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Russian Sacred Places: Nikolo-Ugreshsky Monastery - an Epitome of History
August 3, 2011 12:28

Nikolo-Ugreshsky Monastery is situated in Moscow area, in a picturesque town Dzerzhinsky.

Brief History

  • According to the legend, in 1380 Dmitriy Donskoy was on his way to Kulikovo field ito give a decisive battle against the Tatars. He made a stay at the place Ugresha and suddenly he saw an image of Saint Nicholas in his pious dream. He "is reputed to have called out in ecstasy Ugresha ("this sets my heart aflame").The dream impressed the Prince so much that he decided to found a monastery at this place. The exact date of its foundation is the 9th of August of 1380.
  •  In 1479 . the monastery is mentioned in the chronicles and the annuals say that it had its own town church in the Kremlin. In the 16th century the Great Moscow Prince Vasily III, the father of Ivan the Terrible, visits the monastery. 
    In  1521 .  Nikolo-Ugreshsky monastery was burned down during the raid of the Crimean khan Makhmet-Girey. In the same century Ivan the Terrible granted a charter, which allowed the monastery to possess several villages and forbid strangers to go to the monastery forests and cut down there. This monastery was a special place for the Tsar, he went there several times to make a prayer beside the icon of Saint Nicolas the Miracle-Worker. It helped him many times, for example in 1546 Ivan the Terrible went to the monastery and after that headed for Kolomna, to his army, to fight against the Crimean khan.
  •  In 1610 . the monastery is a temporal residence of the tsar-impostor Lzhedmitry II, who had escaped from Kolomenskoe. Polish embassadors came to the monastery, trying to persuade him to deny all the pretensiion to Russian throne. But Lzhedmitry refused. Then united Russian and Polish armied encircled the monastery walls and the pretender had to run away.
  • The monastery remained as the place of visits of the Tsars. In the 17th century the Tsar Mikhail Romanov visited the cloister and his visit coincided with the consecration of Nikolaevsky cathedral, part of the monastery. Since then the visits bacame permanent and lasted during the whole century.
  • In 1812 . the monastery was attacked by the Napoleonic army and one of the detachments was staying at the territory for a while.
  • A great role in the life of the monastery belongs to the metropolitan Philaret. Every building and every construction of that time were held only with his blessing. He was canonized by Russian Orthodox Church. Nowadays his relics are in Christ the Saviour Cathedral. In the second part of the 19th century ,under the Father Superior Pimen, the monastery was flourishing. It was famous all over Russia for its sacred objects : miracle-working icons of Saint Nicolas, Ugresha icon of God's Mother " Tenderness", Jerusalem's icon of God's Mother and many others. In one of the cathedrals were kept pieces of saint relics of Saint Nicolas Miracle-Worker, protomartyr archdeacon Stefan, great martyr Varvara and others. In the beginning of the 20th century the number of piligrims wishing to get to the monastery was so big, that the cloister had to organize a special route.
  • In the Soviet period it was closed (1925), then it was occupied by the labour commune. In the recent decades of the century it was used as a place for accomodation and various city services. It was reopened in 1991 and this date is considered as the second rebirth of the monastery. It was restored and in 1999 a seminary started its work there.

     What To See

  • Saint Nicolas Cathedral
  • Transfiguration Cathedral
  • Church of Joy to All Sorrows
  • Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral
  • Assumption Church
  • Kazanskaya Church

 The stone one-dome Saint Nicolas Cathedral was built in 1520-1530. The it turned into the place of keeping of the main monastery sacred objects.It was destroyed in 1940 and was reconstructed a few years ago in a previous architectural style.

Transfiguration Cathedral was founded in the ned of the 19th century by the architect Kaminsky. It is the biggest temple on the whole territory of the monastery. It was constructed with five gold domes, its height was 77 metres. The inner decoration was made by icon painter Safonov with the help of the drawings of Kaminsky. He also made icons for the hand-made iconostasis. The inner space of the cathedral was so enormous, that it took six bronze censers for its illumination. In the Soviet period the decoration was totally destroyed, in 1925 there was a club there and so the cathedral was reconstructed. The club burned down, and a canteen was set there and later - a factory workshop. Only in 1990s the cathedral started to get restored and nowadays only monumental painting is left to be done in the interior recreation.The frescos will be made in the technique of oil painting, in palekh style with a large amount of sugary gold.

 Church of Joy to All Sorrows is a five-domed temple under the hospital monastic cells, situated in the centre of the eastern monastery wall. It is interesting for its wedding forms. It was closed in 1920s and restored in 1999.

Saint Peter and Paul Church is a wooden one-domed church, built with the help of donations. It was a small secluded monastery, located in the distant part of the territory.

Assumption Church is the oldest one. Assumption Church was on the cloister's territory in the 17th century and century later it was reconstructed to make it warmer inside. Carved Tsar Gates, the work of Russian masters of the 15th century, were granted to the church in the 18th century from Ivanov monastery. There is a three-storey iconostasis in the name of Saint Mary Egyptian inside.

Kazanskaya Church was founded in 1869-1870 with the help of the philanthropist Rogatkin. Two monastery buildings border it from both sides. One of the buildings served as an almshouse. The temple has a room in the form of a marquee, with five domes, the iconostasis was made of white marble. 

Monastery Museums

The first museum of the cloister was Museum - Vestry, where diferent church antiquities and pices of art are kept.

The monastery,being one of the glorious cloisters of Moscow area, always had a rich vestry. But after the Revolution of 1917 it was brought to ruin. In the 90s a new vestry was planned to be built. Little by little, a new collection of unique objects started to be formed.

The main part of the exhibition is a collection of icons. The most ancient one is Vladimirskaya icon of Most Holy God's Mother of the 16th century in a silver framework. One can also see wonderful pieces of church art of the 17th century : the icons of Saint apostles and evangelists Matthew and John the Divine; expressive image of apostles Peter and Paul; rare iconic image of Saint John Zaonikievsky. There is a rich icon collection of Saint Nicolas the Miracle-Worker, heavenly patron of the cloister.

Apart from the icons one can get acquianted with the works of applied art such as communion table Gospels in silver frameworks, the largest one weights 30 kilos.

In the end of the exscursion the visitors get into the adjoining to the last hall ancient tower which was reconstructed into summerhouse. As the monastery legend says, in 1666 in the ground floor of this tower the archpriest Habakkuk was incarcerated.

The second museum that is worth visiting is Museum of the Emperor Nicolas II.

In 2008 philanthropist Renzhin transfered a great collection dedicated to the Emperor - martyr Nicolas II and his family to the possession of the monastery. Postcards, photos,potraits, books, personal things, objects of everyday life, about two thousand documental evidences tell about sad and joyful life of the imperial family. There are also coronational memorable objects: faience glasses and plates, decorated with arms and monograms of Nicolas II and the Empress Alexandra; cups and saucers from the service with the arms of new standard, introduced in 1856. Tourists can see as well numerous photos, cards and engravings of the period og the First World War.

Both museums are open for visitors every day, on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 17 p.m.

How To Get There

By Bus

You can get on the bus 470, which departs from metro station "Kuz'minki", or you can get on another bus 305 beside the metro station "Lyublino".

By Train

You can take the train from Kazansky railway station till the station "Lubertsi -1" and then by the bus 20 or 21.

sources: ,

Alexandra Dibizheva

Tags: Nikolo-Ugreshsky monastery Russian monasteries Russian sacred places   

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