Alexander and Necropolis
The Alexander Nevsky Monastery is the oldest
and most important in St Petersburg. Although quite young by Russian monastic measures, the monastery is one of only four in all of Russia designated as a “lavra” or exalted monastery. Peter the Great founded the religious refuge back in 1710, naming it after the holy hero of Ancient Rus. The lavra is supposedly situated on the spot where Nevsky decisively savaged the Swedes. The monastery’s original design was made by Domenico Trezzini, but later taken over by Leonard Schwertfeger and a host of others. Before the Soviet era there were sixteen churches in the complex. But after 70 years of theft and neglect less than one third of the churches remained and the monastery was left ravaged and decrepit. A major restoration project means the lavra is lovely once again. The grounds are well worth wandering and the German baroque Holy Trinity Cathedral is quite beautiful. Inside this centerpiece church many eminent icons and relics are displayed. A working monastery and cathedral, there is no admission fee. You might like to contribute to the upkeep by buying some of the blessed bread from the bakery.
Directions: Reki Monastyrki Naberezhnaya, #1, metro Ploshchad Aleksandra Nevskogo. Tel: 274-1612. Open 10:00-19:00.
In the greater grounds of the monastery lie several cemeteries that serve as the eternal resting places of many
eminent Petersburg figures. The Lazarus Cemetery, also known as the Necropolis of the 18th Century, holds the graves of many important statesmen from that era as well as three of the great St Petersburg architects: Carlo Rossi, Giacomo Quarenghi and Ivan Starov. But probably of much more interest to foreigners is the Tikhvin Cemetery, also known as the Necropolis of Artists. Here lie the graves of such luminaries as Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Modest Mussorgsky and Mikhail Glinka. The headstones of Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky are particularly prominent. There are maps outside the entrance to each cemetery showing the locations of all the famous graves, however these are only in Russian. But there are also small signs in both Russian and English marking graves of note. Entry to the cemeteries costs 120R ($4.50).
Directions: The necropolis is right in front of the monastery at Reki Monastyrki Naberezhnaya, #1, metro Ploshchad Aleksandra Nevskogo. Open 10:00-17:00.
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