The Cradle of the Romanov Dynasty

The Ipatiev Monastery, 1911. Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection (Library of Congress)

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Kostroma is located at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers. It was here, at the Ipatiev Monastery, that the future tsar, Michael Romanov, was offered the Russian crown in 1612.

Kostroma was founded by Prince Yuri Dolgoruky in the 12th century. The city’s heyday is connected with the name of a Tatar convert, Prince Chet, who defected to the Russian side during the Mongol invasion of Russia. On his arrival in Kostroma, Prince Chet fell seriously ill and vowed to build a church in honor of Saint Hypatius, who had appeared to him in a dream, if he recovered. Upon recovery, he began the construction of the Ipatiev Monastery. After he was baptized, Prince Chet was named Zechariah. One of the churches on the monastery compound has a connection with Zechariah. Svetlana Vinogradova, chief curator at the Historical Museum of the Kostroma Diocese, comments.

"The Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God will be restored for the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The original church was built by Prince Chet, christened Zechariah, and was made from wood. It was later rebuilt in stone. After restoration, it will be returned to its original location, next to St.Trinity Cathedral."

The restored Romanov boyar palace in Kostroma

Prince Chet’s male line descendants included the Godunov boyars who seized the Russian throne before the arrival of the Romanovs. The Godunovs honoured the monastery and showered it with rich donations. The Godunov sepulcher is located on the premises of the Ipatiev Monastery.

The Romanov family had strong links with the monastery. The Romanovs were descendants of the Ruriks who had ruled Rus’ for 700 years. They were strongly opposed to Godunov and referred to him as an impostor. The future tsar’s father, Fyodor Romanov, was exiled to Siberia for plotting a conspiracy against the Godunovs, while his wife and children were sent to the Ipatiev Monastery. In 1613, weary of Polish invasions and the Godunovs’ intrigues, the boyars pleaded with 16-year-old Mikhail Romanov to mount the throne. Romanov agreed. He got his father out of exile, appointed him the Patriarch and thereby put an end to the Time of Troubles.

The white-stone Ipatiev Monastery is one of the richest monasteries in Russia. The Chambers of the Romanov Boyars host a remarkable exhibition titled ‘The Ipatiev Monastery – the Cradle of the House of Romanov’. Curator Svetlana Vinogradova has this to say.

"The exhibition tells visitors about the Romanovs’ life in Kostroma before Mikhail Romanov ascended the throne in 1613. On display are a wide variety of personal items, a walking stick which belonged to Mikhail Romanov and which was sent to him by Emperor Nicholas I from the Armory in 1834, the gifts from Mikhail Romanov’s mother and father – a reproduction of the Icon of Our Lady of St.Theodore with a cypress icon attached to it from his mother, and a cypress cross from his father."

At the heart of the Ipatiev Monastery is St. Trinity Cathedral, adorned with a majestic icon stand made of linden which has a tall belfry located next to it. The biggest of its bells was a gift from Prince Michael of Kent, one of the Romanovs’ descendants. Svetlana Vinogradova comments.

Interior of the St. Trinity Cathedral, Ipatiev Monastery.

"Prince Michael donated the 8,000-kilo Tsar Michael Bell when he visited Kostroma in 2006. At first, the bell stood in front of the belfry as a landmark. Now, it is at the top, ringing for morning and evening services daily."

Gostiny Dvor with the Church of the Savior is located in Kostroma’s central square. In the 18th – 19th cc. merchants from all over Russia flocked to Gostiny Dvor to sell the food they had produced – gingerbread, fish, meat. The Cheese Exchange is still operating in the left sector of the shopping arcade. Cheese and dairy products from Kostroma and other Russian regions are available at affordable prices. Along with architectural marvels and Orthodox shrines, Kostroma is famous for its main gem – the Volga. Vendors on the pier offer a variety of souvenirs made of linen – tablecloths, towels, skirts, dresses and jackets. Russian cuisine lovers are welcome to the Kostromskaya Sloboda Restaurant which is based on the premises of the Museum of Wooden Architecture near the Ipatiev Monastery. The average price of a meal is $50 for two persons. Kostroma offers a good choice of hotels, one of the most beautiful located 20 kilometers from the city. The Romanov Forest Eco-Hotel is situated in a relict grove.

Source & Copyright: The Voice of Russia
13 December, 2011