In the time of Peter I the new capital, St. Petersburg, was built at rapid pace, in spite of all difficulties. Seven years after the city was founded, in 1710, Peter the Great ordered to begin the construction of a monastery at the confluence of a small river Chernaya (Black) and the Neva. It is believed that on that place on July, 15, 1240 Alexander Nevsky won the victory over the Sweden troops headed by the Jarl Birger and stopped their expansion to the Russian lands.
As the place was historically related to Alexander Nevsky, in 1723 Peter I ordered to move his relics to the new monastery on the Neva and since then it was called the St. Trinity Monastery of Alexander Nevsky.
On December, 18, 1797 the emperor Paul I granted it the rank of Lavra. It is the highest rank of a monastery. In Russia this rank in 1744 was also granted to the Holy Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiev Posad. Pskov Caves Monastery is also often called Lavra, but it hasn’t the officical rank of Lavra.
The project of the monastery was created by Domenico Trezzini, the first architect of Petersburg, who designed the Peter and Paul Cathedral and some other well-known buildings. In order to connect the Alexander Nevsky Lavra to the Admiralty district there was laid the Nevsky Avenue, which is now the main thoroughfare of the city. Today Alexander Nevsky Lavra has only one church designed by Trezzini.
In 1776 there was laid down the Church of the Holy Trinity. Its construction was commissioned to the architect I. Starov. In the foundation of the church there was the silver reliquary containing the relics of the apostle Andrew the First-Called, celestial patron of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral wasn’t only the main church of Alexander Nevsky Lavra but also one of the biggest cathedrals in St. Petersburg. It was built in the classic style and had the length of 74 m and the height of 61 m. On August, 30, 1790 the Holy Trinity Cathedral was consecrated in the presence of the empress Catherine II.
Apart from the churches of Alexander Nevsky Lavra you should visit its necropolises or cemeteries. There are 4 cemeteries on the territory of Lavra: St. Lazarus Cemetery, Tikhvin Cemetery, St. Nicholas Cemetery and Communist Cemetery. Two cemeteries are at the entrance of Alexander Nevsky Lavra: one of them is that of St. Lazarus (also known as the cemetery of 18 century) – it is the oldest cemetery in Petersburg. There were buried such persons as the scientist Mikhail Lomonosov, the wife of the great Russian poet А. Pushkin Natalia Lanskaya, the mathematician Leonhard Euler, and many other renown people of 18 century.
Until 1937 the Necropolis of the Masters of Arts of Alexander Nevsky Lavra was called the Tikhvin Cemetery. There are many graves of well-known art workers: Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Borodin, Karamzin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Krylov, Balakirev, Delvig, Dargomyzhsky, Zhukovsky, Komissarzhevskaya, Kustodiev, Lyadov, Mussorgsky, Voronikhin, Cui, and Petipa. Generally, there are over 100 burials of all famous art workers of 19 century. It was there that the remains of the Russian composer Glazunov were transferred from Paris in 1972. The famous stage director Tovstonogov was the last who was buried at the Necropolis of the Masters of Arts in 1989.
The Communist Cemetery is directly opposite the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. It arouses mixed feelings.. But in any case, it is a part of Russian history.