Alexander Nevsky Monastery

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Alexander Nevsky Monastery with the Trinity Cathedral (aerial view)
Church of the Annunciation
View of the monastery from the Monastyrka river

The Alexander Nevsky Monastery ( Russian Александро-Невская лавра ) is a Russian Orthodox monastery in Saint Petersburg . It is located at the end of Nevsky Prospect on the banks of the Neva . The monastery is the seat of the Metropolitan . The grave of Alexander Yaroslav Newski is guarded here and several cemeteries with numerous prominent graves are maintained. The monastery received the rank of Lavra , the highest that such an institution can have in the Russian Orthodox Church and which was only awarded to four monasteries (as of the end of 2016).

History of the monastery

After his important victory over the Swedes near Poltava (1709), Tsar Peter the Great placed the Swedes in order in the place he believed to be the place where, in 1240, the Russian national hero and saint of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexander Newski had defeated, on February 20, 1712 to build a monastery. The first wooden church was consecrated on March 25, 1713. The complex was planned and expanded between 1715 and 1722 under Domenico Trezzini . In a ukase on May 29, 1723, Peter the Great ordered the transfer of Alexander Newski's bones here. On August 30, 1724, exactly three years after the Peace of Nystad , she was buried in the monastery in the presence of Peter. The national saint's holiday, originally celebrated on November 23, has also been moved to this day. From then on, the memory of the medieval hero was linked with that of the tsar, a foundation of meaning that can be applied to the entire founding of the monastery. The same goal had an order of Peter, no longer portray the saint as a monk, but only in rulership.

The expansion of the complex took place between 1742 and 1750 under Trezzini's son. In 1721, under Peter, a Slavic school was founded at the monastery, which was expanded into a Slavic-Greek-Latin seminary in 1726. Under Catherine II , this was raised to the status of a main seminar and under Paul I finally to a theological college. The elevation to Lawra took place in 1797 and from then on the monastery served as the residence of the capital's church administration. It also served as a place of pilgrimage for the tsarist family, as important members of the Petrine tsarist family (Peter's sister Natalia Alexejewna and his son Peter Petrovich ) and the famous general Alexander Suvorov were buried in the crypt of the Church of the Annunciation, built in 1715 .

In the era of the Soviet Union , the rooms were made available to workers 'and soldiers' councils. Alexander Newski's bones were confiscated in 1922 and only returned to the public in 1989. The Church of the Annunciation on the site housed the municipal sculpture museum during the Soviet era. In 1935, Stalin had the monastery closed, which only returned to church ownership in 1946. In 1957 the monastery was consecrated again and has been used by the church since then, but is still open to the public.

Church of the Annunciation

As the first major building of the monastery complex, Domenico Trezzini and his son Pietro built the Church of the Annunciation on the north corner of the four-winged monastery courtyard in 1717–1722. At first glance, the two-storey rectangle with its large lattice windows, the terrace roof and its white and red colors look like a secular building. The ground floor houses various simple tombs of members of the royal family.

Trinity Cathedral

The builder Ivan Yegorowitsch Starow built the Trinity Cathedral of the monastery from 1776 to 1790. The high-classical building has the floor plan of a Latin cross with a three-aisled nave. In front of the cathedral is a main portico with six columns. The two bell towers are unusual for Orthodox churches . The interior is structured by mighty columns with Corinthian capitals . The church has a rich interior: the paintings on the vaults and in the dome were made to designs by Giacomo Quarenghi . Instead of the traditional jewelry made of icons, the iconostasis made of white marble and red agate is provided with copies of paintings by Anthonis van Dyck , Peter Paul Rubens , Bassano and Guido Reni and many well-known Russian painters. An Annunciation of Mary behind the iconostasis is probably an original by Anton Raphael Mengs . So the cathedral and the monastery do not conform to the Orthodox canon in many ways. In addition, instead of the usual iconostasis, a portico with a large tsar's gate was installed inside . The bones of Alexander Nevsky , the revered national hero of the 13th century, are presented in a reliquary .


The Alexander Nevsky Monastery was particularly famous for its cemeteries. The Lazarus Cemetery, inaugurated in 1716 (since 1932: necropolis of the 18th century ) houses the graves of numerous nobles and builders of the Russian Empire, the Tikhvin Cemetery, inaugurated in 1823 (since 1935: necropolis of the artists ) houses the graves of numerous artists. In 1868 the Nikolaus cemetery was laid out behind the east choir of the cathedral.


The Alexander Nevsky Square, located immediately north of the monastery, under which the two metro stations Ploshchad Alexandra Newskovo-1 and Ploshchad Alexandra Newskovo-2 are located, forms the eastern end of Nevsky Prospect .

Web links

Commons : Alexander Nevsky Monastery  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Frithjof Benjamin Schenk: The city as a monument to its builder. In: Karl Schlögel et al. (Ed.): Saint Petersburg. Location of a city's history. Frankfurt / New York 2007, pp. 51–52.

Coordinates: 59 ° 55 ′ 10 ″  N , 30 ° 23 ′ 18 ″  E