The city of Zvenigorod is 45 km of Moscow Ring Road on Novorizhskoye Highway. Near it, on the bank of the Moscow River, Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery is located, which is one of the most interesting places in Moscow Area. The monastery was founded in 1398 by the Reverend Savva, the disciple of Sergius of Radonezh. As the monastery was on the Storozhka River, it was called Savvino-Storozhevsky.
In XVI century, under the tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, the monastery, along with Kolomenskoye, became one of the most favorite places of the tsar in Moscow Area, where he often came. While Kolomenskoye Palace was his summer residence, to Savvino-Storozhevsky he went on pilgrimage.
According to historians, the tsar Alexey Mikhailovich even gave it the status of the «First Lavra», that is higher than that of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra in Kiev and Troitse-Sergiev Lavra in Sergiev Posad. It was just at that time the monastery was surrounded by strong stone walls and converted to a fortress defending Moscow from the west. Of course, later the monastery lost its high church status, and remained a powerful fortress with picturesque architecture.
For centuries the monastery was the favorite pilgrimage place of Russian tsars and emperors. It was connected with Moscow by Zvenigorod Road, which is now Rublevo-Uspenskoye Highway (this is the same Rublevka of Moscow Area – the living place of Moscow elite).
All guides tell the story about how during the war of 1812 the monastery was occupied by a corps of Napoleon army, which was headed by Eugène de Beauharnais. When the Katter slept at the monastery, the Reverend Sava appeared to him and asked not to destroy the monastery, saying that then he would return safe and sound to France. In the morning Eugène de Beauharnais applied his own seal to the monastery and ordered not to destroy it or take anything of its property. As is known, half a million army of Napoleon was nearly annihilated in Russia in 1812. To France only several thousand soldiers returned, including safe and sound Eugène de Beauharnais.
Regarding architecture, Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery is especially interesting for its refectory with belfry and Gateway Trinity Church. Nearby the Queen`s Chambers are located where one can visit the monastery museum. Also, it will be interesting to see the palace of Alexey Mikhailovich – a three-floor building of over a hundred meter long. It was just there that the royalties stayed when they came on pilgrimage.
In the center of the monastery the main temple is located – the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, where the relics St. Sava are kept. You should have a walk on the walls of the monastery. From there one can have very picturesque views of the monastery itself, as well as surrounding fields.