Northern Fortress - Tikhvin


Tikhvin's Bogorodichno-Uspenskij Monastery was founded in 1560 on the place of miracle occurrence of Holy Icon of the Mother of God, which took place there in 1383. The wooden church erected there in 1383 was destroyed by fire in 1515. The stone Uspensky Cathedral was built instead of it by the order of tsar Vasilij III. It was built after the model of Uspenskij Cathedral in Moscow under the project and personal control of famous Italian architect Frjazin.

Tsar Ivan IV (Grozny) visited the monastery in 1547 just before the Kazan campaign. Mitropolit Makarij, one of the future founders of the monastery accompanied him. Ivan Grozny and his heirs were generous sponsors of the monastery. For example, son of Ivan Grozny Feodor Ioannovitch sponsored of manufacturing of 300 puds bell for the monastery belltower. Michail Feodorovitch, the first of Romanov's dynasty conferred as a gift 3000 copper sheets for the roof of the Cathedral.

In 1600 was erected stone belltower of Novgorod's style. There were 20 bells on the belltower and biggest of them has a weight of 650 puds.

In 1608 during the so called "Troubled Times" (civil war in Russia) the monastery was badly ruined by Poles and Lithuanians. In 1612 russian government under Vasilij Shuiskij engaged Sweden troops for the help against Poles. In 1613 Sweden detachment under Jacob Delagardi billeted small garrison in the monastery and marched to Moscow. But Tikhvin's inhabitants attacked Sweden garrison and pressed them out. Delagardi's detachment come back and besieged the monastery. Late summer of 1613 there were three fierce and unsuccessful storms of the wooden walls of the monastery and late September, 1613 Swedes retreated.

The monastery was badly damaged in consequence of war. The belltower was ruined because of explosion of powder cellar. Later it was restored on expense of hero of "Troubled Times" knight Dmitrij Podjarsky.

In 1669 the gatetower "Vvedenskie Vorota" was constructed. The under gate church in the name of miracle Icon of Mother of God was arranged on the top of it in 1779.

In 1810's new brickwork walls were built instead old wooden ones. This walls are remained till now days and has more decorative character than military.

In 1920's the monastery was closed by Soviet power, the monks were repressed and monastery's property was confiscated. The military unit camped in monastery buildings.

November 1941 there was the short time of German occupation. Germans stole all values while it's retreat. The Holy Icon of Tikhvun's Mother of God was in that's number. The icon was taken to Pskov at first, than to Riga. In the end of 1944 it was carried across all the Europe to Chicago by bishop of Riga Ioann.

The icon could be returned to Russia only under certain conditions, namely the abolition of Soviet regime and revival of Tikhvin's monastery. That has been done. The Holy icon of Tikhvin's Mother of God was returned to Tikhvin monastery this summer after 60 years of exile.


I have been in Tikhvin early 2004. This summer (2004) there was a big restoration's work in the monastery just before the returning of the icon. There are different looks of the monastery now, I believe. I hope, this photos of desolation and decline has only historic and achieve value.

A very good impression indeed in spite of bad weather, heavy and low clouds and thin snow-fall with rain. If you seek for the Russian exotic, history landmarks and out-of-the-way places, it would be right choice.

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