Kirillov Belozersky Monastary

Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery used to be the largest monastery of Northern Russia.

 

The monastery was dedicated to the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, for which cause it was sometimes referred to as the Dormition Monastery of St. Cyril. The monastery was founded in 1397 on the bank of Lake Siverskoye, to the south from the town of Beloozero, in the present-day Vologda Oblast. Its founder, St. Cyril or Kirill of Beloozero, following the advice of his teacher, St. Sergius of Radonezh, first dug a cave here,

then built a wooden Assumption chapel and a loghouse for other monks

The vast walled area of the monastery comprises two separate priories with eleven churches, most of them dating to the 16th century. Of these, nine belong to the Assumption priory by the lake. The Assumption cathedral, erected by Rostov masters in 1497, was the largest monastery church built in Russia up to that date. Its 17th-century iconostasis features many ancient icons,

arranged in five tiers above a silver heaven gate endowed by Tsar Alexis in 1645.

A lot of valuable objects kept in the sacristy are personal gifts of the tsars who visited the monastery.

The monastery walls, 732 meters long and 7 meters thick, were constructed in 1654-80.

They incorporate parts of the earlier citadel, which helped to withstand the Polish siege in 1612.

At first construction works were supervised by Jean de Gron, a French military engineer known in Russian sources as Anton Granovsky. The fortress was the largest erected in Muscovy after the Time of Troubles; its walls feature numerous towers, each built to a particular design. The most remarkable are the Chasuble, the Tent-like, the Vologda, and the Smithy towers.

The larger part of the monastery is administrated as the Kirillo-Belozersky Museum of History, Art, and Architecture. The monks were readmitted into the higher, or Ivanovsky, priory in 1998. As of 2011, the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was one of the four acting monasteries in Vologda Oblast.