Architectural Ensemble of 
the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad (1993)
Russia

Сергиев Посад

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This is a fine example of a working Orthodox monastery, with military features that are typical of the 15th to the 18th century, the period during which it developed. The main church of the Lavra, the Cathedral of the Assumption (echoing the Kremlin Cathedral of the same name), contains the tomb of Boris Godunov. Among the treasures of the Lavra is the famous icon, The Trinity, by Andrei Rublev.  

One wonders where the tourist route around Moscow got its name "The Golden Ring". Here, in the central part of the Mid-Russian Plain, there are no gold mines nor has life ever been particularly opulent. Yet, the ring of old Russian towns is pure gold in terms of their role in the development of Russian statehood, the advent of enlightenment and the arts; to this day, the towns of the ring are inhabited by a people who have until recently been known as Great-Russians. It is here that the origins of the Great-Russian nation and the Russian state are to be found. 

Russia 2002. The Sergiev Lavra of the Holy Trinity in Sergiev Posad.

The route includes the towns of Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov Velikiy, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Suzdal and Vladimir, of which Sergiev Posad, Yaroslavl, Suzdal and Vladimir are designated World Cultural Heritage. Each of these is an architectural pearl and each conjures up myriad names and events in medieval Russian history. They have gone through many difficult periods in their lifetime. Ravaged by Mongol hordes, treacherous neighbours and Polish invaders, they rose from the ashes time after ime, as if illustrating the celebrated Russian knack for survival. Their worst years, however, were during the era of "militant atheism" at the outset of Soviet power. 

USSR 1978. Zagorsk, fortress-monastery. Russia 1996. Boris Godunov (1551-1605). Russia 1978. Zagorsk, Gagarin Palace of Culture.

Churches were demolished, monasteries were closed, bells were broken. The towns lost their very names. Ancient Sergiev Posad was renamed Zagorsk in 1930 in honour of a Communist activist killed during the Civil War. When the town got its ancient name back in 1990, many did not even know that such a name existed. Despite all this, the ancient cities survived, having preserved at least part of their matchless monuments and local colour and evoking the air of days long gone by. Gradually, Russia is becoming aware of its historical heritage. People are rediscovering their roots, both in history and in culture. Ancient names are being restored to towns and cities. The Church is regaining control of its desecrated cathedrals. Once again, the mellow chimes of church bells call the Russian people to repentance.  

Russian Folk Art. Lacquer Works from Fedoskino. Evening Bells of the Trinity of St. Sergius Lavra, Sergiev Posad.

Russia. Sergiev Posad. Photograph of the Trinity Church with the grave of Sergey Radonezh.

The monastery in Sergiev Posad is one of the most interesting places in the vicinity of Moscow, situated about 70 km (45 miles) to the northeast of the capital. It was founded by the Venerable Sergey of Radonezh in the 14th century; in 1744 it was awarded the honorary title of "lavra", which in translation from Greek means "main, most important monastery". There are four such monasteries in Russia: Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra (in Kiev, Ukraine -- on this site), Aleksandro-Nevskaya Lavra in St. Petersburg, Pochayevo-Uspenskaya (on the Volyn), and the Trinity-St. Sergius in Sergiev Posad. 

The artists Andrei Rublev and Daniil Chyorny, whose works are found widely along the Golden Ring, lived and worked in this area. 

The architectural ensemble of the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra was completed by the late 18th century. Even though it comprises architectural monuments spanning several centuries, the ensemble itself is surprisingly unified. The oldest building is the monastery is the Trinity Church (1422-23), which stands over the grave of Venerable Sergey of Radonezh. Sergiev Posad is often referred to as "The Vatican of Russia". 

  • Photograph of the Trinity Church with the grave of Sergey Radonezh. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Russia (on this web site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Russia-section, for further information on such sites. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus 
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