Monastery of St. Alexander

Suzdal, Gasteva st., 3
56.42753498, 40.44073428
+7 (49231) 2 35-71

The ancient Monastery of St. Alexander (originally – female) is located north of the Deposition of the Robe monastery, above Kamenka. According to some information, the monastery was founded by Alexander Nevsky in 1240, which explains its name. The first Moscow princes – Ivan Kalita and his son Ivan II the Red – patronized the monastery and endowed it with lands. Apparently, at this time the monastery began to be called "The Great Lavra".

The ancient monuments of the monastery are not preserved. Some buildings of 1650 died in a fire. In their place in 1695, at the expense of the tsarina Natalia Kirillovna, mother of Peter I, a stone five-domed Ascension church was erected. The upper part of each wall of the main volume of the temple, cubic in shape, is adorned with a patterned cornice and six decorative arches instead of zakomars. The main southern facade and apse are decorated with windows in carved platbands with keel-like crowns. The corners of the building are formed with narrow pilaster-strips that echo with the paired semi-columns with which the apse is adorned. The decor of the heads' drums repeats the pattern of window platbands in the form of semi-columns and archs-kokoshniks of facades. All this gives the temple an amazingly harmonious appearance.

The belfry, which is separated from the church, in comparison with it, is decorated easier. On a low basement quadrilateral, a slender octahedron of the pillar rises, which height is visually enlarged by narrow pilaster-strips that emphasize strict facets, almost without decoration. Only a row of small widths encircles the octahedron under the tier of tinkling, which is represented by the patterned semicircles of large windows and ends with a tent with tall rumor windows. The belfry of the Big Lavra a bit resembles the bell-tower of the Intercession Monastery, located almost opposite the Monastery of St. Alexander, on the right bank of the Kamenka river, emphasizing the unity of the unique architectural ensemble of Suzdal monasteries.

In the first half of the 18th century, around the Monastery of St. Alexander a low fence was built, adorned with decorative turrets with stylization under defensive towers. In the southern line of the fence there are the Holy Gates (restored in 1947) with a faceted tiered drum, reminiscent of the figurative top of the Trinity Church of the Deposition of the Robe  Monastery (not preserved). Coincidence is not accidental: all these buildings were erected by one architect – Ivan Gryaznov, and his handwriting united monuments scattered throughout the city.

In 1764, during the secularization reform of Catherine II, the Monastery of St. Alexander was abolished, and the Ascension Church became the parish temple of the city.

Only in 2006 the life of the Monastery of St. Alexander resumed, but already as a man's cloister of the Vladimir-Suzdal diocese. 

Author: V. Korolkova