Nilov Monastery (Stolobny Island)

In clear weather with Gorodomly one more island is easily seen - Stolobny, on which there is a monastery of Nilov Deserts. The island is small, flat, and the monastic buildings seem standing right on the water. When you approach the island by boat or on a boat, the monastic constructions begin to rise from the water before your eyes, resembling a theatrical scenery. Comparison with the scenery, perhaps, is inspired not by the opening view, but by popular prints of the last century with the image of the procession to the Nilov Deserts; Nevertheless, the impression is not lost until you swim close to the monastery. Near the numerous churches and structures of the desert do not cause a sense of impregnable place, fenced off from the world, what monasteries of Moscow and Moscow suburbs look like with high walls of fortress.


The Nilov desert, rather, resembles some Leningrad square when you look at it from the Neva or from the canal: granite embankments that encircle the whole island, turrets with columns, similar to park gazebos, a high parapet in front of the main cathedral of the monastery, strict order forms of monastic buildings XVIII-XIX centuries.


The appearance of the Nilov monastery of the deserts is associated with the name of monk Nile, who received the nickname Stolobny nickname Stolobensky. Neil Stolobensky is a historically authentic person. He really was a novice of the Krypetsky monastery near Pskov, where he took the tonsure, and then settled on the river Seremha. But the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, learning about the monastic deeds of the future saint, allegedly began to pester him with their excessive attention, depriving him of solitude, and he decided to move away from the world to a more deaf place. This place was an island, near which were Ostashkovsky settlements, on the other side of the lake - the Nikolo-Rozhkovsky Monastery, and nearby, probably, there were several villages. The glory of this hermit is spreading all over the coast, and from time to time it makes itself felt; then he performs another "miracle" - heals the suffering person, then relieves the inevitable death of a fisherman, caught by a storm on the lake.


In the era of the formation of the Moscow State, the process of canonization of local saints was simultaneously taking place. It is these local saints who became helpers and defenders, intercessors before the throne of the Lord and advisers in any endeavors for the inhabitants of certain lands. In the number of saints very early fall princes - Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Mikhail Tverskoy, the founders of the monasteries - Sergius of Radonezh, Cyril Belozersky and others. Here, in the lake region, the desire to have his heavenly intercessor evidently became the cause of the canonization of the hermit who lived on Stolobny Island, and the Nikolo-Rozhkovsky Monastery actively promoted the affirmation of the name of this saint in the vicinity. The Nikolo-Rozhkovsky Monastery on the western coast of Seliger (on the site of which we still have to visit) emerged as a border with Lithuania monastery of the Moscow principality. The life of the Nile Stolobensky was ordered by his monks and compiled in Moscow. From other canonized saints, Neil Stolobensky is distinguished by such exploits as torture of his flesh with constant vigils and prayers, when even in the short moments of rest he did not lie down, but hung on wooden crutches driven into the wall. With these attributes, he was most often depicted on icons and in wooden sculpture. Much later, Nil Stolobensky will be assigned the functions of a healer of leg diseases, a savior traveling on water and on difficult roads. After the death of Stolobensky hermit on his grave, according to the hagiography, miracles of healing continued to be performed, which was the reason for the formation of the monastery on the island.


The first abbot and actual founder of the Nile Desert was the hieromonk of the Nikolo-Rozhkovsky Herman monastery. He built a chapel over the tomb of the Nile, and about forty years after the demise of the Nile, in 1591-1594, the first wooden Epiphany Church and the bell-tower "pillar of the oak". At the same time, the first icon-painting depiction of Neil Stolobensky appeared, performed "from the words of the elders who knew the Person of God personally and remembered his features", two monks Job and Nifont of Ascension Orsha Monastery, near Tver, downstream of the Volga.

