The Iversky Svyatoozersky Orthodox Monastery on Valdai annually attracts a huge number of Orthodox pilgrims and tourists, connoisseurs of ancient architecture, magnificent northern nature and Russian history.
The history of the temple The Iversky Monastery on Valdai is the first monastery erected in Russia after the Great Time of Troubles, on the personal order of Patriarch Nikon. He had a wonderful vision of Saint Philip, who gave his blessing for the construction of a monastery in the middle of the lake, which enjoyed an unkind reputation among the population. Later, the patriarch personally consecrated its waters and renamed the lake to Holy. The monastery was conceived on the basis of the Athos architecture of the Greek Iversky monastery. In the middle of the 17th century, its construction began with the construction of the first 2 wooden churches. The construction was carried out with royal donations and state funds.
But after the overthrow of Patriarch Nikon, all privileges ceased, the monastery began to lose its significance, and because of the fire of the beginning of the 18th century, it lost most of its wealth. After that, the monastery was assigned to the new Alexander Nevsky Lavra under construction. But already in the second half of the same century, during the period of Catherine’s Reformation, the monastery was assigned to the 1st class. In the middle of the 19th century, an epidemic of cholera began in the lands of Valdai, which was stopped with the help of a procession with a miraculous icon around the city, which returned the monastery’s former popularity and led to its new prosperity.
But with the advent of Soviet power, requisition begins, a labor agricultural and logging artel is formed from the monastic fraternity, which after 8 years is removed from registration for religious propaganda and veneration of the miraculous image, and the community is completely liquidated. The image of the Theotokos was taken to an unknown destination, and on the territory of the monastery were successively formed: a historical and local history museum; labor workshops; a military hospital and a home for the disabled for accommodation of participants in the Second World War; educational boarding school for children with tuberculosis; recreation center Planet. In the 90s of the last century, dilapidated buildings were again transferred to the Orthodox Church, which began a comprehensive restoration and restoration of the monastery. Today, the monastery houses a small museum complex dedicated to the history of the monastery, as well as the life and patriarchal ministry of Nikon.
Architect and exterior decoration The main temple of the Iversky Monastery was built on the hill of the island and is clearly visible from all sides. It is distinguished by monumentality and grandeur. The construction of this huge temple was carried out under the personal supervision of the patriarch and bailiff boyar Artemy Tokmachev, under the guidance of the bricklayer Averky Mokeev, discharged from the Kalyazin monastery, and his assistant carpenter Ivan Belozerov. The cathedral has a huge size for its time 6.8 m by 21.7 m, raised above the basement, surrounded by a covered gallery on all sides, 3 apses also protrude from the east, 2 tents in 2 floors, made in the form of a chapel, protrude from the north and south with a small cross each. The building ends with 5 large gilded domes with crosses, which also rise above the porches.
Architect Athanasius Fomin erected three monastery buildings in the second half of the 17th century: the Holy Gates with the St. Michael’s Church; Treasury building; Nikonovskaya or typographic tower. In some places you can see the preserved ancient decorative tiles that decorate the window openings. The entrance Holy Gate with the Filippovskaya Church was designed and built by the architect and engineer Savelyev in the 19th century.
The door leaf is painted with paintings from the Lives of the Saints. The architectural ensemble The Abode is located on an area of 6 hectares, where there are 30 different buildings, most of which date back to the 17th-18th centuries. The first stone building in the monastery was the majestic Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God, which was considered the largest Orthodox object built in the 17th century. The simple, austere 3-nave cathedral is made of white stone, is square in plan, surrounded by a gallery with a porch above the entrances on 3 sides. The temple is crowned with 5 gilded heads with crosses. The powerful walls of the 5-main temple cut through wide windows, 3 on each side. From the ceiling, light pours from the windows of the domes.
The warm temple of the Epiphany with a spacious 2-storey refectory, a bakery and a brewery has a strict facade with thin columns, decorated with simple kokoshnik windows. The building has a cubic shape with a 2-tiered 6-sided apse, topped with 1 gilded head. The entrance to the refectory is decorated with arched vaults, next to it there is a kitchen, downstairs on the 1st floor there is a storage room. On the hipped belfry of the 17th century, located between the abbot and governor buildings, 13 bells were installed in the arched openings.
The Filippovskaya church was built in the 19th century in the eclectic style in the form of a four-sided building with 2 floors with beveled corners. The building is crowned with a dome, at the bottom there is a built-in passage arch. St. Michael’s Church adorns the main entrance to the monastery. The one-domed temple was built over a wide arched opening in the form of a high quadrangle with 1 apse, the sides are decorated with false arched niches that support the general architectural theme.
It is adjoined on both sides by the monastic building, the treasury building and the monastery fence with the Nikonovskaya or printing tower, which was one of the first structures. The tower is framed with a 6-sided tent, topped with a spire with a gilded 1-head eagle with an orb and a scepter. The interior decoration of the Vaults of the Assumption Cathedral is supported by 6 powerful pillars, the walls are decorated with paintings depicting scenes from the lives of the saints and the history of the Athonite monastery. Antique oak doors decorated with intricate patterned carvings, as well as forged lattices, have survived to this day in good condition. The carved 5-tier iconostasis was recreated according to documents and surviving descriptions, gilded with red gilding. The wooden altar choirs were replaced by stone ones above the central entrance.
The altar on 4 stone pillars is decorated with exquisite silver embossings, and above it there is a carved canopy with gilding. The high place under the canopy is marked with the image of the seated Savior surrounded by the forthcoming prophet Forerunner, the Mother of God and the faithful holy apostles. Shrines and relics One of the most important and most revered ancient shrines of the monastery is the Iberian Face of the Mother of God, a copy of the Nikon’s lost icon, made in the middle of the 19th century as a blessing for the militia soldiers before the Crimean War, and miraculously preserved during the Soviet hard times in the cemetery Peter and Paul Church of the city Valday.