day trip to Sergiev Posad

Written by Donovan June 5, 2015 Category: Europe, Russia Tags: , , , Comments
75km to the northeast of Moscow lies the town of Sergiev Posad (Zagorsk in the Soviet era). Although it is nowadays an industrial centre with a population of over 100,000, its fame rests on the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergii (a Lavra is the highest rank of Orthodox monastery, and there are only four in all Russia), the Russian Orthodox equivalent of the Vatican, which has a complex of medieval buildings to rival those of the Kremlin. It is a great day trip from Moscow as it is easily accessible by local commuter train.

The monastery is named after St. Sergii of Radonezh, a 14th century monk from Rostov whose pious, ascetic existence attracted numerous followers to the hermit’s retreat he had established in the forests around Moscow. The wooden monastery built by Sergii and his followers was razed by the Tartars shortly after his death, but his tomb survived and, in 1422, the year of his canonization, work began on the construction of the Trinity Cathedral.

This imposing, white-stone building, with unusual sloping walls and gold dome, became a blue-print for Russian church architecture and the inspiration for the Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Assumption. In 1458 a brick chapel was added to house the tomb of Sergii’s successor, Nikon of Radonezh. Inside the Cathedral there is a silver shrine containing the relics of St. Sergii, and an iconostasis with many works by Andrei Rublev.

Thanks to my friend Julia who helped me to arrange this day trip to Sergiev Posad, I managed to stay a night in this small town. We had a pelmeni and vodka party together to celebrate the end of the work week. At night, since all Public transport had ceased operating, we walked for about half an hour to the centre of town where we played Jenga at an “anti-cafe” which is like games cafe where you pay per minute for the amount of time you spend there. Snacks, drinks and games are provided for free. We were the only ones in the anti-cafe, so after a while it got boring, and we decided to go to an ice cream cafe for some desserts. The next day, we took a train back to Moscow in the morning. There was a traffic jam in town, so we alighted from the matshrutka and ran to the train station in order not to miss our train.

Getting there: take the suburban train from Yaroslavl Station (Metro Komsomolskaya). Trains go about every 20-30 minutes, and take an hour and a half. The first train leaves Moscow just after 05:00, and the last train back departs just before midnight.

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