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Sergiyev Posad
Russian Travel Guide

Sergiyev Posad (Се́ргиев Поса́д)

Formally: Sergiyev (1919-1930), Zagorsk (1930-1991)
Region: Moscow Oblast

Sergiev Posad is a vibrant spiritual and craft center. Sergiev Posad is located just in 70 kilometers to the north of Moscow. The town is part of Russia's famous Golden Ring. Sergiev Posad's main attraction is the monastery called The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. It is a Unesco World Heritage site. It has been an important religious site throughout almost seven centuries.

The famous Russian nesting doll known as the Matryoshka Doll (or Babushka Doll) is considered to be born here. This toy is only a century old but has become popular world wide. The wooden Russian doll is famous for its bright traditional dress and endless pattern variations. An industrial scale production was set during soviet period; nowadays, most dolls are hand made.

Sergiev Posad is scattered over a territory of fifty square kilometers. Two narrow rivers, the Konchura and the Vonduga, flow through the center of Sergiev Posad. Several small dams on the Kochura form a succession of ponds, their banks reveal the town’s gentle provincial beauty.

A Little History of Sergiyev Posad

The history of Sergiev Posad is tightly bound with the history of the city's monastery, The Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. (A "Lavra" is a type of monastery.)

The most honored figure in the history of Sergiev Posad is Bartholomew Kirilovich (1314-1392), the founder of The Holy Trinity Lavra. He was canonized by church and revered as Saint Sergey Radonezhskiy. Named after the village his family moved then Bartholomew was about 14 years old. In 1335 he built a secluded cell and a small church in about 12 kilometers from Radonezh with his older brother support. For a time he was living alone in the forest in ascetic severity. In 1337 Bartholomew became a monk and took the name Sergius. An avid leader, St.Serigius inspired other monks to join him and build a monastery and afterward headed the monks’ community and the parish. The legend said that he was blessed with an incredible power. Lifelong and beyond death he has performed numerous miracles helping the suffering and protecting the faith and the country.

In period from 1608 to 1610 the Lavra and nearby residents became involved in an epic conflict. They were encircled by Polsh forces the false tsar Dmitriy II, a self named tsar. During the 16 month seige they successfully resisted the superior enemy forces. The attacking force of 15000 to 30000 men headed by polish hetman Yan Sapieha and russian colonel Aleksandr Lisovsky were unable to conquer the Lavra. The defenders had only 1000 volunteers, 110 cannons, and 2300 warriors sent by Vasiliy Shuyskiy, the acting tsar.

The regional villages had developed into a recognised settlement in 1782, which is four and a half centuries after Lavra's foundation. The main local trades were wooden crafts, commerce, and pilgrim support.

Sergiev Posad had enjoyed a long period of tranquil, patriarchal way of life before Bolshevist forces closed the Lavra in 1919. Utill 1946 were no church services or monks on its territory. However, their faith was not beaten by a communist ideology. The residents worshipped in multiple minor churches and in private.

From 1930 until 1991 the town was named Zagorsk. It was named after the revolutionary Vladimir Zagorsky, even though his birth name was Volf Lubotsky. Zagorsky's life included ongoing agitation, arrests and long term exile. He was a personal acquaintance of Lenin. Zagorsky was killed in a terrorist act when he was only 36 years old.

During World War II Sergiev Posad became a front-line area and actively supported the Red Army. 30,000 men were drafted into the army. The women were working in plants and six newly formed hospitals. The Lavra was camouflaged and served as a hospital, administrative centre, and headquarters for Town Defence Committee.

In spite of Russia's turbulent history nothing has really changed since the old times. Sergiev Posad has returned its historical name and faith. Ancient trades and crafts are thriving, and pilgrims still hurry to the Lavra for church services.

