Visiting the 12th Century St George Monastery in Veliky Novgorod Russia

An Ancient Monastery Reborn

August 9, 2011 - Veliky Novgorod, Russia

This beautiful little city in northern Russia is famous for its ancient churches and monasteries. The Russian Orthodox Church has played a major role in Russian history for over one thousand years.

Despite attempts by the former Communist regime to eradicate religion during its 70 odd years of existence during the twentieth century, religion is once again flourishing in Russia.

During the former Soviet regime churches and monasteries throughout Russia were closed and the practice of religion was banned. Churches and monasteries were either destroyed, converted to other uses or simply left to crumble in ruin.


Layout of the Yuryev (St George) Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia
Layout of the Yuryev (St George) Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia | Source
Bell tower over entrance to St. George Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia
Bell tower over entrance to St. George Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia | Source

One of the oldest and most famous monasteries in Novgorod is the St. George Monastery (known as the Yuryev Monastery in Russian) which is located at the headwaters of the Volhof River on Lake Ilmen.

Like other churches and monasteries in Russia, the St. George monastery was closed by the communist government in the 1920s and left to sit abandoned and in ruin.

During World War II, which is known as the Great Patriotic War in Russia, the monastery was occupied by the Spanish Blue Division which was fighting with the German Nazi Army that occupied this region.

Following the Great Patriotic War the monastery buildings were used to house a school, a technical college, a post office, a hostel and a museum at various times.

In 1991, following the collapse of Soviet Communism, all former church properties, including the St. George Monastery, were returned to the Russian Church and reopened as centers of worship.

Monastic and other forms of religious life are flourishing again in Russia which has been undergoing a religious revival following the fall of communism.

St. George Monastery is now an active monastery once again.

Founding of the Monastery

The Yuryev (St. George's) Monastery was founded in 1030 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise who was given the name George (Yury in Russian) following his baptism into the Christian faith.

The monastery was named in honor of Prince Yaroslav's patron saint, St. George.

St. George's Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in both the Diocese of Novgorod and all of Russia.

In its early years the monastery prospered thanks to the generosity of the Novgordian Princes and wealthy boyars (merchants) of the area.

Many Princes of Novgorod as well as some saints of the Orthodox faith and wealthy boyars were buried in the monastery.

Bell Tower at entrance to St. George's Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia
Bell Tower at entrance to St. George's Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia | Source

Over the centuries the monastery fell on hard financial times and went into a period of decline.

This decline was reversed in the early nineteenth century when the Archimandrite Photius (Spassky), who led the monastery community from 1822-1838 was able to solicit donations to refurbish and expand the monastery.

The largest benefactor was Countess Anna Alexeevna Orlova whose rumored tragic love affair with the Archimandrite Photius will be the subject of another Hub.

Getting to the Monastery

The Yuryev (St. George's) Monastery is located a few kilometers south of Veliky Novgorod on the shores of Lake Liman and the mouth of the Volkhov River in the little village of Yurievo.

It is a few minutes drive by car from the center of Veliky Novgorod. It can also be reached by bus as the local transit system serves this area regularly.

The monastery is open daily and services are held in the St. George's Cathedral at 9:00 a.m. (10:00 on weekends) and 6:00 p.m.

There is no charge to visit the monasteries or its churches.


St. George Monastery

show route and directions
A markerNovgorod, Russia -
Novgorod, Novgorodskaya oblast, Russia
[get directions]

B markerYuryev Monastery, Yur'evets, Novgorod Oblast, Russia -
poselok Yur'evets, Novgorodskaya oblast, Russia
[get directions]

Yuryev (St. George's)Monastery in Village of at the source of the Volkhov River and Lake Limen in the Village Yurievo just south of Veliky Novgorod.

St. George's Cathedral inside the St. George's Monastery in Veliky, Novgorod, Russia.
St. George's Cathedral inside the St. George's Monastery in Veliky, Novgorod, Russia. | Source
Main altar of St. George's Cathedral in St. George's Monastery in Velicky Novgorod, Russia
Main altar of St. George's Cathedral in St. George's Monastery in Velicky Novgorod, Russia | Source
Chandelier and inside of dome over altar in St. George's Cathedral in the St. George's Monastery, Velicky Novgorod, Russia
Chandelier and inside of dome over altar in St. George's Cathedral in the St. George's Monastery, Velicky Novgorod, Russia | Source
Saviour Church & Archimandrite's Bldg in St. George's Monastery, Veliky Novgorod, Russia
Saviour Church & Archimandrite's Bldg in St. George's Monastery, Veliky Novgorod, Russia | Source
St. George icon over entrance to St. George's Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia
St. George icon over entrance to St. George's Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia | Source
Cross Exaltation Church inside St. George's Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia
Cross Exaltation Church inside St. George's Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia | Source
Field for crops inside St. George's Monastery, Veliky Novgorod, Russia
Field for crops inside St. George's Monastery, Veliky Novgorod, Russia | Source
A monk taking a stroll inside St. George's Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia
A monk taking a stroll inside St. George's Monastery in Veliky Novgorod, Russia | Source
Windmill located just outside walls of St. George Monastery in Village of Yurievo, Novgorod Oblast, Russia
Windmill located just outside walls of St. George Monastery in Village of Yurievo, Novgorod Oblast, Russia | Source

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Comments 9 comments

Kalmiya profile image

Kalmiya 4 years ago from North America

Thank you for your wonderful photos of this church, especially the interior shots. These are rarely seen so appreciate them!


Laura in Denver profile image

Laura in Denver 5 years ago from Aurora

Fascinating story and wonderful pictures. Thx!


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

These are gorgeous pictures. When I travel I love to look at Church architecture. I'm glad that the Church was used during the communist era instead of being boarded up.


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

Intriguing history, especially the communist years where it wasn't a monastery. Great photos also, voted-up and interesting.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

I learned something new today, I learned a bit of Russian history. Thanks to you Chuck.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Photos are great as is the article. It provides depth and succinct imagery... Thanks for sharing.

Flag up!


Chuck profile image

Chuck 5 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Paradise7 - glad you enjoyed the Hub. Actually, I am still on vacation and continuing to tour and enjoy the sites of Veliky Novgorad and the companionship of my wife's family who live here. I won't be leaving here for another three days.

The hotel where my wife and I are staying has WiFi in lounge in the main lobby and I published this from there last night. I will be starting another Hub in a couple of minutes after I finish this comment. However, I doubt I will get it posted until this evening as we will be leaving for my in-laws for breakfast in fifteen minutes.

Oh, by the way, this is no longer the USSR, the nation is once again known as Russia.


marellen 5 years ago

Beautiful.....thanks for sharing....


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

Simply awesome! The photos are wonderful, and the background story-fascinating. Thanks, Chuck. Welcome "back from the USSR"!

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