Andronikov Monastery - A Varied History

Built in 1360, the Andronikov Monastery was constructed in Taganka, on the Yauza River's eastern bank. It was to serve as a defensive fortress for Moscow, and was built by Metropolitan Alexei. The Andronikov Monastery was dedicated to the saint Our Savior, which in Russian is the Russian Spas. The monastery’s present day name is a combination of The Saviour and the first Abbot, Andronik, presenting the monastery with the name Spaso-Andronikov Monastyr. Andronik entrusted the running of the Andronikov Monastery to Alexei and as reward, Alexei was given land in the Kremlin that once belonged to the Khan of the Kypchak Horde. Andrei Rublev is the Andronikov Monastery’s most famous monk, who served in the 17th century and became an icon through his paintings.

It is believed that Rublev was born in 1360, but there is no record of this, and entered the Trinity Monastery of St Sergei as an apprentice. The Trinity Monastery is located outside of Moscow, and Rublev trained and learned from another iconic painter named Theophanes the Greek. Rublev took what he was taught, but added his own touch to his art, that made his work mythical with the deep rich colours and gentle lines. This gave the faces in his paintings a loving gaze and a dreamlike feel to them. Rublev went on the paint picture icons, which are displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery today, and was the artists who produced the Old Testament Trinity Icon that was painted between the years of 1411 and 1422. He died in 1430, after retiring from the Andronikov Monastery, and was buried in the monastery’s crypt. In his honour, the Russian Orthodox Church erected a statue of Rublev in 1989, in the park adjacent to the monastery. On the 17th of July each year, there is a celebration for Rublev.

The Andronikov Monastary served as a prison camp and hostel after the revolution, and was later going to be destroyed in 1960, but the demolition was stopped by the Orthodox faith and reopened as an early Russian art museum, namely the Andrei Rublev Museum of Early Russian Art. It was just in time for the 600th anniversary of his birth.

The monastery today, as it stands in Taganka, is surrounded by white stone ramparts, and the old wooded blockhouses were replaced by stout towers in the 17th century. The Cathedral of the Saviour that was built between 1425 and 1427, is in the centre on the compound and believed to be the oldest stone building in Moscow. Rublev decorated the frescoes himself which are currently under going restoration. Today there are many collections by the Rublev School from the 15th century, works from the 17th and 18th century. Although the Andrei Rublev Museum does not own any of the icons work, as they are on display in the gallery in Moscow, the vast extent of the collections including jewellery, vestments and coins are worth the visit, and the architecture and atmosphere experienced here, cannot be compared.


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