We woke up to a crisp morning, quite cool, with mist rising from the river. We passed a number of little villages that while all different, had a similarity of appearance. Every one had wooden houses, a number of boat sheds along the water line and gardens in which vegetables (predominately potatoes) were grown.
By mid morning, we had reached Goritsy, a tiny settlement with a busy tourist pier and some little houses with ornate windows in a typical Russian fashion. The village is located on the southern shore of Lake Siverskoye. I think that we would have been one of six ships to dock there during the day and the little tourist market from the pier was overflowing with people.
The remains of the Nunnery of the Resurrection sit on the bank of the Sheksna River which empties into the lake just near the port. It was founded in 1554 and, like the Monastery, it suffered during the 20s and 30s but has since been restored to its former use. We didn’t see this other than catching a quick glance as we drove out of town to visit the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery our major stopping point for the day.
Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, loosely translated in English as St. Cyril of Beloozero’s Monastery, used to be the largest monastery in Northern Russia. It is located seven kilometres away from Goritsy. The monastery was dedicated to the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, and was sometimes referred to as the Dormition Monastery of St. Cyril. It was founded in 1397 and still has its original walls and buildings although they were built later. Its founder, St. Cyril or Kirill of Beloozero, following the advice of his teacher, St. Sergius of Radonezh, first dug a cave here, then built a wooden Assumption chapel and a log house for other monks. Shortly before the creation of the monastery, the area fell under control of the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
The vast walled area of the monastery comprises two separate priories with eleven churches, most of them dating to the 16th century. The monastery walls are 732 meters long and 7 meters thick, were constructed in 1654-80. They incorporate parts of the earlier citadel, which helped to withstand the Polish siege in 1612.
Once upon a time, there were many monks here but now there are only six. There is an active church but many of the old buildings are now museums. One had a display of ancient, and very valuable, icons which are so important to the Orthodox church. These are meant to be pictures though which one can see something that is spiritual and mystical. I suspect that in some places, they are seen as being holy in themselves, but this is not their real purpose. I remember one tour guide telling me that one particular venerated icon had performed many miracles. As I understand, this is not the real purpose of an icon and perhaps it was just the guide’s attempt to explain something in English, but it extended the nature of an icon into something that was probably not what was originally intended.
In the original bakery of the monastery, there was a nice display of high quality lace work made from flax. This is a local form of craft and its done very beautifully.
We were back on the ship for a late lunch and we have spent most of the afternoon sailing across Lake Beloye and then into the Volga-Baltic waterway. Towns along the river bank here are few and far between with long stretches of woodland and forest.