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Trinity Cathedral

Trinity Cathedral

The first wooden buildings of Alexander Nevsky Lavra were erected according to Peter the Greatís decree in 1710 in honor of the victory over Sweden on the left bank of the Black (Chornaya) River (now the Monastyrka river). It was Domenico Trezzini, who made the design of a monastery town that was taken as a basic one, and who built in 1724 the first stone church in Lavra, the Annunciation Cathedral accomplished in the style of early Russian Baroque. Trezzini also made a grandiose sketch for the monasteryís Trinity Cathedral, but failed to orient it towards the east, as it was required by the Orthodox tradition, so the project was not fulfilled. Ivan Starov was to face this challenge and finally managed to complete a rather more modest building in a Neoclassical style, referred to as majestic, austere, expressive and, at the same time, simple and harmonious in style. The cathedral was consecrated in the name of St. Trinity in 1790 in the presence of Empress Catherine II. Alongside with consecration the silver shrine with the holy remains of St. Alexander Nevsky were brought here from the Annunciation Church, where they were kept since 1724. It took several months to bring the shrine, decorated with symbols of the famous victories of Alexander Nevsky, from the ancient Russian city of Vladimir. To move the remains a special ark coated in raspberry velvet was built. The holy remains were met and escorted in all the villages and cities on the way with crosses and icons and with short church services and chiming church bells.

The beginning of the 20th century turned out to be a calamity in the existence of Alexander Nevsky Lavra: it suffered the tragic destruction, being robbed and looted of the church valuables, besides during the 40es all churches and cathedrals within the monastery were closed including the Trinity Cathedral. Moreover, after the end of the Civil War, the looting of churches was ostensibly legalized. According to a Soviet directive of February 23, 1922 all church valuables including gold, silver and valuable stones were to be confiscated. The valuables were then to be handed over to the commission for prevention of starvation. In 1932 a city museum was organized on the territory of the monastery, and the remaining lands were given under the direction of the city government, which distributed this territory between diverse institutes, offices and warehouses. In 1955 after a number of petitions, the Trinity Cathedral was finally returned to the Orthodox Church. In June 1990 Trinity Cathedral became the center of the celebration of the 750 year anniversary of the Nevsky Battle, and in April 1992 it was the center of the 750 year anniversary of the famous Glacial Battle. Moreover, on June 3, 1989 the holy remains of St. Alexander Nevsky were returned to the cathedral. Till that time they used to be sheltered in the Cathedral of our Lady of Kazan. At present the Trinity Cathedral is a functioning cathedral thus it attracts a great number of believers who come here to attend services. Every year on the 12th of September people come to celebrate the feast day of Alexander Nevsky.

The architectural excellence of the ensemble and especially of the Trinity Cathedral has always been a magnet for tourists. Stasov achieved structural harmony only by means of congruity of the dome and belfries with the building itself. The main emphasis was made on the massive six-column porch flanked with two high bell-towers. The bas-reliefs on the facade were created by a famous Russian sculptor Shubin. The interior of the Trinity Cathedral can be treated as a brilliant sample of Russian applied art of the eighteenth century. Divided into three naves, the interior is lavishly decorated with statues executed by Shubin, paintings created by Quarenghi, columns with gilt capitals and the fine gilt bronze holy gates. The iconostasis made of Carrara marble and red agate contains copies of canvases by Van Dyck and Rubens.

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