About Alexander Nevsky Lavra
Alexander Nevsky Lavra, translated as the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, is St. Petersburg’s oldest monastery, built under the orders of Peter the Great in 1710.
History of Alexander Nevsky Lavra
The monument’s namesake, Alexander Nevsky, was a military commander also known as Alexander of Novgorod. A brilliant leader, Nevsky’s successes on the battlefield against Germany and Sweden in the 13th century. Peter the Great had the monastery built on the spot which he thought was the site of the famous Neva Battle (1240): the eastern end of St Petersburg’s most famous street, Nevsky Prospekt. However, it turned out this site was actually about 12 miles away.
An important and vibrant holy site for Russia’s Orthodox community, Alexander Nevsky’s status as a lavra, a high accolade for a religious institution in Russia and one which it achieved in 1797, makes the monastery a popular place of worship.
The Alexander Nevsky Lavra complex includes two churches, the first built in 1712 and the second in 1724, both in a baroque style. The complex also includes the famous Tikhvin Cemetery, where many of Russia’s famous artists are buried.The Alexander Nevsky Lavra graveyard is burial site of writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, composer Peter Tchaikovsky, Prince Alexander Suvorov, linguist and scientist Mikhail Lomonosov and all the members of the musical ensemble, Group of Five. Alexander Nevsky’s remains are also found here.
Whilst much of Alexander Nevsky Lavra’s riches and original pieces have been looted and destroyed over the years, this remains a beautiful and holy site as well as one imbued with history.
Alexander Nevsky Lavra today
Alexander Nevsky Lavra is still very much a working monastery – it’s open year round with seasonal hours, and visitors are free to stroll around most of the grounds free of charge. To visit the most important graveyards (and to see the graves of Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky), you’ll need to purchase a ticket from the kiosk to the right of the main entrance.
Visitors to Alexander Nevsky Lavra can also see the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Look out for the bread sold in Alexander Nevsky Square which is baked daily by the monks.
Getting to Alexander Nevsky Lavra
The monastery is at the far eastern end of Nevsky Prospekt. The nearest metro station is Ploschad’ Aleksandra Nevskogo 1/2, which is the intersection of Green Line 3 and Orange Line 4. Realistically it’s 3-4km from most of St Petersburg’s other major tourist sites, so if you don’t feel comfortable navigating the metro (the Cyrillic can be a challenge), you’ll need to hop in a taxi.
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