The Svensky Monastery was founded in 1288 by Prince Roman Mikhailovich of Bryansk who dedicated it to the Dormition ('Uspenie' in Russian) of the Virgin Mary. According to the legend surrounding the establishment of the monastery, Prince Roman was losing his sight and so sent for a copy of the wonderworking Our Lady of Pechersk Icon from the Kievo-Percherskaya Lavra in Kiev so that he could pray to it. As the party was returning with the icon to Bryansk along the River Desna, the icon disappeared and later miraculously appeared in a tree on the bank of the River Sven. Prince Roman prayed to the icon and his sight was returned and so in gratitude he founded a monastery on the site where the icon appeared. Today the icon is also referred to as the Our Lady of Svensky and now housed in Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery.
Under Tsar Ivan the Terrible stone churches were built in the monastery. In the 16th century the monastery was repeatedly sacked by Crimean Tatars, but after Russia obtained left-bank Ukraine in the mid-17th century the monastery became more secure. It also gained greater ties with the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra in Kiev and was decorated in the Ukrainian baroque style. The Svenskaya Market started to be held outside the monastery's walls in the late 16th century which made the monastery rich and famous. More construction was completed in the mid-18th century when the monastery's Dormition Cathedral was rebuilt and strong fortified walls and towers were erected. However the monastery was to suffer a great deal during the 20th century as it was closed in 1926 by the Bolsheviks who also demolished many of its buildings and confiscated its relics. The monastery was only returned to the Church in 1992 after some reconstruction work was carried out.
Presentation of the Lord Church
The oldest surviving church in the monastery is the pretty Presentation of the Lord Church which is red in colour and decorated with white details. It is not exactly sure when the church was built as the monastery's records state that it was built in 1690 under Tsar Peter the Great, but the church is also mentioned in a document in 1678; however the church was substantially rebuilt after it was damaged in a fire in 1827. It stands over the main entrance into the monastery and consists of a main rectangular building topped with three towers in a row.
Ruins of the Dormition Cathedral
The very first stone building in the monastery was the Dormition Cathedral which was built around 1564 partially using the funds of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, who made many donations to the monastery. When Empress Elizabeth visited the monastery in 1744 she donated money to rebuild the now dilapidated cathedral and the new construction was completed in 1758. However now all that remains of this cathedral are its foundations as the cathedral was demolished in the 1920s by the Bolsheviks.
Holy Transfiguration Church
Built into the walls on top of the monastery's western gates is the Holy Transfiguration Church. It was constructed between 1749 and 1758 using the funds of merchants from Bryansk, most likely to replace an early version of the church which had fallen into disrepair. The white church takes the form of a tower, with the first tier being taken up by the gates then the main building in the octagon-on-cube form and finally a smaller cupola.
|Location||1 Ulitsa Frunze, Suponevo|