Pechora — an outpost of Russia and its attractions
The ancient city of Pechora is located in the west of the Pskov Region, just 52 kilometers from Pskov and near the Russian-Estonian border. The history of the city is closely connected with the history of one of the largest centers of Orthodoxy and the most beautiful architectural and historical ensemble — the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery. Now about 12,000 people live in the city.
City `s history
The name of the city, or rather, the monastery comes from the ancient Russian word “pecheri”, which means “caves”. The settlement of Pechora originated at the end of the 15th century as a settlement of the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery. Since then, the history of the monastery and the suburb are inextricably linked: both the city and the monastery have long served as important strategic points on the western border of the Russian state. The Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery arose in the 15th century and eventually became one of the most powerful, wealthy and famous monasteries in Russia.
Almost the whole history of Pechora is the history of incessant wars and the confrontation of the city by foreign invaders:
- at the beginning of the 16th century, the Pechora captured and destroyed the Livonian knights;
- at the end of the XVI century the city suffered from the troops of the Polish king Stephen Batory;
- at the beginning of the 17th century, during the Time of Troubles, Pechora was repeatedly besieged by Polish and Swedish troops;
- At the beginning of the 18th century, the city suffered greatly during the Northern War from the Swedish troops.
By the end of the XVIII century, the Pechora lost their strategic importance, and the town became a regular county. In early 1918, the city was captured by German troops, but by the end of the year Soviet power was established in the city. True, this did not last long, and at the end of March 1919, the White-Estonian landing force occupied Pechora.
From 1920 to 1940, the Pechora were part of Estonia. In May 1939, a terrible fire hit the city, and almost a third of Pechora was destroyed. In 1940, Estonia became part of the USSR, and Pechora became the city of the Estonian SSR.
During the Great Patriotic War, the city suffered great hardships: from July 1941 to August 1944, the Pechora River was occupied. The German invaders did not spare the city: many townspeople died, buildings were destroyed, the monastery was mercilessly looted.
After liberation, the city was transferred from the Estonian SSR to the RSFSR and incorporated into the simultaneously formed Pskov Region. Since 1945, Pechora is the administrative center of the Pechora District of the Pskov Region. After the war, the city was restored, but did not become a large industrial center.
In 2007, the Pechora River was excluded from the border zone, and now everyone can see its sights.
The main attraction of the city is the Holy Dormition Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery. It is located on the outskirts of Pechora and impresses with its beauty, the magnificence of the temples and the unusual geographical location.
The fact is that, unlike most Orthodox churches and monasteries, it is not in a high place, but in a deep hollow between two mountains. The monastery received its name from the local caves in which monks-hermits lived for a long time. They settled in this region at the beginning of the XIV century. The spiritual practices of the Pechersk Monastery are connected with the famous Kiev-Pechersk Monastery (one of the first ancient Russian monasteries) by invisible ties.
In the middle of the XVI century, Ivan the Terrible paid attention to the monastery, stone construction began. Ivan IV noted above all the military defensive significance of the monastery and made of it a fortress.
The monastery-fortress played a major role during the Livonian War. For two months, the defenders of the monastery and the women, old people, and children who helped them kept the defenses against the forces of the Polish king Stephen Batory.
In the entire military history of the Pechersk monastery, it was only once captured by enemies. It happened at the end of the XVI century, when the Swedes suddenly attacked the monastery, but the day after the enemy was knocked out of it.
With the end of the Northern War, the monastery-fortress lost its strategic importance, and it became only the spiritual center.
From 1920 to 1940, the Pechora Monastery was located in Estonia. This saved him from closure and destruction, unlike many monasteries on the territory of the atheistic USSR. In 1941, the occupation of the Pskov land by Nazi troops began, and many of the treasures of the monastery were taken to Germany. After the liberation of Pechora, the monastery was not closed, and the worship in it was never interrupted.
Architectural and artistic ensemble of the Pskov-Caves Monastery
Formed over the long history of the ensemble of the monastery includes:
- fortress walls with nine towers;
- cave church of the Assumption (XV century);
- The Church of the Annunciation (16th century);
- Nikolskaya Gate Church (XVI century);
- two-tier belfry (XVI — XVII century);
- Holy Gates (XVI century);
- large belfry (XVI — XVIII century);
- The sacristy and the library (XVI century);
- the hospital Lazarevskaya church and cells (XVIII century);
- Church of the Intercession (XVIII century);
- St. Michael’s Cathedral (XIX century);
- Sretenskaya Church (XIX century);
- seven caves.
Nowadays, the Pskov-Caves Monastery is one of the most famous and beautiful monasteries in Russia, the spiritual center of Orthodoxy, to which pilgrims from all Orthodox countries of the world strive.
The temples of the monastery
The most ancient temple of the monastery is the Assumption Church. In it are the main shrines of the monastery: the miraculous icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God, the tomb with the relics of Hegumen Cornelius. In the Church of the Presentation of the Lord there are relics of the holy elder Simeon of Pechersk and other holy icons: “Kazan”, “Three-handed”, “Last Judgment”.
The miraculous icons of the Mother of God “Affection” (XVI century) and “Odigitria” (XVI century) are kept in the St. Michael’s Cathedral. The miraculous icons “Assumption” and “Affection” are a peculiar memory of the deliverance of Pskov from the danger of his occupation by the French in 1812. Brought from the monastery icons carried with a procession around Pskov and — oh, a miracle! — the French could not take the city.
Near the monastery they beat two springs with holy water, named after Rev. Vassa of Pechersk.
One of the most significant attractions in Pechora is the caves under the monastery. All year round the air temperature in these mysterious underground premises is kept at + 5 +C.
The total length of the caves is 200 meters, and in fact they are the monastery cemetery where, along with the monks, the ancestors of many famous Russians are buried: V.N. Tatishcheva, M.I. Kutuzova, M.P. Musorskogo, A.N. Pleshcheeva, P. A. Kropotkin and others.
In total, about 10,000 people were buried in the caves: monks, defenders of the fortress, noble nobles, simple laymen. A special attraction of the caves — tombstones of great historical and artistic value. Thanks to the well-preserved inscriptions on stone and ceramic slabs, scientists restored the pedigrees of many noble families.
The Pechora caves are a unique necropolis, which has no analogues in the whole world.
Other sights in Pechory
In the 1920s-1930s, when the Pechora were part of Estonia, quite a few Estonian Lutherans appeared in the city. For them in 1926 a brick Lutheran church was opened. The highest building in this part of the city, giving the city a unique and original look. There is an organ in the temple.
Representatives of one of the smallest peoples, the Seto (Seto), live in the Pechora district of the Pskov region. Today, about 13 thousand people belong to this Finno-Ugric ethnic group, of which just over 200 live in Pechora.
Setu — Orthodox, and for them was built the parish church of St. Great Martyr Barbara. An old iconostasis has been preserved in the church, and the service is held in two languages - Estonian and Church Slavonic.
You can familiarize yourself with the historical past of Pechora in the Museum of the History of the City, and in the village of Sigovo there is a Museum-Estate of the Seto people, representing the life and cultural traditions of this small nation.
The Pskov Region is an ancient Russian land with a unique northern nature. Russian statehood was born here, lived Princess Olga, Prince Igor and Prince Vladimir.
The cities of the Pskov Region are symbols of perseverance and courage, the invincibility of the Russian spirit. One of them is in the west of the region. The sights of Pechora and the Pechora Monastery are unique evidence of the centuries-old history of Russian Orthodoxy, and every year more and more tourists and pilgrims flock to these holy places.