Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery

Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery is located 130 kilometers to the north of Vologda on the shore of Lakes Siverskoye. This monastery features the Russia`s strongest fortifications, as well as the largest territory surrounded by the fortified walls.

The monastery was founded in 1397 by two monks, Cyril and Saint Ferapont, who have come from Moscow. Later, Saint Ferapont left and 20 kilometers from Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery founded his own monastery, named after him St. Ferapontov Monastery. Ferapontov Monastery is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, thanks to the paintings of Dionysus, which survived to our time in the excellent condition.

Saint Cyril, a disciple of Saint Sergius of Radonez, was close to the boyar family of Velyaminov. He was the archimandrite of the Simonov Monastery, but in the age of 60 he resigned from his position at the rich Moscow monastery. As he wrote in his biography, he was induced to this by the vision of the Blessed Virgin who told him «to go to the north, to the White Lake, and found there a cloister where he could be saved».

As fate would have it, Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was involved in the state affairs. In 1446 Dmitry Shemyaka carried out the coup d`état and imprisoned the tsar Vasily II in Vologda, forcing him to kiss the cross and swear that he would never return to the throne. The archimandrite of Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery released him from his oath, making it possible for him to return to the throne. Later, Vasily II generously rewarded the monastery making it one of the most prosperous monasteries in Russia.

Another event, which was important for Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, took place in 1528. Having come there on pilgrimage the tsar Vasily II prayed for the heir, and after that the son was born to him who subsequently became the tsar Ivan IV the Terrible. After that Ivan the Terrible came there on pilgrimage four times and supported the monastery. And so the wealth of the monastery reached the unparalleled height, and by its scale the monastery was inferior only to the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra and Solovetsky Monastery.

Already in the time of Ivan the Terrible the monastery became one of the most important fortresses in Russia, and it had even been rumored that the State treasury was kept there. That’s why in the Time of Troubles at the beginning of the 17 century it was Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery that the Polish-Lithuanian armies attempted to thrice capture, but always unsuccessfully.

The strong walls, which made Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery one of the main fortresses in Russia, were erected in the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich during 1654-1680. It has been thought that after the Salt Riot the tsar decided to build an impregnable fortress where he could hide in case of popular unrest. And after that the monastery became the largest fortress in Russia.

Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery is divided into three parts: Old Town, New Town and Ostrog. The main attractions of Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery are at the Old Town – they are the Assumption cathedral (1497) and St. Cyril of Beloozero`s church where the relics of the monastery`s founder are kept. When visiting Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery you must have a boat ride on Lake Siverskoye to see the strong walls of the monastery.

Photo Gallery
View All (31)
Assumption Cathedral and a bell tower are the main buildings of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery as viewed from the Lake Siverskoye
Photo by Prokudin-Gorsky (1915): Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Shrine with the relics of St. Cyril of Beloozero at the St. Cyril Church is the main holy thing of the monastery
View on the dome of the Assumption Cathedral and the churches of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
In the course of some centuries several aisles were added to the main church of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, the Assumption Cathedral
The iconostasis and original frescoes of the 17th century in the Assumption Cathedral of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Original frescoes of the 17 century at the Assumption Cathedral of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
In the reign of the tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, between 1654 and 1680, the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was surrounded by strong walls, which made it the largest fortress of Russia
Merezhnaya Tower and Belozerskaya Tower of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Wall of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery as viewed from the Lake Siverskoye
Bolshaya Merezhennaya Tower and the strong walls of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery 
Ferapontova tower of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Courtyard between the old and new walls of the monastery near the Bolshaya Merezhennaya Tower
Gallery in the second tier of the wall from where the defenders could fire at the enemy
Cannons in the defensive gallery of the wall at the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Church of the Deposition of the Robe (1495) brought from the village Borodavy at the courtyard of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Shore of the Lake Siverskoye near the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery 
The Church of Sergius of Radonezh and the Blacksmith Tower in the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
St. Sergius of Radonezh Church and Boiler Tower in the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Personal belongings of St. Cyril of Belozersky in the museum of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Holy Gates (1523) with the Gate Church of St. John the Lestvechnik in the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
An oak tree more than 200 years old near the Big Merezhennaya Tower in the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Fortress wall and towers of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery from the side of Lake Siversky
Church of Kirill of Belozersky (1780) in the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Abbot`s cells of the 17th century in the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery
Icon of the Virgin Mary Odigitria (1397) in the iconostasis of the Assumption Cathedral of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Frescoes of the 17th century in the Assumption Cathedral of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Frescoes of the 17th century in the Assumption Cathedral of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Frescoes of the 17th century in the Assumption Cathedral of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery