St. Nikita Monastery
Pereslavl region, Nikiskaya sloboda, 20, Zaprudnaya Street
Phone: (48535) 37165
St. Nikita Monastery, the most ancient in the Pereslavl territory, is in the northen part of Pereslavl not far from the Troytskaya Sloboda. Allegedly, it stands on the site of an ancient pagan place of worship. The Monastery is commonly believed to have been founded in the 11th century. None of the old wooden constructions survived.
In the 16th century Ivan the Terrible and his wife Anastasiya Romanovna funded the construction of the stone monastery. The royal couple frequently came there to pray, and it is said those prayers were answered when the tsarina conceived and, later on, when the heir to the throne made a complete recovery from a severe illness. Legend says Ivan the Terrible built the Monastery as a back-up refuge in case of treason at the Alexandrovskaya Sloboda. Of particular interest are the monastery’s 14th century walls and towers, and the five-domed St. Nikiita Cathedral with its pointed arches and vaulted ceilings. Built in 1564, it is being restored.
Alongside the cathedral is the Annunciation Church, its contemporary, with a belfry and a frater that were rebuilt in the second half of the 17th century. The Monastery is associated with the name of the first of the Seven Holies of Pereslavl, Nikita of the Pillar, who had been a tax collector for Pereslavl Princes in the 12th century. Numerous sins of this man brought him to the monastery where he shut himself up in an earthen cell. Nikita, who cured many people, dug a well beside the cloister, the water of which is believed to be holy even today. Nikita was killed because of his iron fetters, which his killers mistook for silver. He was buried in the monastery and in the 16th century was officially canonized. In the year 2000 his relics were unearthed and now rest in the Annunciation Church.
In the days of the Soviet Union, the monastery, like many other cloisters in Russia, was doomed to a sad fate. As a result of the campaign to expropriate church valuables for the benefit of starving people launched in 1922, the Pereslavl cloisters sent to Moscow “12 poods and 69 zolotniks (~31 stones) of [pure] silver and 11 zolotniks (~50 g) of 18K gold”. St. Nikita monastery made its own “contribution” to this initiative. For a long time, its premises were occupied by an agricultural station, a village school, craftsmen’s associations and workshops. Organizations changed without respecting the terms of lease contracts and frequently caused irreversible damage to the cloister.
With time the monastery lost two orchards: the small one behind the St. Nikita Cathedral, and the large one of 3887 sq. m. behind the Annunciation Church. The monastery’s old cemetery equally disappeared from the face of the earth and after its liquidation in 1929 several old headstones found their place in the Pereslavl Museum. Plasterwork on the walls and vaulted ceilings of the Prior’s chamber, where Peter the Great stayed at the end of the 17th century, was lost during the first decades of Soviet Power. In 1930 the bells from the bell tower and the gilded crosses from St. Nikita Cathedral were taken away and the 19th century altar screen was torn down and “utilized” as firewood.
Restoration work in the cloister began in the 1960s under the supervision of architect I.B.Purishev. In 1990 the monastery was given back to the Church and nowadays its buildings are gradually being restored. As before, the ancient shrine of Pereslavl sees pilgrims coming from all over Russia and from abroad.