The Snetogorsky Monastery of the Nativity of Our Lady is located on the rocky right bank of the Velikaya river at one of its bends in the northern part of Pskov. As the Mirozhsky monastery, it may be considered the oldest monastery in Russia.
The monastery is on the Snetnaya mountain (snetok (whitebait) was a small food fish). Its advantageous location up the Pskova river near the Lake Peipus (Pskovsko-Chudskoe ozero) contributed to the development of the trading relations of the monastery. However, this also might be dangerous during the wars, which ravaged the monastery.
The Snetogorsky monastery was founded by the hegumen Ioasaph in the 13 century. He and the other monks were killed during the storm of the monastery by the Livonian Knights on March 4, 1299. A little later on they were defeated by the Pskov prince Dovmont. After that the prince told to build a new stone Church of the Nativity of Our Lady at the monastery, on the place of the burnt wooden church.
The new church was finished under the hegumen Job in 1311. By 1313 the paintings of the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady was completed and it became the main sacred place of the monastery. For centuries it remained one of the wealthiest and most influential monasteries in the Pskov lands.
At the beginning of the 16 century the stone refectory was built at the monastery, and in 1519 the huge octagonal Ascension church and a bell tower, the main decoration of the monastery, were built. The bell tower was similar to those that you can see in the Baltic cities – Tallinn or Riga. Its height was 86 meters, so it could be seen from all places of the ancient Pskov.
A sudden decay of the monastery began in the 18 century. At first it much suffered from the Great Northern War, and then an extensive fire seriously damaged most of its buildings. After the secularization of church lands under Catherine II, it was already impossible to restore the monastery, so it was decided to abolish it in 1804. It became a summer house of the bishop.
The destruction of the monastery began after its closing in 1920. The famous bell tower was blown up in 1934. In 1993 the monastery was returned to the Church and it was decided to establish a convent there. So, its revival began.