The Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery (Саввино-Сторожевский монастырь, "the Storozhi monastery of St. Savva") is a Russian Orthodox monastery dedicated to the feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos. It is the preeminent landmark of Zvenigorod, a town located 48 km (30 mi) west of Moscow.
In 1398, Prince Yuri of Zvenigorod asked Savva, or Sabbas, one of the first disciples of Sergius of Radonezh, to come to his capital city and set up a monastic abode. At first, only one wooden church, dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was established on the high Storozhi hill above the Moskva River. Saint Sabbas sought solitude and prayed in a small cave, dug with his own hands. With time more and more monks settled in the new abode. In 1402 Yury Dmitrievich granted it several villages, vast land and forest tenures. St. Savva of Storozhi was interred in the white stone cathedral of the Virgin's Nativity in 1407. This diminutive, roughly hewn church still stands, although its present-day exquisite look is the result of a 1970s restoration campaign. The frescoes in the altar date back to the 1420s, but the rest of the interior was painted in 1656. A magnificent iconostasis in five tiers and the Stroganov School royal doors were installed in 1652.
In 15-17th centuries the monastery served as a military picket, defending the Grand Duchy of Moscow on the West. In 1650, the pious Tsar Alexis selected the Zvenigorod monastery as his suburban residence. An ashlar residence for the tsar and a smaller palace for his wife date from the early 1650s. Alexis had the churches encircled with stone walls and towers, patterned after those of the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra. Particularly noteworthy is a large belfry, erected in four bays in 1650 and crowned with three tents and a clocktower. A new 'gate church' was built by Ivan Sharutin in 1650 and consecrated to the feast of the Holy Trinity in 1652. In 1650 the Church of the Transfiguration was built by Princess Sophia. She also ordered to establish the refectory and in 1686-1687 rebuilt the Tzar Alexis' palace.
Since the times of Tsar Alexis the monastery was one of the most important religious places in Russia. All the following tzars and tzarines, and later — emperors and empresses, came here to pray and receive a blessing before the ceremony of crowning. The road from the Moscow Kremlin to Zvenigorod and the Savvino-Storozhevsky monastery was called the Tzar Road or The Road Of God Blessed Tzars, nowadays it is known as Rublevskoe shosse.
During the Napoleonic Wars, on September 12, 1812, the Italian corps of viceroy Eugene Bograne defeated Wintzingerode's squadron of light cavalry under the monastery walls. The skirmish is described in the memoirs of Prince Sergey Volkonsky and Count Alexander von Benckendorff. According to the local legend, Eugene Bograne stayed at the Sentry Tabernacle of the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery. St. Sabba visited Prince Eugene in a dream, promising him a safe return home if his soldiers would not plunder the monastery. Eugene Bograne spared the monastery and indeed returned home safely.
In May 1918, when the Bolsheviks tried to seize the relics of St. Savva, several persons were shot dead. The monastery was ransacked and pillaged, including the tomb of Saint Savva, made of gold plated silver, then the monks were chased out and finally the cathedral was left to ruin. In 1941 the 35-ton main bell was destroyed.
In 1985, the compound was assigned to the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. St. Savva's relics were returned to the monastery in 1998.
Both major churches used to be entirely covered with frescoes and until the revolution had the old icon screens of five levels. Only a few fragments of the original frescoes have survived the Soviet period.
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- Сингаевский, Вадим; Лазуткина, О.; Карева, В. (2018-12-20). Прогулки по Подмосковью. ISBN 9785040093472.
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