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The Zaikonospassky Monastery

The Zaikonospassky Monastery in Moscow Situated on Nikolskaya Ulitsa, a few minutes walk from Red Square, the Zaikonospassky Monastery was founded in 1600 by Boris Godunov, and became famous as the site of the Slavo-Greco-Latin Academy, the first higher education institution in Moscow, which was established in 1687 by order of Feodor III.

The monastery's name refers to the rows of icon sellers that used to ply their trade before the gates of the monastery, initially providing the institution's funding. The buildings that can be seen today centre on the baroque Savior Cathedral, originally erected in 1660-61 and significantly reconstructed in the early 18th Century. The red and white cathedral has an attractive octagonal bell tower, topped with a gilded finial, and is connected via an arcade to the monks' quarters which also date from the 17th Century.

The Academy, which became one of the most important enlightenment centers in Russia, was originally staffed by monks from Kiev and Greece, who brought to Moscow standards of culture and learning that were unmatched elsewhere in Russia at the time, and similar to the contemporary universities of Western Europe. Among the Academy's celebrated students were Vasily Trediakovsky, the poet and academic credited as one of the founders of classical Russian literature, Dmitriy Kantemir, the litterateur, historian, statesman and Moldovan national hero, architect Vasiliy Bazhenov, who designed the Pashkov House, and the great Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov, who went on to found the Moscow University. Although initially, the Academy taught a broad range of subjects, and prepared students for careers in the civil service, medicine and law as well as the church, it eventually became the Ecclesiastical Academy, and was transferred to the Trinity Monastery at Sergiev Posaad in 1814.

The Zaikonospassky Monastery has been used as an archive since the Revolution, and its historic buildings are still undergoing restoration work. Except for the fine cathedral, little remains of architectural interest on the site of the monastery, but its proximity to Red Square makes it an easy place to visit briefly while sightseeing.

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