It is not known exactly when the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery was founded, but it is believed to date from the early 13th century, having been established by Prince Konstantin of Yaroslavl, shortly before construction work was started on the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral. It was built on the northern bank of the River Kotorosl and served a defensive function as well as a religious one. The princes of Yaroslavl also had a residence at the monastery and were buried in its grounds. After the Yaroslavl Principality's incorporation into the Moscow Principality, the monastery became a favourite place of worship of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, who presented the monastery with many precious gifts.
During the Time of Troubles the monastery endured a one-month siege by the Polish interventionists whilst the rest of the city was under occupation. Later the volunteer army of Pozharsky and Minin set up camp in the monastery and stayed there several months until they finally set off to liberate Moscow. Reconstruction work was carried out between 1621 and 1646 to repair the damage inflicted during the Time of Troubles. Much of the monastery's strong defensive walls date from this period. In 1787, upon the establishment of the Yaroslavl Governorate the monastery was used as the archbishop's residence. The monastery was closed in 1918 and was used for various non-religious uses, until it was reorganised as the basis of the Yaroslavl State Historical, Architectural and Artistic Museum-Reserve, usually known as just the Yaroslavl Museum-Reserve. Today the monastery remains a museum as has several permanent exhibitions; tickets for these exhibitions or just a ticket to walk around the monastery, can be purchased at the ticket booths located at the entrances to the monastery. A bear called Masha is also kept inside the museum-reserve. This monastery is occasionally mistakenly referred to as the Yaroslavl Kremlin, which no longer exists.
Presentation of Virgin Mary Church
The Presentation of Virgin Mary Church was built in 1621 onto the Holy Gates which served as a main entrance to the monastery. The Holy Gates themselves have been rebuilt several times and were restored in the 20th century. Although the interior of the church remains, the church no longer functions for its intended use and all exterior church features have been removed.
The monastery’s massive belfry stands at almost 32 metres tall. The lower part of the belfry dates from the mid-16th century. This was added to in the beginning of the 19th century when another tier was built on with a dome. The structure, especially its upper tiers, was heavily damaged during the 1918 Uprising and subsequently restored in the 1920s and 1950s. In addition to the 18 bells which are part of the belfry, the Our Lady of Pechersk Church is also located inside. Tickets can be brought to enjoy great views of the historical part of Yaroslavl from the very top, which can be reached via narrow and occasionally steep staircases inside.
Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral
The Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral was once the monastery's main cathedral. Construction of its original was started in 1216 by Prince Konstantin of Yaroslavl and completed in 1224 under the reign of Konstantin's son Prince Vsevolod. However this was destroyed by fire in the beginning of the 16th century and rebuilt between 1515 and 1516 by masters from Moscow, possibly the same responsible for building the cathedrals in the Moscow Kremlin. The current cathedral dates from this period making it the oldest surviving building in Yaroslavl.
The interior of the cathedral was decorated with frescos between 1563 and 1564 and even though these frescos have slightly faded they have lost none of their charm. The cathedral now exists as a museum and tickets must be bought to see the frescos. It is open from May to September from 10:00 - 17:00 but closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and on rainy days.
Yaroslavl Miracle-Workers Church
Built onto the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral is the Yaroslavl Miracle-Workers Church which is dedicated to Prince Fyodor of Yaroslavl and his sons David and Konstantin. All three have since been canonised and are considered local saints of Yaroslavl. The church was built between 1827 and 1831 in the classical style and its front is decorated with six columns.
The other buildings of the former monastery, including monks chambers, the refectory and the former Resurrection Church, have been converted into exhibition halls which now hold the various permanent and temporary exhibitions of the museum-reserve. The Treasures of Yaroslavl Exposition really is a treasure trove of priceless church artefacts dating back to the 12th century which, taking into account that this is a provincial city, can give even the Moscow Kremlin’s Armoury a run for its money. On display are ancient icons, golden and gem-studded icon cases, robes covered in pearls, jewellery, diamond encrusted crowns and other religious items. The exhibition represents a glittering showcase of Yaroslavl’s rich history. The exhibition is located in what were once monks' quarters.
The Tale of Igor’s Campaign Exposition is dedicated to the 15th century manuscript which was discovered in 1795 in the library of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery. the manuscript tells in prose the story of Prince Igor Svyatoslavich of Novgorod-Seversk’s failed campaign against the Polovtsy and is considered a mediaeval masterpiece. The exposition has an early copy of the first publication of the manuscript and military equipment from the time of Prince Igor.
Many of the beautiful icons now on display in the Yaroslavl 16th -18th Century Icons Exposition were originally held in the monastery's Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral and the destroyed version of the city's Dormition Cathedral. It contains icons by some of the most celebrated icon-painters who worked in Yaroslavl during its Golden Age. Also included are examples of barque-style icons from the 18th century. This exposition is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The History Department of the museum reserve has two exhibitions. The exhibition entitled 'Principality, District and Governorate' has three halls which trace the history and development of Yaroslavl. The first hall is dedicated to the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 16th century when the Yaroslavl Principality was incorporated into Muscovy and includes information on the Time of Troubles and the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral. The second hall concerns the so-called Golden Age of Yaroslavl, while the third room has displays on the Yaroslavl Governorate, including the new town plan and coat of arms. The second exhibition is entitled 'In the Times of Yaroslav' and has three rooms displaying finds for archaeological digs in the city.
Finally the Nature Department of the museum-reserve is dedicated to the flora and fauna of the Yaroslavl Region and was created by local biologist, historian and taxidermist Nikolai Kuznetsov. It has on display stuffed animals in recreations of their habitat as well as fossils. It also has information on the rivers, lakes and other water bodies located in the Yaroslavl Region. This department is closed on Mondays and Thursdays
|Location||25 Bogoyavlenskaya Ploschad|
|Clock||May-September: Territory - 08:00 - 20:00. Museums - 10:00 -18:00. October-April: Territory - 08:30 - 18:00. Museums: 10:00 - 17:30. Closed on the first Wednesday of each even month and museums closed on Mondays and other specific days.|