Here in the land of Goritsy one can step back in time to an era that exemplified grace and tranquility where many Russian sanctuaries and sacred places are preserved in their original appearance. Goritsy is a village that is home to the well preserved, fortress-like Kirill Belosersk Monastery, founded in the 15th century, resides on a lake and features a spectacular interior and museum. Uspensky Cathedral with its magnificent display of icons and frescoes is the highlight of the visit. There is one of the best collections of Russian Icons in the World. Ferapont monastery has been registered into UNESCO list as one of the prominent monuments of the world cultural heritage.
This historic complex, located on the shores of Lake Siverskoye, is a collection of the 15th to the 17th century churches.
The Russian North has always appealed to monks and saints. Since the 15th century numerous monasteries and cloisters have been founded throughout the northern part of the country and reached the White Sea coast line. The relics of the saints' bodies still lie intact in the monasteries. Perhaps the cloisters and monasteries went through all the troubles and turmoil of the 20th century thanks to them.
The village of Goritsy can be found on the left bank of the River Sheksna at the foot of the Maura Hill. It is a green stop where tourists, arrived with motor ships, can have a rest and see the attractions of landing stage and its outskirts. In the southern area of the village is the working Goritsy Convent of Resurrection. The Convent was founded in 1544. Subsequently, the monastery became the place of imprisonment for spouses and relatives of the nobles that fell into “disgrace” (Ivan the Terrible`s two wives, Boris Godunov`s daughter and some others). Recently the work of restoration has been undertaken.
About 1,5 km west of the village is Maura Mountain. It is 185 m of height. A magnificent view opens up from it. The legend says that at the top of the hill saint Kirill had a vision of the place as the place to found the monastery. A stone with Kirill’s footprint may be seen there. Close to this stone a Cross and the Chapel of Saint Kirill and Ferapont were erected.
Goritsy’s Kirillo-Belozersky monastery, built in 1397 by St. Kirill, who left a life of luxury to become closer to God. Interestingly, by the 16th century, the monastery was the second richest landowner in Russia and had close connections to ruler Ivan the Terrible. It is surrounded by fortress walls, crowned with magnificent towers, and decorated with brick patterns.
The walled area of the monastery features two priories and eleven churches, most of them dating to the 16th century. The monastery walls, about half a mile long and almost 23 feet thick, were constructed in 1654-80 to hold off Lithuanian invaders.
The other attraction of that region is the cloister, founded by associate of St. Kirill Belozersky - Pherapont. The main treasures of the cloister are frescos and icons, painted by Dionysy who was a great icon painter of the XVI century. Nowadays the frescos in Pherapontov cloister are the only wall-paintings of master that were kept till our days. Tourists can visit the church of the Annunciation, the church of St. Martinian and see the cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.
At the distance of 7 kms from the village is the town of Kirillov.In its way the town of Kirillov and its environs is a unique territory. It also happened that in the course of all the six centuries of its existence Kirillov was a centre of spiritual attraction. Tsars and numerous pilgrims went on a pilgrimage with the only aim – to find peace and enlightment there. The attractive-ness of the place can be easily explained: on the small area there is a gold field of historical and architectural monuments. As a whole, Kirillov district counts 12 churches and 25 civil monuments, which are taken under the guardianship of the State Government.
You can feel the serenity the monks would’ve felt living here. It feels sacred. It feels peaceful. If the role of a monastery is to provide peace and spirituality to this community, then this collection of buildings on the White Lake still serves this purpose.