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spireVysoko Petrovski Monastery

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All photos are copyright Wayne and Patricia Primeau. All Rights Reserved.

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map of monasteryThe Vysoko Petrovski Monastery is near metro station Chekhovskaya Pushkinskaya on Ulitsa Petrovka. The Monastery is easy to get to and offers tours to the general public. The buildings and grounds suffered damage during the Soviet era and proceeds from tours are being used to fund restoration work.

iconsThe Vysoko-Petrovski Monastery was founded in the 14th Century go Metropolitan Peter, Archibishop of Kiev and All Russia. The original monastery was dedicated to the Apostles Peter and Paul, but later, when Metropolitan Peter had been added to the company of the saints in 1327 (or 1329) its name was changed to the Petrovski Monastery.

icon Between 1505-1509 the name was again changed to Vysoko-Petrovski (High Peter). The addition of Vysosk is variously explained as referring to the monastery's elevation, the name of the hamlet which once stood on the site, or from the vision of a high mountain seen on this spot by Grand Duke Ivan Kalita.

towerThe monastery has been rebuilt many times since its inception. Until the beginning of the 16th Century all of the buildings were made of wood, including the church dedicated to Moscow's first saint, the miracle-worker Peter. After one of the many fires a column-shaped brick church was built in 1514-1517 by Italian architect Aloys Friasin. This is one of the earliest examples of a column-shaped church in Russian architecture. It still stands as the focal centre of the whole monastic complex in the great court. In the last quarter of the 16th century the monastery acquired the status of a "State Chapel".

iconsTo mark the birth of the Tsarevich Peter (25 May 1672 old calendar) his grandfather, K. P. Naryshkin, presemted Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich with an estate adjoining the couthern cloister. This property was added to the monastery with the result that its territory was almost doubled. In 1684 the Church of the Veil (wooden) and other wooden buildings at the northern side were demolished and in their place a church was erected dedicated to the Bogolubsky Icon of the Mother of God (first icon above right). In the following hundred years the funerals of 18 members of the Naryshkin family took place in this church, which became their family shrine.

domes In the 1690s, by order of Peter I (Peter the Great) the remaining wooden buildings were replaced with a church dedicated to St Sergei Radonezh. Also at this time the present building of the holy gates with the church above them dedicated to the Veil of the All-holy Mother of God, and the bell town above it, were built on the north side of the main courtyard.

icon of the Tolgsky Mother of GodAt the end of the 17th century and beginning of the 18th a brick wall was built around the site. It has blind arches on the courtward side which continue the arches of the cloister. In the first half of the 18th century the church dedicated to the Tolgsky Icon of the Mother of God (1747-53) (image above) and the church dedicated to St Pachomius the Great (1750-55) was here built. These were designed in the restained baroque style to harmonize with the Moscow-barocque style of the earlier buildings.

iconThe monastery suffered considerable damage in the Patriotic War of 1812 when its holy places were prophaned and looted by Napoleon's troops. After the occupying forces had been driven out, services were not resumed in the church of the Veil for 50 years and in the church of St Pachomius the Great for almost 100 years.

architectural featuresIn the late 19th and early 20th century another spate of building took place. In 1905 at the southern approach to the holy gates, a chapel was placed, dedicated to the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. After this no further additions were made. The monastery was closed immediately after the October revolution. The last church on the grounds, the chapel of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, was closed in 1928.

monasteryThe complex of the Vysoko-Petrovski Monastery as a whole is outstanding for its architectural excellence and is without doubt a jewel in the centre of historic Moscow.

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This page was updated on 26 November 2007.

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