Angelic singing and colourful frescoes in the Transfiguration Cathedral, the bell ringing and gold jewelry in the museum complex of the Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius in Suzdal create a feeling of heaven. However, the history of the monastery and Suzdal lands was full of tragedies, and some of the museum expositions remind us of hell. The museum complex combines ten thematic exhibitions, rich with documents and original things connected to Suzdal history.
The vast inner space of the Transfiguration Cathedral doesn’t suppress and seems warm and cozy. You find yourself in a wonderful colourful world. The walls and vaulting of the cathedral are covered by frescos of a famous Russian icon-painter Gury Nikitin. The specialties of his artworks are bright colours and such elements as, for example, “transparent houses”, which are seen both inside and outside at the same time. To demonstrate the importance of earthly images and events, he fills them with the divine golden light. A few frescos illustrate the holy life of St. Euthymius, including choosing the place and building the monastery. You can take photos in the temple, and it is a rare opportunity. From time to time, in the Transfiguration Cathedral small chorus gives a 5-minute concert, sing prayers and church songs, and their angelic voices really touch the heart.
In 1766, Empress Ekaterina II ordered to organize a prison for mad monks in the Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius. However, instead of mad monks, many free thinkers who were disagreeing with the government and monastery prison officials were sent here. One of them was monk Avel. He was a fortune-teller and accurately predicted the fortune of all Russian rulers. The prisoners were kept in a one-man cell, and the most dangerous of them were put into a secret cell. Handcuffs, chains, locks and keys used in prison are exhibited together with the stories of wonderful escapes from the monastery prison.
In 1943, the Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius in Suzdal became a prisoner-of-war camp for the officers and generals including famous general Friedrich Paulus. You can see many photos of that time and recollections of the nurses and interpreters who worked there. They say that Italian officers cooked very well, sang Neapolitan songs, created a football team to play against Hungary. In 1993, the former war-prisoners gifted a sculpture with the inscription “With brotherly friendship and hope for tomorrow’s heaven”.
Five times a day a bell-ringer of the Museum complex of the Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius in Suzdal gives a small concert. Seventeen bells on the bell-tower ring with joy or sadness. They console and give us courage. The music of the bells makes us compare our history with our own life and understand that we all sometimes are between hell and heaven.
Like this story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.