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Alexander Nevsky Lavra

Alexander Nevsky Lavra

Alexander Nevsky Monastery, which became one of the first building sites in the Northern Russian capital parallel with the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Admiralty and Basil Island, was founded by Peter the Great''s decree in 1710 on that very place where, according to the legend, prince Alexander of Novgorod gained a victory in the famous Glacial battle over the Swedish troops in 1240. So the Monastery was named in honour of the Great Prince Alexander Nevsky (the sobriquet “Nevsky” being derived from the Neva river), who was canonized by the Orthodox Church for his patriotic deeds.

The gorgeous ensemble of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, the first wooden buildings of which were erected on the left bank of the Black (Chornaya) River (now the Monastyrka river), is a result of fruitful collaboration of the outstanding Russian and foreign architects and therefore it is a wonderful example of merging and interaction of different architectural styles. It was Domenico Trezzini, who made the design of a monastery town that was taken as a basic one, and who built in 1724 the first stone church in Lavra, the Annunciation Cathedral in the style of early Russian Baroque. After the consecration, on August 30, 1724 the relic of Prince Alexander Nevsky, encased in a magnificent sarcophagus, was brought to the church.The construction of the stone Monastery town went on, and the architect Shwertfeger designed a new cathedral and changed the configuration of the aisles of monastery cells so that the form of "circumferences" repeated the shape of the river bank. In 1740-1750 architect Pietro Trezzini built South-eastern aisle and the second corner church – Fyodorovskaya. In 1755 architect M. Rastorguyev designed the western aisle of monastery cells and "The Bishop''s House" in Baroque style. At the same time the northern and southern aisles with open galleries and corner towers were built. In 1790 the Trinity Cathedral was built in the style of Russian Early Classicism by Ivan Starov. This architect worked as well on the main entrance to the monastery, the stone wall and the adjoining Alexander Nevsky Square, which architecturally connected the monastery with the center of the city. He also united the aisles of monastery cells with the walls of the oldest cemeteries of St Petersburg.

There are several cemeteries located on the Alexander Nevsky Laura territory.The most famous names reside in the Tikhvin Cemetery, established in 1823. This cemetery is also known as Masters'' of Arts Necropolis, where during the nineteenth century there were buried many famous Russian writers and poets I. Krylov, N. Karamzin, V. Zhukovsky, F. Dostoyevsky; the composers M. Glinka, M. Mussorgsky, A. Borodin, P. Tchaikovsky, A. Dargomyzhsky, the artists I. Kramskoi, A. Kuinji, the art and musical critic I. Stasov, famous actors and actresses. In 1935 the cemetery was made into a necropolis of prominent art figures, and the remains of many outstanding people were brought there. Directly oposite this cemetery is much smaller Lazarus Cemetery, the oldest in the city, established by Peter the Great, whose sister Natalia was buried here in 1716. Here are the tombs of the famous scientist M.Lomonosov, architects I.Starov, A.Voronikhin, A.Zakharov, sculptors M.Kozlovsky and F. Shubin.

Nowadays the ensemble of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, that functions as an orthodox monastery belonging to the St Petersburg eparchy, is one of the architectural, religious and historic centers of St Petersburg. At present time, services are being performed in the both temples of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, some important reconstruction works are being held on its territory; sewing, joiner''s, icon-painting and baguette-making workshops have been opened in the cloister recently. There is also an increase in the number of the monastery monks.

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