The Sights of Sergiyev Posad

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. (Тро́ице-Се́ргиева Ла́вра)

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is one of the main orthodox spiritual centres in Russia. Founded in 14th century, it has retained the charm of old times. Lavish Moscow baroque is neighbouring with ancient, pure white style buildings. The Lavra includes several churches, some of which are operational, a chapel, an elegant five floor belfry, and numerous household buildings enclosed into a white fortified wall with nine towers. The height of the belfry is 88 meters, of the wall - up to 15 meters. The weight of the biggest bell is 72 ton. It is said that its ring can be heard from as far as 50km.

Pilgrims from all over the world visit this holy place for spiritual enlightenment. Church services are conducted every day according to the orthodox calendar. During the service anyone is free to join the parish for prayer, to listen to the chorus, preaching. Or you could just to wonder about and study magnificent decoration and ancient icons on your own. Every church has a keeper who advises on conventional rules and helps guests not to get into awkward situations. However, the Orthodox Church is a religious institution, which preaches and keeps Christian conservative values and traditions. Please, avoid wearing shorts and miniskirts.

The Sergiev Posad State History and Art Museum-Preserve

Prospect Krasnoy Armii, 144.

This museum offers a stunning collection devoted to religious and regional history. The Exhibition complex is mostly located on Lavra territory. With a collection of 120,000 exhibits, it covers a large range of local history including: Church architecture, icons, and vestments of fine work which often decorated with or made of precious metals and stones; As well as regional history, Russian folk art, crafts, and paintings. Tours are available.

The Museum of National Crafts

Prospect Krasnoy Armii, 105.

An original museum organised by local enthusiasts is committed to Russian crafts and folk traditions. It exhibits a substantial collection of antique and contemporary hand made articles of local produce. Unique wooden, textile, and porcelain child amusement s will bewilder and provoke emotions.

Master classes in various crafts and painting, Russian Traditions theatre, tea parties are available on request. If you are lucky to visit the town during religious celebrations, be sure to attend the museum special events which can include folk performances and chanting.

The Craftsmanship & Souvenirs market

Krasnogorskaya ploschad/square and underground passage

The colourful craft market sits in front of the Lavra's main entrance. Various souvenirs such as matryoshka doll (babushka dolls), varnished painted boxes, russian style shawls, natural stone and amber beads, wooden and fur articles are bought and sold here. Usually prices are not firmly fixed, and it is possible get a discount.

The Lavra view point

The corner of Voznesenskaya and Sergievskaya streets

The view point offers a superb view on the historic site of The Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. This place reveals the Lavra's true scale and splendour to the visitor. Picturesque golden and blue domes are shining very vividly. The white walls and buildings appear bright against either blue skies or gloomy rain clouds.

On lawn the below the view point there is a pretty white chapel. It represents an architecture style popular in the times of Tsar Peter the Great. The chapel covers a natural spring supposedly used by St. Sergius. The view point and a nearby chapel are the best places for memorable photos.

Wooden chapel and baptistery

The corner of Parhomenko and Suvorova streets.

A small wooden chapel is concealed by the trees of the Konchura river bank below the road. Multiple springs are coming out form the adjoining hill. The water temperature is +4 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The town inhabitants and travellers can often be seeing collecting the drinkable spring water in bottles and cans.

One of the springs is converted into a baptistery. Religious people and pilgrims are queuing for a plunge. Everybody can join in. It would be wise to take a towel.

Popular Activities

Should you visit to Sergiev Posad in winter there is an amazing opportunity to join locals in open air skating ring. The music and bright lights attract many visitors. This amusement is popular within all age groups, regardless of ability. It is situated in Zeleniy pereulok, just in five minutes walk aside from the main street (Prospect Krasnoy Armii). Skate rental is available.

The vast majority of town residents have a summer house (dacha) with a fruit and vegetable garden. It keeps the owners busy from April to October. Yet dacha's are not just for agriculture only; it is a place for friends to gather and have Barbeques and evening parties on the weekends. Dachas are often located near rivers or forests and popular activities include fishing and wild mushroom gathering. Should you have a friend or business partner among local residents, just ask him if he has a Dacha and which plants he cultivates. It is a popular topic to discuss during a social event. It is certain that you will get an invitation in the end.

