The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery and the ‘Russian North’ National Park



This stunning monastery is located on the banks of the Siverskoye Lake near the town of Kirillov, in Russia’s Vologodskaya region. Its history starts back in 1394 when the monk Kirill Belozersky created a cave on the bank of Siverskoje Lake. Up to the 18th century, the monastery served as a fortified outpost on the road from Moscow to Arkhangelsk in the North. It was also a famous pilgrimage centre, one of the largest religious and political centres in Russia, and a hideout for political opponents, as many monasteries were in Russia.

The centre includes: the ‘Big Uspensky Monastery’, ‘The Small Ivanovsky Monastery’ and the New Town. The most interesting building is the ‘Big Uspensky Cathedral’, built in 1497, with frescos dated 1641-1650. The cathedral was, astonishingly, erected within the five summer months of 1497. In the period of 1612-1617 the monastery withstood the attacks of Polish and Lithuanian invaders. Its current appearance is thanks to the commands of Russian Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich (1645-76), who ordered that a mighty fortress be built in the location. Construction of the fortress took 30 years, and it became the most powerful stronghold in Russia in terms of size and artillery firepower.

There is an ancient wooden church in the New Town, built in 1485 which you should also see. Thanks to its history and picturesque landscape, Kirillov and its vicinity have been declared a national park: ‘The Russian North’. There are a lot of Hotels and Guest Houses in the area, and rooms can be booked on the internet.

How to get there:
The best way is to go by train from Yaroslavsky Station to the town of Vologda, and then by buss (129 km). You may also go by car from Moscow (about 600 km). In summer you can cruise along the Volgo-Baltu Canal. But in this case you will have only a 3-4 hour stop for sightseeing, which is not enough. This is a long weekend trip.