Alexander Nevsky Lavra

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Alexander Nevsky Lavra, St. Petersburg, Russia - 1815 painting by Ivanov

Alexander Nevsky Lavra, located in St. Petersburg, Russia, is the principal monastery of the Church of Russia for men in the Eparchy of St. Petersburg. The monastery was founded by Tsar Peter I in 1710 as he began building his new capital on Neva River. The monastery is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and Saint Alexander Nevsky.


The monastery is located on the south bank of the Neva River at its confluence with the Chemaya, now Monastyrka, River. It was founded in the memory of Prince Alexander Nevsky’s victory over the Swedes in the battle on the Neva River in 1240. In 1712 - 13, the original buildings of the monastery were built of wood and included the Holy Annunciation Church and cells for the monks.

In 1715, the first building of brick and stone was begun under the supervision of Domenico Trezzini. Over the following years wings for a large building were added. The eastern (Dukhovskoy) wing was completed by 1725. Between 1725 and 1751 the north (Feodorovsky) wing was completed, followed by the west (Metropolitan) wing between 1756 and 1758. The south (Seminary) wing was built between 1756 to 1765. The host wing was built between 1760 and 1773, and Holy Trinity Cathedral[1], majestic neoclassical cathedral designed by Ivan Starov, was built between 1778 and 1790 to complete the ensemble. By the start of the twentieth century sixteen churches were built in the monastery complex.

In 1724, the holy relics of St. Alexander Nevsky were translated to the monastery on September 12, the day becoming a day of commemoration for the monastery.

In 1797, the monastery was designated a Lavra, indicating its high status among the monasteries in Russia, with the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev and the Trinity-Sergius Monastery near Moscow.

The Lavra developed into a center of theological education. A printing shop was opened in 1720, and in 1726 the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Seminary was founded on the grounds of the monastery which became the foundation of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. In addition to an archive and a large library, the Lavra supported the Alexander Nevsky Orphanage and the Isidorovskoe Eparchy School.

After the Bolshevik takeover of the government of Russia in 1917, the Lavra was closed. It’s facilities and assets, including the archives and library, were nationalized. In 1923, the monks were exiled. The buildings of the Lavra were turned into civil institutions, hostels, and industrial facilities. By 1936, all the churches of the Lavra were closed.

After World War II ended and the anti-religious fervor had cooling, religious services were allowed again in Holy Trinity Cathedral in 1957. With the fall of the Soviet Union, portions of the Lavra were returned to the Church of Russia in 1994 allowing revival of the monastery and its use as the residence of the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg. All the buildings of the Lavra were returned to the Church by the year 2000.


  1. The Holy Trinity Cathedral at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra should not be confused with another Holy Trinity Cathedral in St. Petersburg. This second cathedral was built between 1828 and 1835 as the regimental cathedral of the Izmailovsky Regiment of the Imperial Guard and was damaged by fire during restoration construction on August 25, 2006.