Moscow to Sergiev Posad Monastery: Travel Guide in 2020
Short and Simple History of Sergiev Posad
St. Sergius was born in a rich boyar family in Rostov the Great. He was very rekigious from its youth having a lot of saint visions. There‘s a famous painting showing the young Sergius. I
n 20 years, his relatives passed away, so he decided to live in the wild and pray to the God. He also took his brother with him. They found a lonely place in 70 km from Moscow, built a wooden church in the honour of Triniry and started to live there. Soon, people learned about them and respected because of their faith.
Year by year, more people came to live and pray there with Sergius. Finally, they built a small wooden monastery. Sergius lived for 54 years in that place… many pilgrims travelled there including Russian Princes.
After Sergius death, he became even more honored. He was buried, but later his body was excavated and people found that it was not touched by time. His relics attracted even more piligrims.
At the beginning of the 15th century, the Tatars burned the town and all wooden buildings… Fortunately, Sergiev Posad was safe for the next 200 years that allowed it to become one of the most important monasteries in Russia. After the Tatars, people built the first stone church to keep the relics. It was the Trinity cathedral. The honour and importance of the place was so high, that best artists came to paint the new cathedral. People also built several smaller churches to keep relics of Sergius companions.
The Monasteries... why they're so important?
Monasteries… they were one of the main buildings in the ancient Russia. They could give a shelter to people in the times of War, many piligrims came there to pray, so people living nearby could trade and earn money to live better. Tsars and royal families paid a lot to be buried in the monastery walls or to have a shelter in case of feodalism wars and court intrigues.
Monasteries had many preferances related to trading and using the lands for agriculture and hunting. They didn‘t pay taxes and has their own peasants. Since Trinity Lavra was the closest monastery to Moscow, it was always of special importance to rich and royal families. As a result, more and more money and resources came to Lavra and its rulers.
Trinity Lavra as a Fortress
During Ivan the Terrible times, Lavra finally became the fortress. Monks and monastery peasants were allowed to take bricks and stone from wherever they want, so huge walls and towers were constructed as well as numerous smaller buildings. The Assumption Cathedral was built at that times… it was like the cathedral in Kremlin, but even bigger and taller.
In the 17th century, the Polish people came there with a war. The town held a siege for two years with more than 90 percent of people died. However, after the defeat of the Polish, they never came to Russia again.
The monastery grew until the 20th century. Soviet times were hard for Russian Orthodox. Soviet people checked all the relics and did not find any undecayed body. They closed the monastery for many years making the museum, cinema and a tyre in its walls. Only during WWII, Lavra returned its status.
Now it‘s one of the most important place for the Church.
Sergiev Posad Touristic Map
How to get to Segiev Posad
Sergiev Posad is located 70 km from Moscow. One day is enough to explore the city, so tourists rarely stay there for the night except they have a many-days Golden Ring Tour. Getting from Moscow to Sergiev Posad is fast and comfortable. There‘s several main options:
1) By train. Trains to Sergiev Posad run from Yaroslavsky Station every 20-30 minutes. Travel time is about 1.5 hours. High-speed Express goes there for only 1 hour. Ticket price is about 3 USD for local train and 4 USD for the Express Train. The journey from the Sergiev Posad railway station to the Lavra takes about 20 minutes. You can find schedule using this website: rasp.yandex.ru
2) By Bus. Buses to Sergiev Posad depart from the VDNKh bus station (bus No. 338). Travel time is about 1.5 hours. Tickets costs about $10.
3) By Car. The most comfortable way of traveling from Moscow to Sergiev Posad and observing its attractions. You need to go along the Yaroslavl highway for about 50 km and then turn to Sergiev Posad. The road takes from 1 to 1.5 hours depending on traffic jams.
St. Trinity Lavra
The best pictures of the Monastery you can take from the viewpoint on the Blinnaya Hill. From this place, you can enjoy the panoramic view to the whole Lavra. A lot of artists usually sit here to paint the Lavra.
The Trinity-Sergius Lavra is a normal monastery with about 300 monks. A lot of tourists are just pilgrims visiting the “cradle” of Russian Orthodox to see the graves of saints, pray in the ancient monastery walls, and touch the relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh.
Tickets to Lavra cost about 8 USD. There are several main cathedrals inside the Lavra Walls.
What to See in the St. Trinity Lavra?
It was built in the second half of the XVI century when Ivan the Terrible was the Tsar. The Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin is the prototype of this monumental building. You may see this cathedral as soon as you pass through the Holy Gates to the territory of the Lavra. The temple is very beautifully painted inside. The walls and the ceiling are decorated with 17th century frescoes, which were created by the best masters.
Trinity Cathedral is the oldest and the first white-stone church in Lavra. It was built before the middle of the 15th century. The main shrine of the Trinity Cathedral is the relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh. They are located in the southern part of the temple, next to the altar. There is always a queue of people willing to venerate the relics.
This temple is very beautiful. It stands out for its architecture and wonderful decorations with carving, baroque and paintings. The temple slightly resembles a palace and stands out from the general architectural ensemble of the monastic complex. This temple was built at the end of the 17th century due to the 300th anniversary of St. Sergius.
The canopy over the Cross and the Overlay chapel
This place is located in the central square of the Lavra. During the warm season, people collect the holy water here. The canopy was built in 19th century as a source of the holy water. The source itself is very old. You can bring bottles for water with you or buy on the spot.
The highest building of the monastery complex with a height of 88 meters. It was built in the 18th century, and for a long time it was the highest bell tower in Russia.
Piligrims in the line to St. Sergius relics
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