Holy Trinity Lavra also known as Sergiev Posad

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Buying Matroyshkas - nested dolls

We had told Mubin we would like to buy some Matroyshkas to take back home for presents. They are little nesting dolls that sit one inside the other, each one getting smaller as you get further inside the doll. Mubin knew the cheapest place to buy them was at town north-east of Moscow so the next morning we set off there.


The Holy Trinity Lavra

The Holy Trinity Lavra is the most important monastery in Russia and the spiritual centre of Russian Orthodox Church. It was founded in 1345. The Holy Trinity is located in the city of Sergiev Posad which lies about 70 kilometres north-east of Moscow. This is where we are going to buy our Matroyshkas (and to see the Trinity Lavra of course).

Mubin found a car park at Sergiev Posad and we walked up the hill for a couple of hundred metres. Before going in to the Holy Trinity, Mubin wanted to show us where the Matroyshkas were. He had obviously taken other friends there before and knew exactly who sold them for the cheapest price. They come in a huge array of bright colours and sizes. We eyed off a few but decided to buy them on our way back to the car later on, rather than carry them with us for the next couple of hours.




The Trinity Lavra at Sergiev Posad The Trinity Lavra at Sergiev Posad
Cathedral of the Assumption Cathedral of the Assumption











The unholy gate keeper

So, off we went across the fore court to enter the Trinity Lavra. We could see we had to buy a camera permit. I put my camera away and we decided to buy one permit just for Ian's camera. The permit cost 100 roubles. Then we attempted to walk into the grounds. A big burly gate keeper told us we couldn't walk in without paying. Our friend asked why not. We had done the right thing and purchased our camera permit - what else was there to pay for. There weren't any signs telling us to pay. Whilst we were there trying to figure out why weren't allowed to walk in like anyone else was, we noticed some groups of Russians going in as parts of tour groups. The gate keeper then announced the only way we were getting in there was to pay 800 roubles each (about $30 AUD) and join one of the tours. Our Russian host said that was ridiculous! The tours going through at that time were all Russian speaking. Our host told the gate keeper that we didn't speak Russian and that it was crazy to make us pay 800 roubles to join a tour that we wouldn't understand but the guy wouldn't be moved. Mubin went back to the ticket window and asked for our 100 roubles to be given back which the lady gladly did.

Mubin finds a solution

Ian and I were prepared to walk away but Mubin would not be thwarted. He was going to find a way to show us this important religious and historical site. We soon realized he was quite a determined fellow. He was just as determined to get us in there as the gate keeper was determined to keep us out!

Mubin noticed a gateway where builders trucks were coming out. It seemed to have a remotely controlled gate. Mubin decided that the moment the truck was coming out we would then sneak in. Ian and I were most uncomfortable about doing this but Mubin was very relaxed about it. So that is how we got into the monastery compound......

Added later:

We have since discovered that many tourists are asked to pay extra to enter these FREE monastery grounds. The gate keepers seem to approach people on a random basis and the amount they charge seems random too. Hardly a fair way to treat tourists.


The Bell Tower The Bell Tower
Chapel over the well Chapel over the well

Trinity Lavra

The Trinity Lavra is most spectacular and everyone should see it but we have to admit that our energy was getting sapped.

At that stage we had travelled, and sight seen for four weeks continuously. We were getting quite weary. In truth I should say we were worn out.

We were interested in looking at the buildings but we were starting to get the attitude that it wasn't strictly necessary to go inside every one of them. At that stage of our travels we were happy to gloss over some churches. I think our lack of enthusiasm may have disappointed our friend Mubin somewhat.

Other buildings at Trinity Lavra Other buildings at Trinity Lavra
Walkway in the monastery Walkway in the monastery

Ian's cold was getting chesty and my feet were very sore with blisters on top of blisters.

We were a sad and sorry pair and Mubin was just the opposite. He is in his fifties but has the energy of a man half his age.

We were interested in seeing the museum but it was closed because it was a Monday which was a pity.

Mubin took us back to buy the Matroyshkas and then we found the monastery workman's canteen for our lunch. There we had quite a substantial meal for a very reasonable price.

It was time to head back down the hill towards the car park. We saw lots of very large tour buses trying to manoeuvre themselves around very tight corners. Being a bus driver himself, Ian could appreciate the difficult jobs they had.

The car won't start

We sank into the seats of Mubin's car and he turned the key of the ignition. Oh no, we had a flat battery! Mubin realized that he hadn't turned off his headlights when he parked the car several hours ago. He went to the boot of his car to retrieve his jumper leads and then realized he hadn't put them back into the car several days ago when he had emptied the boot before he came to collect us from the train. The poor soul had to walk to a nearby shop and buy a new set of jumper leads. He was quite hot and pooped by the time he got back to the car. He had to ask a car park attendant to help us by loaning us his car to start ours up. Was this bad luck happening to us because we sneaked into the monastery grounds???

Abramtsevo Estate

Mubin took us to a lovely retreat called Abramtsevo Estate which is fairly close to Trinity Lavra. The estate has been a retreat for writers and artists for many years. It was purchased in 1843 by Sergei Aksakov who was a famous Russian writer. In 1870 the property was bought by Savva Mamontov and he established an artists' settlement there. It is picturesque area with lawns, huge trees and a meandering river.

Banya Teremok Banya Teremok
Church of the Saviour Not Made By Human Hand Church Of The Saviour Not Made By Human Hand










I love the name of the little white church - Church Of The Saviour Not Made By Human Hand. That has to be the longest of all the church names we have seen in Russia.

We were there on a Monday when it is usually closed but Mubin mentioned that his guests were all the way from Australia and we were allowed to have a little look around. I honestly liked wandering amongst the trees, the river and the natural landscape more than inspecting the buildings themselves. It was all so picturesque. No wonder writers and artists were happy retreating there.

The place is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m.

Time to head home for the day ........


Next page - Leaving Moscow


Our trip in the order it happened:

Travel Planning Necessities
World time zones, world weather, currency converter, language translator services.

Search over 25,000 hostels.

Trip Advisor Forum - Russia
The place to find information about Russia when you can't find it elsewhere.

Way To Russia
Another very good forum

Getting A Russian Visa
The process is explained

Trains between Moscow & Saint Petersburg
Explanation of the types of trains on that route.

Firmenny Trains
An explanation of what they are.

Moscow's Railway Stations
A map of their locations and proximities.

Learn How To Speak Russian
Free lessons.

Map of St. Petersburg
Lonely Planet's map of the city.

Map of Moscow
Lonely Planet's map of the city.

Moscow Times Newspaper
English version.

The Russia Club
A forum for all those interested in anything "Russian".

Russian Rail Timetable
It takes a bit of mastering but Ian managed it (eventually).

The Art Of Travel
Very interesting travel information for all locations.

Smart Traveller
Australian Government's site dealing with current travel advice.

Travel Independent
A site written by travellers for travellers. Lots of information.

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