The city’s most famous sight was founded in 1439 by the monk Makary, who had previously founded other monasteries - the most famous being the Makariev Zheltovodsky Monastery on the Volga. This monastery was destroyed by the Tatars and Makary himself wias taken prsoner. Upon his release, when was forbidden to return to the site of his previous monastery and so he set off on pilgrimage to find a site for a new monastery. He chose this location on the River Unzha and founded his final monastery, dedicating it to the Holy Trinity. Makary died at the monastery in 1444 and was later canonised as St Macarius (Makary) of the Unzha and the Yellow Waters (Zheltovodsky), in recognition of his two famous monasteries.
The monastery’s first stone buildings date from the second half of the 17th century and a stone wall with four towers were added in the mid-18th century. In 1919, following the Revolution, the monastery was closed and by 1919 all its churches had also stopped functioning. The relics of St Macarius were transferred to a museum and the territory was used for a warehouse, although restoration did take place from 1970 onwards, replacing the wall which was destroyed when converting the monastery.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, in 1993 the monastery was reopened, but as a convent, and the relics of St Macarius were returned in 1995. In 2016 it once again became a monastery. As of 2017 not all the monastery’s buildings have been fully restored, although more work is need it to restore it to its former glory. However its current appearance means the whole complex still has an ancient feel about.
The monastery’s main cathedral is the Trinity Cathedral, which was built between 1664 and 1670. In style it is a monumental four-pillar, five-dome structure surrounded by a gallery. Although it underwent some restoration work in the 1970s, it remains in need of more work to be fully restored.
St Macarius of the Unzha and Yellow Waters’ Church
The main functioning church in the monastery at present is St Macarius of the Unzha and Yellow Waters’ Church in the southern corner of the monastery. Its five-dome structure was built between 1670 and 1674 and a refectory was added in 1824. The relics of St Macarius, the monastery’s founder, are held in the church.
This small church was built between 1677 and 1681 and consists of a single-domed, pillarless structure. Previously it had a bell tower attached to it, but this was destroyed in the Soviet years and is yet to be rebuilt.
The church in the north-west of the monastery is the Dormition Church which was built between 1732 and 1735. It has a standard ‘octagon-on-cube’ structure.
St Nicholas’ Gate-Church
This single-domed church was built between 1682 and 1685 into the wall of the monastery and stands next to the main entrance.