ALEXANDER NEVSKY MONASTERY, Alexander Nevsky Monastery

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The Alexander Nevsky Monastery complex comprises some of the oldest buildings in the city, as well as four cemeteries, two of which contain the graves of many of the major names in Russian culture, such as Tchaikovsky and Dostoevsky.

The monastery was founded in 1710 at the behest of Tsar Peter the Great, who named it after Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod and Vladimir, a Russian saint and national hero.

Following the construction of the original wooden church, the Church of the Annunciation, designed by the Italian architect Domenico Trezzini, was consecrated in 1724. It was then that Peter the Great had the relics of the saint, Alexander Nevsky, which had been kept in Vladimir since his death in 1263, transferred to the monastery.

In order to preserve these sacred remains, Empress Elizabeth had a precious silver shrine made in 1750. Weighing a ton and a half, the decorations on it depict the famous "battle of the frozen lake", fought on Lake Peipus in 1242, as well as other victories of the saint.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 16 churches in the complex, but many of them were plundered and destroyed during the Soviet period, and just five of them have survived to this day. The most important of these, which you must absolutely visit, is the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Inside this magnificent church, built in Neoclassical style at the end of the 18th century, you’ll find the precious remains of the Saint, kept under a red and gold canopy placed near the high altar, surrounded by beautiful marble and rich decorations.

The main tourist attractions of the monastery, however, are two cemeteries. The Tikhvin contains the tombs of the most famous figures, such as Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, Musorgsky and Dostoevsky, while the cemetery of Lazarus is the last resting place of some of the great architects who have left their mark on the city, including Starov, Quarenghi and Rossi. It is also home the most interesting funerary monuments from an artistic point of view.



Let me leave you with an interesting fact: to understand the importance of this monastery, it’s important to know that it is one of the few in Russia to have the title of "lavra", which is conferred only on the monasteries that are the seat of a metropolitan bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church.

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