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The Belogorsky Monastery of St. Nicholas is a monastery situated on the edge of Mount Belaya (the Ural Mountains), at a distance of 85 kilometres (53 miles) from the city of Perm and at a distance of 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the town of Kungur.
In 1891, to commemorate the fact that Tsesarevich Nicholas, the heir to the Russian throne (later, Emperor Nicholas II), had escaped from danger during his visit to Japan, a large cross (10.65 metres, or almost 35 feet) was erected on Mount Belaya; people dubbed the cross the Tsarsky ("Tsar") Cross.
On 18 June 1893, a site on Mount Belaya was consecrated, for laying the foundation of a church. The construction works on the first, wooden, church were finished as early as in February 1894. The same year (1894), construction of the abbot's block and the brethren's block started; later, these blocks housed a woodworker's workshop and a turner's workshop. A school for orphan boys was opened; until the 1917 Russian Revolution, 25 orphans had been educated on Mount Belaya. In the Monastery's school, children were taught reading, church singing and various crafts.
On 16 September 1897, the first cross procession arrived at Mount Beleya, from Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The procession delivered five holy icons to Mount Belaya:
– a copy of the icon of Our Lady of Kazan;
– an icon of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh;
– an icon of Our Lady of Kazan painted by monks of Valaam Monastery;
– an icon of St Blessed Prince Aleksandr Nevsky;
– an icon of Our Lady Novice.
However, as early as in three years after it was built, on 16 November 1897, the wooden church was completely destroyed by a fire. The same year (1897), construction works on a stone, two-storey block for elder brethren started.
On 24 June 1902, a solemn consecration of a site for laying the foundation of a stone cathedral church of the Exaltation of the Cross was held; the cathedral was designed to have two altars, that of St. John the Forerunner and the Baptist and that of St. Nicholas of Myra, a wonder-worker and holy hierarch.
The construction of the Cathedral lasted for 15 years; after having been completed, the Cathedral had room for 8,000 people. The project's head engineer was Ye. Artyomov; construction material was supplied by the Monastery's brickworks.
The Cathedral was completed and opened in 1917; its consecration lasted from 7 June to 9 June, with the ceremony attended by around 30,000 people.
On 8 December 1910, during his audience with Emperor Nicholas II, Varlaam, the archimandrite (abbot) of the Belogorsky Monastery, presented the Emperor with a book on the history of the Belogorsky Monastery including its photographs.
Constructed in the Byzantine style, the architecture of the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross is reminiscent of that of Kiev's Cathedral of St. Vladimir. The Cathedral was equipped with a ventilation system and a steam heating system. The Cathedral's total value was estimated at 230,000 roubles.
The Cathedral was constructed using both donations from individuals and the Monastery's own funds. According to reports for the year 1909, the Monastery practised agriculture, animal husbandry, bee-keeping and fishing, it owned around 630 hectares (around 1.560 acres) of land, and it had 40 cows and 9 ponds.
The Belogorsky Monastery's Cathedral became Perm Diocese's most grandiose church.
However, tragic events happened as early as in 1918. On 12 August 1918, Bolsheviks tortured the archimandrite Varlaam to death and threw him to the Kama River. From August 1918 through January 1919, Bolsheviks shot and tortured to death 34 monks of the Belogorsky Monastery.
On 24 February 1919, General Verzhbitsky's anti-Bolshevik forces, by an accelerated march from Kungur, liberated, among other things, Mount Belaya from Bolsheviks. By that time, Bolsheviks had devastated and looted the Monastery. In four months, on 18 June 1919, Bolsheviks captured Perm and, soon after, the entire Perm Region; and in four years, in March 1923, the Monastery was conclusively shut down.
In the 1930s, a camp for the politically repressed and the forcibly relocated was opened on Mount Belaya; and a year later a home for the disabled was opened.
In 1941–1945, during the Second World War, a rehabilitation centre for the wounded and the crippled in the war was situated on Mount Belaya.
In 1946–1986, a home for the crippled in the war, for disabled workers and for the disabled since childhood was situated on Mount Belaya.
In 1980, a fire erupted inside the Belogorsky Monastery's Cathedral; the fire damaged the Cathedral badly: specifically, almost all the Cathedral's domes burned down.
The beginning of the Monastery's revival is considered to be the years 1988 and 1989, when the 1000th anniversary of the Christianisation of the Kievan Rus was being celebrated.
On 24 December 1990, Perm Regional Executive Committee (the local government) decided to hand over the former cenobitic friary of the Belogorsky Monastery of St. Nicholas to Perm Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In 1993, a restoration design for the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross and for the entire Belogorsky Monastery was developed.
In 1999–2002, 120 million roubles were spent for the restoration.
In Perm Region's local budget, there were around 60 million roubles allocated for the purpose of restoration in 2006 and 18 million roubles in 2007.
In May 1996, the Monastery was visited by Patriarch Alexius II, the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
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