The Borisoglebsky Monastery was founded in 1363 by the monks Fyodor and Pavel upon the blessing of St Sergius of Radonezh. It was dedicated to Ss Boris and Gleb, Russia's first native saints. Over time the monastery grew very rich as gifts of lands and riches were lavished upon it by grand princes and tsars. During the building programme of Metropolitan Jonah (Iona) Sysoev of Rostov in the late 17th century the monastery's existing stone buildings were renovated and new churches were built. One of the most striking features of the monastery are the mighty walls which were also rebuilt during Metropolitan Jonah's building programme. In length they run for 1,040 metres at a height ranging from 10 to 12 metres and in places are 3 metres thick. There are also 14 towers built into the walls which range in height from 25 to 40 metres. The monastery was closed for worship from 1924 to 1995. Since 1995 the monastery has been used as both a working monastery and a museum run as a branch of the Rostov Kremlin State Museum-Reserve. On the territory of the monastery there are exhibitions in the Presentation of the Lord Gate-Church, the Belfry and the Archimandrite's Chambers. The North-Western Tower known as Maksimovka also has a viewing platform.
Presentation of the Lord Gate-Church
The northern entrance (and now the main entrance) to the monastery is through the Presentation of the Lord Gate-Church which dates from 1680 when it was built as part of Metropolitan Jonah's building programme. The yellow church is similar in form to the gate-churches of the Rostov Kremlin, with a tall cube-building topped with five green domes. From the outside of the monastery it has on each side a tall tower which flank the beautifully engraved Holy Gates. The gate-church now houses the monastery's ticket desk and an exhibition.
Ss Boris and Gleb’s Cathedral
The monastery’s main cathedral is the Ss Boris and Gleb’s Cathedral. It is also the first stone building to be built in the monastery. It was constructed between 1522 and 1524 most likely under the supervision of Grigori Borisov, a master architect from Rostov. It comprises a single-domed four-tier building with a side-alter attached to the front and is used as the monastery's summer church. Inside it is decorated with paintings of various saints, including Boris and Gleb and the monastery's founders Fyodor and Pavel, and holds the relics of St Irinarchus the Hermit.
The Annunciation Church was built between 1524 and 1526 next to the Ss Boris and Gleb's Cathedral to serve as the monastery's winter church, as it is heated. The architect of this church is documented to be Grigori Borisov. In form the church comprises a cube building with a single dome, a large refectory and then a small elaborately decorated entrance hall.
Belfry with St John the Baptist’s Church
The third church to be built in the monastery under Metropolitan Jonah's building programme is the St John the Baptist's Church which is housed in the monastery's impressive belfry. The three-bay belfry was built between 1620 and 1682 and is similar in design to the belfry in the Rostov Kremlin before the extra tower was added. It once held several bells included one donated by Tsar Ivan the Terrible and one weighing 600 poods (almost 10 tonnes). However these were all destroyed when they were thrown from the belfry after an anti-religious meeting in 1926. They have since been replaced with modern creations. The belfry now houses an exhibition.
St Irinarchus’ Monastic Cell
On the eastern side of the monastery standing against the monastery's walls is the tiny monastic cell where the hermit Irinarkh (later canonised as St Irinarchus the Hermit) spent around 38 years of his life practically in solitude, most of the time wearing metal crosses, chains and fetters. The alley running up to the monastic cell is lined with tall lime (linden) trees.
St Sergius’ Gate-Church
St Sergius' Gate-Church dates from the same period as the Presentation of the Lord Gate-Church and is similar in form as it serves as the southern entrance to the monastery. Whereas the Presentation of the Lord Gate-Church is more decorative, St Sergius' Gate-Church has a more sturdy and fortified look about it, especially the towers attached to it flanking the holy gates on the outside of the monastery.
|Location||10 Sovetskaya Ploschad|
|Open||10:00 - 17:00, daily except 1 January.|