Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad
Architectural Ensemble Of The Trinity Sergius Lavra In Sergiev Posad
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Cultural Russian Federation Europe And North America Moscow Region, Town Sergiev-posad (ex Zagorsk)

The ensemble of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad is an outstanding example of 14th- to 18th-century Russian architecture. Many of these buildings were models for later buildings in Russia.

The monastery, founded in the 1330s, is located on a strategically important road, and became part of the defensive system around Moscow with the construction of fortifications in 1540-60. After a fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched. During the later 18th century, the policy of secularization of church property led to the lands of the monastery being expropriated. The settlements around the monastery became the town of Sergiev Posad in 1782. The building of a highway from Moscow to Sergiev Posad in 1845 and a railway in 1868 increased the flow of visitors and pilgrims, and this in turn brought economic prosperity. The Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy and Seminary was transferred there in 1814;the ensemble are continuing their activities, but following the Revolution of 1917, it was closed and the artistic and historical treasures were nationalized.

The Trinity Cathedral is a four-pillar single-domed church with three apses. Its interior is decorated with frescoes by Chernyi and Rublev, including its masterpiece: the icon of The Trinity. It has a gilded dome, carried out on the orders of Ivan the Terrible in 1556 to celebrate the seizure of Kazan. The Nikon annex is a single-domed and single-apse church with a square plan, built from brick faced with white limestone. The Tent of Serapion is a rectangular building, which adjoins the south side of the Trinity Cathedral and is symmetrical with the Nikon Annex. It was built in 1559 and houses the burials of three church dignitaries.

The Palace of the Metropolitan, built against the southern wall of the monastery, has the appearance of a small Baroque palace, with its red-painted facade. There is a portico in the centre, supporting a wide balcony with an elegant wrought-iron balustrade. The interior apartments are luxuriously decorated. The Refectory with the Church of St Sergius is spanned by a single vault. The high, pillar-less church of St Sergius, richly decorated, has three apses and a single dome. The facades are painted in blue, red and green squares and embellished with embedded columns with ornate capitals and a cornice with medallions.

The Church of the Holy Spirit (Dukhovskaya), located in the centre of the monastery, is one of the oldest monuments in the complex. It is a four-pillared church with three apses and a single dome built from white limestone in conventional form. The interior walls have the earliest examples of glazed tiles for decoration. The Cathedral of the Assumption is a towering structure echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin. The walls of the six-pillar building are divided by prominent pilasters and the facade has a band of blind arcading. There are two tiers of narrow windows. The interior is light and spacious, the walls being decorated with frescoes and a masterpiece of Simon Ushakov. The Belfry is the highest building in the complex, situated on the northern side of the central square. It is a brick structure, clad in stucco, with decorative elements (columns, cartouches, etc.) in white limestone.

The Church of the Virgin of Smolensk has three limestone balustrades and two staircases on either side of the main door;decorative double pilasters support four curvilinear pediments. The interior is light and spacious, but the original wall decoration has not been preserved. The Palace of the Tsar (Chertogi) has the facades painted in a chequerboard design, similar to those of the refectory. The layout of the richly decorated interior conforms to the regularity demanded by mid-18th century architectural standards. The monks' cells, two-storey stone buildings, were built up against in the fortress walls in the 16th and 17th centuries. Several blocks of these have been preserved.

The fortress, stone walls and corner towers form an irregular rectangle with three levels of defences: the lowest being isolated casemates, a vaulted gallery, and an open machicolated gallery. The towers were originally floored internally with wood, but this has been replaced with stone vaulting. The religious buildings outside the walls are: the Piatnitskaya Church and the Vvedenskaya Church (1547), the Chapel over the Piatnitskii Well (late 17th century), and the Krasnogorskaya Chapel (1770).

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