- Ferapontov Monastery
The Ferapontov convent ( _ru. Ферапонтов монастырь), in the Vologda region of
Russia, is considered one of the purest examples of Russian medieval art, a reason given by UNESCOfor its inscription on the World Heritage List.
The monastery was founded by Saint Ferapont in 1398 in the inhospitable Russian North, to the east from the
Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, named after his fellow monk, Saint Kirill of Beloozero. The fame of the monastery started to spread under Kirill's disciple, Saint Martinian, who was to become a father superior of the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavrain 1447.
Even after Martinian's death, his monastery was protected and favoured by members of
Ivan III's family. The most ancient structure, the Cathedral of Nativity of the Virgin (1490), was built in brick by the masters of Rostov. This edifice is the best preserved of three sister cathedrals erected in the 1490s in the Russian North. All the interior walls are covered with invaluable frescoes by the great medieval painter Dionisius.
During the 1530s, they added a treasury, a refectory, and the unique Annunciation church surmounted by a belfry. At that time the monastery enjoyed special privileges conferred upon it by
Ivan the Terrible, and possessed some 60 villages in the vicinity. The tsar himself frequently visited the monastery as a pilgrim.
Time of Troubles, the monastery was ravaged by the Poles. During its recovery the last buildings — the tent-like church of Saint Martinian (1641), a two-tented barbican church (1650), and a bell-tower (1680) — were added to the complex. The belfry clocks (1638) are said to be the oldest in Russia.
As the monastery gradually lost its religious importance, it was being turned into a place of exile for distinguished clerics, such as the
Patriarch Nikon. It was abolished by Emperor Paul in 1798, reinstituted as a convent in 1904, closed by the Bolsheviks twenty years later, and turned into a museum in 1975. The museum constitutes a part of the "Russian North" National Park since 1991.
* [http://www.dionisy.com/dionisy/38/ All the murals of the Ferapontov Monastery online]
* [http://www.dionisy.com/monastery/ Views of the monastery]
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