In the first years of the deserts, she lived a miserable existence. It was devastated by the Poles, and only a lucky coincidence saved the monastery from complete extinction. The land around the Stolbots island and the island itself belonged, like Gorodomlya, to boyar Lykov, the closest relative of the tsar, and the abbot in the monastery after the death of Herman was Ostashkov, a man who was undoubtedly of great energy and highly educated for his time, Nektariy. The noble boyar was flattered to maintain a monastery in his patrimony. Neil Stolobensky thus became, as it were, his heavenly patron. Therefore, the desert received all support from Lykov. After him, the princes Trubetskoe, Dmitry Pozharsky, boyar Kolotovsky, and, finally, the tsar himself did not leave the "holy place" without attention. The deposits were so significant that Nektariy rebuilt the monastery. In 1622, the wooden Church of the Intercession was erected "about five chapters on cages", and instead of the burned Epiphany on the grave of the Nile in 1635, a second wooden church of the same name was built. The monastery was surrounded by a fence with an "octopus bell" above the gates, arranged hospital and living rooms. About how the desert looked like under Nektarii, an icon with its image, stored in the Kolomenskoye museum in Moscow, gives a good idea. Wooden church "on the cages" vividly reminds the Church of Shirkov churchyard with the same tiers of decreasing quaternaries, covered in eight skates. The second, somewhat smaller in size, is clearly of a cage type. The log walls of the monastery and the bell tower are not large, behind them are small cells close to each other. In this form, the monastery did not last long. In 1665 there was a severe fire. By morning, only the coals were smoldering in the place of the wooden buildings, but the deserts were so rich by this time that Nektary asked permission to build a stone church and for this purpose went to Moscow, "for a while the Great Sovereign granted 200 rubles to a stone church plant." In the same place, in Moscow, brick, iron, and lime are purchased, and the contractor for stone works is also "the peasant of the princes of Cherkasy - Yakov Nikitin son Golubin", a native of the village of Pavlov Perevoz near Nizhny Novgorod. In 1667 in the monastery laid the first stone Epiphany Church. Three years later it was consecrated. "During construction, from the Tsar and his relatives for the wife of Miloslavsky and Morozov ... from time to time, cash benefits were sent to the structure of the stone church, which also accelerated the course of this structure." However, the first stone monastic building turned out to be imperfect. In two years I had to dismantle the church over the refectory and the bell tower, because "from the disproportionate heaviness of it, there were soon cracks in the meal, over which it stood, and in it itself ...". Instead of the disassembled church, a chapel is attached. The first stone monastery cathedral was not preserved. In its place now stands the majestic classical structure of the beginning of the XIX century, which received the same name - the Epiphany Cathedral, which is yet to be talked about. Numerous icons with views of the monastery, scattered now in various collections, give a fairly good idea of ​​the cathedral that has not reached us. Judging by them, it is possible to reconstruct at least the main volumes of the building, which is extremely important, since it was the first stone structure in the vicinity of Ostashkov, which undoubtedly became a prototype for the city cathedrals erected in the 80s of the XVII century, and its decorative decoration continued to excite the imagination of local architects until the end of the XVIII century. On the images of the cathedral one can note a tall double-faced quadrilateral crowned with rows of kokoshniks, massive drums with large heads rose above the kokoshniks, slender, wide window openings were cut through the walls in a complex ornate frame. And the composition and decorative decoration of the temple are more reminiscent not of Moscow, but of Yaroslavl buildings of the end of the XVII century. Already in 1703 another church with a refectory was attached to the cathedral, in the decorative decoration of which the former forms were repeated. The local craftsmen worked on the creation of this church - "Stashkovsky settlement masons Filat Seleznev and Yermolay Korolev contracted in the Nilovo Pustini to build a stone church with a refectory to the old cathedral church and to a meal for 105 rubles."


Simultaneously with the cathedral began to erect a wall around the monastery (the work was completed by 1676). About their initial appearance can also be judged by icon-painting images and by small fragments preserved in nature. After the powerful fortifications of the monasteries near Moscow, the walls of the Nilova desert look like a weak imitation of them. But this was the only stone fortress in the vast lake district, its defensive purpose is indicated by the presence of loopholes. The rhythmic division of the walls from the outside onto pilasters with primitive bases and capitals gave these structures not so much a kind of fortress as a monastery fence, also more characteristic for the subsequent construction of the late XVII - early XVIII century. Stone construction in the monastery with small interruptions lasted until the beginning of the XX century.


On the monastery's plan it is immediately evident that its territory is very clearly divided into three parts. This is well felt even when you wander among the numerous buildings. The center of the monastery composition is the front yard with the Epiphany Cathedral, which opens from the lake. On the sides of the cathedral, almost along the entire perimeter of the courtyard, cells are placed. Especially important guests who arrived in the Nilova Desert were met at the Bishop's wharf, led up the wide staircase through the arch of the gateway church of the Nile. To get to the cathedral, it was necessary to pass almost throughout the yard, along the episcopal cells and fraternal corps. Before the cathedral an observation deck was built with a view of the bay and the Bishop's wharf; It was from this side that the procession from Ostashkov was approaching the monastery.


Behind the cathedral is the second gate church - Peter and Paul, passing the archway of the gate, you get to the spacious Gostiny Dvor, where the hotel was located for visitors and the house for the lodging of pilgrims. Behind this yard is a slightly smaller third. Stable courtyard. In a small bay there was a pier and a dock, along the shore there were monastery warehouses and buildings intended for various economic services: cellars, soaps, barns, and aside - forges, workshops and other buildings of extensive monastic economy. The whole southern part of the island was assigned to gardens and orchards.


