous as Nikola Mozhaysky). Since Ivan the Terrible times Mozhaysk was a famous outpost of Moscow lands, proving this status for a long time. In 1612, for example, Minin and Pozharsky’s militia set Moscow free from Poles, chased interventionists to the west and put the army of hetman Khotkevitch to rout near Mozhaysk. During the Patriotic War in 1812 Russian military units were formed here before Borodino battle. Borodino field is in 10 km from Mozhaysk. In the summer of 1941 the town became a center of  Mozhayskdefence line, which contained Hitler’s Army Group Centre, which wanted to get to Moscow.
2. Novo-Nikolsky cathedral
  • Novo-Nikolsky cathedral is seen from almost every point of Mozhaysk
Novo-Nikolsky cathedral was built instead of Nikolsky gates of the Mozhaysk citadel of the 14th century and partly consists of its walls (the citadel itself was destroyed in 1782 because of its falling into decay according to Ekaterina II’s command).
The building of the great temple, which can be seen from almost every point of Mozhaysk, lasted from 1779 until 1812. Pseudo-Gothic architecture imports unexpected traces of Italy into Central Russian landscape. But it all falls into place if you realize that the temple was built by DomenicoGilardi — the one who reconstructed Moscow University after the fire on Mokhovaya street in 1812. Petropavlovsky (Staro-Nikolsky) cathedral looks very tiny comparing to this giant. Though, its history is much longer. The temple is as old as Mozhaysk citadel, It was founded in the 1th century. The building destroyed, rebuilt, but now it looks like the original one.


3. Luzhetsky monastery
  • Luzhetsky Ferapontov monastery
The second important destination in Mozhaysk is Luzhetsky monastery, founded by St. Ferapont Belozersky in 1408. Andrey Mozhaysky asked Ferapont to come from Belozerye to Mozhaysk to build a cloister in the name of the Birth of the Mother of God. This journey, seeming difficult even now, was made by Ferapont was 77. He died in 1426 at the age of 96. His relics are in Rozhdestvensky cathedral of Luzhetsky monastery.

From the direction of the Moscow river there is a beautiful view on the functioning monastery and a five-domed Rozhdestvensky cathedral, built in 1524 — 1547. You can approach the monastery from the opposite bank of the river (after the bridge at the road to Ruza turn left near Ilyinskaya sloboda). A wonderful bottomland meadow falls to the water, but the fast stream and many springs make swimming here very refreshing. For the total immersion in the atmosphere of the medieval Mozhaysk relish the opportunity to use the service of a horse-club Avanpost near the cloister, quite famous in the Moscow region.

Where to eat

“Zolotoe Runo” (Akademika Pavlova street, 11) great service and food.
4. Isavitsy
  • Источник в Исавицах
Nowadays this place is quite popular both with Mozhaysk dwellers and Moscow citizens (judging by the cars numbers). So, be ready for the problems with parking. 
In one kilometer from the monastery, in the floodplain of the Moscow river there is a village Isavitsy, where, according to the legend, in 1408 Saint Ferapont made a spring. Next to it, at the well-organized territory, there is a chapel, font and a monument of the Saint. You can buy delicious monastery pasties, which are good to be washed down with cold spring water. You can also buy 5-liter canisters here if you want to take some water with you. 

How to get there

By car: 75th km of Minskoeshosse near Krutitsy village move to Mozhayskoeshosse  — this is way longer, but the views are much more enjoyable. Now, enjoy the view until you get to Moskovskayastreet in the center of Mozhaysk. 
By public transport: from Belorussky railway station, directions Mozhaysk, Borodino, Gagarin. The journey from Fili station would last 1 hour 45 minutes. To get to the city center from the platform, use the buses 29, 2, 5, 21, 1. The ticket costs 175 roubles.

Author: Maxim Gureev

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