Tourism in Russia
> Tatarstan > Sviyazhsk
The island city of Sviyazhsk is located at the picturesque confl uence
of the Sviyaga River with the Volga, on a high hill 30 km from Kazan.
The bounty of the nearby shallows, bays, and islands has long
attracted man. The latter-day fate of Sviyazhsk was such that some of
the most important moments in Russian history are bound up with
the small area of the island.
The history of Sviyazhsk starts in the thirteenth century, when it is
known to have been the site of pagan rituals. After the founding of
the city and monasteries in 1551, it was an Orthodox holy site for
pilgrims from all Russia for several centuries, attracting many people
from various ends of the country. Architectural and artistic masterpieces
were wrought here, in time becoming notable and often
unique monuments of history and culture.
The fortress of Ivan City (Novograd Sviyazhsky) was founded in 1551
by order of Ivan the Terrible, and in 1555 archbishop Gury founded
the Uspensky Bogoroditsky Monastery.
At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the city was besieged and the tsar's
troops routed the rebelling forces.
In 1708, Sviyazhsk and its environs became part of the Kazan Province. After
1917, the repressions started in Sviyazhsk. From the late 1920s, Sviyazhsk served
as a detention center for arrestees, a part of the GULAG. It was partially deserted,
destroyed, and its church holies, monuments of culture and history defiled.
A psychiatric ward was established in the monastery on the island. It was only
in 1960 that Sviyazhsk was proclaimed a monument of Russian history and culture,
and two decades later included in the list of such monuments
within the Soviet Union. Today, the island fortress of Sviyazhsk is
included in the preliminary list of objects of World Heritage administered
by UNESCO. In 1997, the Uspensky Bogoroditsky Monastery
was transferred to the administration of the Kazan Bishopric, in order
to reinvigorate the ancient town and encourage the restoration of
the historical and culture monuments, bringing the entire island and
reliquary back from its ruins.
The museum occupies the following buildings:
– Uspensky Cathedral (16th century);
– Church of Constantine and Helen (16th – 18th centuries);
– Trinity Church of the John the Baptist Monastery (16th century), a
wooden church and the first Orthodox church in the Kazan region,
built in one day and rebuilt in the 18th century, iconostasis dating to
the 16th – 18th centuries (paid entry);
– Sergius Church (1604), originally a refectory, rebuilt with bell tower
in the 18th century;
– Cathedral of the Mother of God of All-Sorrowing Joy (1906), architect
F. D. Malinovsky.
Net accessible floor space of the churches – 1285 sq. m.
Icons in the collection include ones painted in the traditions of the Western
Ukrainian (Catholic) school of icon painting, as well as sculpture and cultural
artifacts of the 16th – 20th centuries.