The town dwellers who are living around Kelarskiy ponds have built their own planked footways for fishing. Not long ago it was possible to catch crayfish. Unfortunately they have gone by now. However, small types of fish, such as crucian and roach, are still the desired catch of children and amateur fishermen.

Industry in Sergiyev Posad

The town's main industries include wood, wood pulp and paper, paint, varnish, and instrument engineering enterprises. The large industrial premises are mainly located on the outskirts of the town. As a result to the town continues to retain it's fresh air and relaxed feel.

Culture and Night Life in Sergiyev Posad

With population about about one hundred thousand residents, Sergiev Posad is will developed. A trade centre, several open air markets, numerous small shops, restaurants, cafés, fast food enterprises, hotels, and nightclubs keep tourists and residents busy.

Most of public catering places have a touch of provincial flair, slow in service and a touch shabby. However, there are a few deserve mentioning.

Bierhoff (Hotkovsky proezd, 13) is a brewery restaurant with German style tap beer, full menu and a summer terrace.

Russkiy Dvorik, (Prospect Krasnoy Armii, 134/2) represents the best Russian and European cuisine.

Dachnaya Zhizn, (Prospect Krasnoy Armii, 134) has international cuisine. You will find them across the main street in front of the Lavra's main entrance. Quality food, substantial size meals, Russian style interiors.

There is also an alternative option. The Lavra keeps a canteen Monastirskaya Trapeza for pilgrims and budget visitors. It is positioned inside od the Lavra, on the left side of the main entrance. Meals are traditional, simple, and served in accordance with the church calendar. Tasty pastry, tea, and coffee are always in the menu.

Hotels and Accommodation in Sergiyev Posad

The accommodation choice in Sergiev Posad is very narrow. The town has only two high quality hotels. It is necessary to book ahead in order to stay overnight or longer.

Hotel Posadskiy (Prospect Krasnoy Armii, 171) will provide you with all standard services. The hotel will please European taste with continental breakfast and modern interior design.

Russkiy Dvorik (Mitkin st. 14/2) is more expensive and based in the old city centre. Generously decorated in traditional style, the hotel allows visitors to try a Russian banya (sauna) and relax after a busy day in town.

Getting to Sergiyev Posad

There are three main ways to get to Sergiev Posad from Moscow:

Suburban electric trains: Sergiev Posad or Aleksandrov trains are suitable. They leave every 15-20 minutes from train station Yaroslavskiy vokzal (Komsomolskaya metro station). There is no need to buy tickets ahead. It is cheap, fast and reliable public transport. However, seats are not guaranteed. Depending on number of stops the trip will take 1 – 1.5 hours. Trains are safe in general. It is a good idea to consult the timetable for the return trip as there is are usually no trains between 9pm and 5 am. View Timetable.

Car: Yaroslavl highway, 54th kilometer from Moscow Ring Road. However, it’s not recommended on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays due to traffic jams when the Muscovites are leaving the city for pleasures of country life.

Bus N 338: It departs Moscow near VDNH metro station. The bus stops at Vtoroy Poperechniy proezd. It is slightly more expensive then suburban electric trains, but seats are guaranteed. It’s not recommended on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays due to traffic jams. Sergiev Posad Bus station is situated on Vokzalnaya ploschad. It’s also possible to reach Yaroslavl, Kalayasin, Dmitrov, Kostroma, Rostov, Taldom and many other towns and villages by regular coach. Upon arrival it is important to check the timetable and buy a return ticket ahead. The last bus to Moscow leaves between 9 and 11 pm depending on season and number of passengers.

The Last Word

Sergiev Posad is a small town on Moscow's Golden Ring. Most of visitors arrive here just for a day trip. However, the fact is, if they return to Russia they usually make a return visit. The town is a historical site of stunning magnificence, and though modern development is changing the urban scenery, and the town gradually loses its fragile provinciality, it is still possible to feel here a gentle breath of ancient Russia.

Moscow Oblast

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