Kirill-Belozersk Monastery

Kirill-Belozersk Monastery


a monastery in northern Russia. It was founded in 1397 by Kirill of Belozersk on the shore of Lake Siverskoe (on the site of the present-day city of Kirillov in Vologda Oblast). It became a large feudal landowner. In 1601 in Belozersk District alone, it owned 11 large villages, five small villages, 607 hamlets, and 320 empty plots of land. According to the census of 1744, Kirill-Belozersk and its associated monasteries owned a total of 21,590 male serfs. During the 15th to 17th centuries it was active in trade, especially in salt and fish.

In the late 15th to 16th century the monastery was one of the centers of the religious and political movement of the Non-possessors. It was besieged in 1612–13, and it beat off several attacks by the Polish and Lithuanian feudal nobility until 1616. From the 15th to the 17th century the Kirill-Belozersk Monastery was also important as a place of confinement for members of the secular and ecclesiastical feudal aristocracy, including Vassian Patrikeev Kosoi, the boyars M. I. Vorotynskii, I. Shuiskii, B. I. Morozov, and Simeon Bekbulatovich, and Patriarch Nikon.

The monastery complex today includes the ensembles of the former Uspenskii and Ivanovskii monasteries (in what is known as the Old City), the New City, and the grounds of what used to be the Ostrog Fortress between them. The monastery is surrounded by fortified walls (dating to the 16th century; the walls of the New City were built in 1653–82 by K. Serkov and S. Sham) with monument towers, decorated with brick designs. The chief building of the ensemble is Uspenskii (Dormition) Cathedral (built in 1497–98 by the architect Prokhor Rostovskii), which resembles the early Moscow churches. Also of interest are the Vvedenie Church (1519; with an attached refectory, supported by a single pillar), a church over the Holy Gates (1523), and the Church of the Archangel Gabriel (1531–34). There are also large infirmary chambers (from the late 16th to the early 17th century). Since 1924 the Kirill-Belozersk Monastery has been a historical, architectural, and art museum and preserve. Outstanding examples of wooden architecture from the surrounding region, such as the Rizopolozhenie Church from the village of Borodavy (1486) and a 19th-century mill from the village of Shchelkovo, are also on display there.


Kopanev, A. I. Istoriia zemlevladeniia Belozerskogo kraia XV-XVI vv., Moscow-Leningrad, 1951.
Pod”iapol’skii, S. S. Putevoditel’ po arkhitekturnym pamiatnikam Kirillo-Belozerskogo i Ferapontova monastyrei. [Vologda] 1966.
Kirillo-Belozerskii monastyr’. Leningrad, 1969.