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In the North-West of our country not far from Vologda

is situated a small ancient town Kirillov. There is one of

the most remarkable monuments of ancient Russian archi­

tecture there — the Kirillo-Belozerski monastery.

It was founded on the territory of the Belozerski princi­

pality in 1397 by Cyril, a monk of the Moscow Simonow

monastery. He arrived at these far off places not by chance.

He was charged with diplomatic mission by the Moscow

prince who strove for taking possession of important trade

routes and occupying a convenient position for the offen­

sives against Novgorod.

In the 17th century the Kirillo-Belozerski monastery

was turned to a fortress. It became an important outpost at

the northern boundaries of Russia. In 1612—1613 its walls

withstood a long siege of Lithuanian, Polish and Swedish

invaders. The monastery complex was forming and develop­

ing for centuries. And still, in spite of its being formed at

different periods of time it produces an impression of archi­

tectural unity.

The principal and the most ancient building of the mo­

nastery, the cathedral of the Assumption (the Uspenski cathe­

dral) was constructed in 1497 by Rostov architects. Notwith­

standing the later alterations the church didn’t loose its

majestic and solemn look. In 1554 the chapel of Saint-Vladimir


(the Vladimirski chapel) and in the second half of the 16th

century the chapel of Saint-Cyril (the K irilb v sk i chapel,

reconstructed afterwards) w ere added to the cathedral.

In 1645 the chapel of Saint-Epiphan was bu ilt.

In the beginning of the 16th century the Refectory w ith

the church of the Presentation to the temple (the Vvedenski

church) was erected on the te rrito ry o f the monastery.

Its architecture is distinguished by the austere sim plicity

and monumentality.

In 1531—1534 in honor o f the future tzar Ivan the Terrib le

birth tw o rich ly decorated churches — the church o f Archan­

gel G abriel and the church o f Saint-John the Baptist w ere bu ilt

on the order of the Moscow prince Vasily III. By the same time

the Saint gates, the church o f Saint-John Climaqus above it

and the Treasury were erected. O f great interest is the cellar­

e r’s (the manager of the monastery) house of the 17th century,

one of the smallest buildings of the monastery complex.

The existing stone walls and towers of the monastery

replaced the ancient wooden structures in the beginning

of the 16th century. In the 17th century because of the menace

of the offensive more powerful walls and towers of the so

called New town were erected.

The Kirillo-Belozerski monastery is a magnificent monu­

ment of ancient culture. Just as the Novgorod cathedral of

Saint-Sophia, the Izborskaya fortress or the Kremlin in

Rostov the Great it is our national pride.