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Zvenigorod – Historic Suburb of Moscow

Located in the Moscow Oblast of Russia, and considered to be a suburb of the capital city, the town of Zvenigorod is believed to have been established in the 12th century. The first written record of the town is dated 1338 and in the latter part of the 14th century the town was given as a gift to Yury Dmitrievich by his father Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy, Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of Vladimir. Although being a younger male child who would not be ordinarily be entitled to inheritance under the customs of the time which declared the first born son to inherit the entire estate, Dmitry Donskoy bequeathed the towns of Ruza, Galich and Zvenigorod to his younger son. Yury Dmitrievich, who was also known as George II of Moscow and Yury of Zvenigorod, built his palatial residence overlooking the picturesque Moskva River.

The town of Zvenigorod was recorded in history as the base from which wars were fought for control of Moscow by Yury's sons at the time that their cousin, Vasily II, reigned in the mid-15th century. Vasily II eventually won, and the town became part of Muscovy. In 1784 Zvenigorod was granted municipal rights and toward the end of the 19th century it became a popular destination among the so-called 'intelligentsia' of Moscow. Lavish dachas were built in Zvenigorod, with a number of these historic buildings being turned into museums. Among these are the museums of Anton Chekhov, a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician; Sergei Taneyev, a Russian composer, pianist and author; and Isaac Ilyich Levitan, a classical Russian landscape painter noted for his work in the genre known as mood landscape.

Other local attractions include the Uspensky Cathedral built in 1399; the Muscovite architecture styled kremlin; and the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery built in 1398. The monastery was commissioned by Yury Dmitrievich and constructed under the supervision of St Sawa, an early disciple of Sergius of Radonezh of the Russian Orthodox Church. Visitors to the monastery will appreciate the skilled workmanship of the original artists and artisans, as well as the subsequent restoration work. The altar's frescoes were originally painted in the 1420s, with the balance of the interior artwork being completed in 1656. The five-tiered iconostasis of religious paintings was added in 1652.

Over a five-year period, starting in 1650, the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery underwent some changes at the instruction of Tsar Alexis. A royal palace was constructed and encircled with stone walls and towers, becoming the suburban residence of the Tsar and his wife. Later Feodor III of Russia resided in the monastery complex, and upon his death in May 1682, the monastery went into a decline. It was put into the care of the Danilov Monastery in Moscow in 1985, and today the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery is one of the treasured attractions of Zvenigorod.


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