Zvenigorod is a small town not far from Moscow, of the same age. It appeared approximately in 11th century on the high bank of Moscow River. This moment was not fixed in chronicles, and Zvenigorod in mentioned in written sources already as a center of large domain within Moscow Princedom. It was in 14th century. The most outstanding sights of this picturesque town also refer to Middle Ages, namely to early 15th century. They are Uspensky church on Gorodok and Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral of Savvin Storozhevsky monastery, tied with name of Andrey Rublev, the great old-Russian painter.
Savvin Storozhevsky monastery
The monastery was founded in the late 14th century on Storozhevsky hill westwards from Gorodok. In 1405, the monastery has got a new cathedral. The building has the same type like In 1398, Prince Yury asked St. Savva, one of the first disciples of Sergius of Radonezh, to go to Zvenigorod and to establish a monastery on the Storozhi Holm (Watching Hill). St. Savva of Storozhi was interred in the white stone cathedral of the Virgin’s Nativity in 1407. This diminutive, roughly hewn church still stands, although its present-day exquisite look is the result of recent restoration. The frescoes in the altar date back to the 1420s, but the rest of interior was painted in 1656. A magnificent iconostasis in five tiers and the Stroganov-school heaven gates were installed in 1652.
In 1650, the monastery was chosen by Tsar Alexis as his suburban residence. In five years, they constructed a white-stone royal palace and a festive chamber for tsaritsa. The cloister was encircled with stone walls and towers, patterned after those of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. Particularly noteworthy is a large belfry, erected in four bays in 1650 and crowned with three tents and a clock tower. A church over the holy gates was consecrated to the Holy Trinity in 1652.
After the death of Feodor III, who spent most of his time there, the monastery declined. In May 1918, when the Bolsheviks tried to seize the relics of St. Savva, several persons were shot dead. In 1985, the cloister was assigned to the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. St. Savva’s relics were returned to the monastery in 1998.
Uspensky church on Gorodok
Gorodok is place of old Kremlin, nucleus of medieval town. It is a mount, surrounded with deep gullies from three sides and washed by waters of Moscow River from the fourth. Prince Yuri Dmitrievich, got Zvenigorod princedom in 1389, lived here till 1425 and it was flourishing time for this place. Gorodok was surrounded with earthworks, wooden fortress appeared on the top. Here white-stone Uspensky church was built in 1407. Ambitious prince has invited the best masters to paint it. The chronicles saved names of Andrey Rublev, autor of world-known Troitsa icon and hero of Andrey Tarkovsky’s film, and of monk Daniil Cherny. Unfortunately, the frescoes didn’t survive, and everything we can see now are shadows of figures. However, Tretiakov-gallery icons of so-called Zvenigorodsky Chin, painted by Andrey Rublev, originate from this church.
Savvinsky Skete is located on the very area where legend has it St Sabbas secluded himself from the outside world in a cave. The pretty and ornate St Sabbas of Storozhev’s Church at the Skete was built in 1862.
The modern-looking Ascension Cathedral was built between 2006 and 2007 to replace an earlier cathedral which stood here from 1792 until 1941 when it was destroyed. It is rather unusual in design for Russian churches. It has one slightly larger central dome surrounded by four domes which are slightly lower.