Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery (Иосифо-Волоколамский монастырь)

Image of Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery



Location: 17 km Northeast of Volokolamsk, Moscow Oblast      Map

Established: 1479 by Joseph Volotsky


Description of Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery

Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery is a Russian Orthodox monastery is located 17 km Northeast of Volokolamsk in Moscow Oblast in Russia. It was established in 1479 by Joseph Volotsky. Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery is a medieval Russian Orthodox convent that was founded in 1479 by Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk. By the middle of the XVI century, the monastery became one of the richest in Russia, as it was patronized by Tsar Ivan the Terrible. The oldest building of the Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery is a monumental refectory, built in 1504. It is an one room, structure, modeled after the Moscow Kremlin's Faceted Chamber. North side of the refectory is believed to be a burial site of Malyuta Skuratov. He became famous as one of the worst henchmen of Ivan the Terrible. Fortunately for Russians he was killed in 1573 during a siege.

Assumption Cathedral of Joseph-Volokolamsk Monasterywas built in the late XVII century at the expense of the deacon Zachariah Silin. The Cathedral is a square in layout and richly decorated with tiles, friezes, columns, domes with the original tent roof. Inside the cathedral is dominated by miraculously preserved carved iconostasis of the XVII century adored by golden columns. Basement of the church also holds a crypt with the body of the monastery founder, Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk. Most of church's frescoes date back to the early 20th century. It was painted by Palekh masters in pseudo- medieval style.

Five-domed Gate Church of St. Peter and Paul was completed in 1589 thanks to contributions of Malyuta Skuratov that he left to the monastery in his will. It is largely kept its historic appearance and undergone very few changes.

Outside defensive wall and towers date back to the middle of the XVII century. New walls replaced military medieval fortifications that were badly damaged during the Time of Trouble in the late 16th and early 17th century. At the time of the construction these walls and towers were still used for military defense, but monastery residents added figural polychrome brickwork and tiles to improve its appearance and make it more festive.

At the end of the XVII century, the monastery bell tower was erected reaching a height of 10 levels. Its height was only five meters below bell tower of Ivan the Great in the Moscow Kremlin, what was the tallest building in Moscow for several centuries. The bell tower was blown up during the World War 2. Today only few ruins are visible today under a protection of a wooden canopy.

Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery had always a dual service. On one hand it was a religious convent. But on the other hand premises of Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery served as a dungeon for political and war criminals. In different times it house political prisoners like Vasily Shuisky, artists like Maxim the Greek, Polish and Napoleonic French prisoners of war.


In 1920 Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery was closed by the atheist government and only in 1999 Monastery was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.