Behind the gardens and orchards there was a cemetery where only monks and persons who donated a considerable amount of money to the monastery were buried. Not far from the desert, in a small artificial pond, for a long time the fish was caught, from where it was caught as needed. In some neighboring rivers, monastery mills were built. Flours were required a lot to feed the endless crowds of pilgrims, to make and distribute beggars for the poor, spreading from all over Russia.


Among the monastic brothers were blacksmiths, shoemakers, furriers, artists, locksmiths, stonemasons, carpenters. In the second half of the last century there were even monk-mechanics and monk captains in the Nilovo desert, carrying two monastic steamships along the lake, which transported pilgrims from Ostashkov and back and brought them to the village of Svapusha, from where the pilgrimage to the sources of the Volga began. Big income brought the monastery sculptures of Neil Stolobensky, carved from wood, these figures were different - the size of the palm and the height of human growth. The biggest ones were cut for churches, while the small ones were carried everywhere by pilgrims, along with them getting even far to Siberia. Enterprising peasants from the surrounding villages very quickly realized the profitability of this "fishery" and began to cut and sell the wooden Nile. The folk fantasy gave the saint the appearance of bright everyday details. These sculptures evoke a smile with their naive interpretation of the image of the old man, in them the features peeped out in life openly appear. Such a free interpretation of the image was not very popular with church authorities who issued a decree strictly prohibiting peasants from cutting and selling the figures of the Nile Stolobensky. But with the decree little was considered, and until the end of the XIX century, the wooden Nile continued to come out from under the tool of local craftsmen. Often, women sculpted the sculptures.


In addition to wooden sculptures, copper icons and crosses were made in monasteries, and from the second half of the 19th century these manufactures are increasingly replacing the sale of painted lubok pictures depicting the procession to the Nilov Deserts. Each participant in the procession, who collected countless crowds of worshipers from all over Russia, sought to carry with him for memory such a popular print that was printed in the printing house and sold in the monastery or in Ostashkov. For particularly rich visitors, the monastery could offer icons with the life and wonders of the Nile Stolobensky, books, among which were books on the history of the monastery and even tea sets depicting the procession to the deserts. But, in spite of the developed monastic economy and by-products, the main income item was contributions, donations, those copper polushki that believers brought with them.

The complex of the Nilov Monastery of the Deserts is very large. It consists of two dozen independent buildings and structures. Restoration of the complex is just beginning, and the first studies undertaken by the architect VI Yakubeni have shown that some monastery buildings have reached us, having survived five to seven construction periods.


The most ancient monastic buildings date back to the end of the 17th century, but you do not notice them immediately. For example, the church of the Nile, renamed in 1723 in the Church of All Saints and standing in the north-west corner of the front yard, built in 1699 by the apprentice of stone works by Nikifor Terentyev "with comrades", after several alterations acquired the appearance of a late classic building. Instead of five chapters (four corners were wooden), there was only one, but they also built it up so that the church seemed taller. The fronts rose above the kokoshniks, and they themselves disappeared under a thick layer of plaster, and the walls were decorated with pilasters. To restore the original appearance of this building, which consisted of a quadrangle, closed by a closed vault and connected by passageways with hospital wards and two chambers of a bureau of the time, it will probably be difficult.


Near the church of All Saints, along the northern side of the front yard, a single-storey building, the so-called refectory building, was built a little earlier, in 1667-1669, close to the fortress wall, where there were a kitchen, a kvass factory with a cellar and a glacier, the emergency room, hospital cells and three fraternal cells. Only by the characteristic curb for the end of the 17th century, which once adorned the cornice belt separating the lower floor from the upper one, and by the small surviving fragments of the northern facade that once served as a fortress wall, one can understand that the base of this structure is an ancient building. One-story, it lasted a little over a hundred years. In 1779-1781, Ostashkov's philistine mason Fedor Dmitriev over the western part of the building built cells intended for a rich monastery investor - the Toropets landowner Ivan Sergeevich Chelishchev, who took tonsure and settled in the desert. In 1804-1805, also the Ostashkov philistine mason Yakov Yemelyanov Korobanov "with his comrades" built up, now on the east side, the second floor and, probably, at the same time extended the hull. The modest long facade of this building, decorated on the top by identical frame platbands reminiscent of the casing of Ostashkov's houses, was apparently designed to emphasize the rich "ornamental" architectural decor of the old monastery cathedral.


From the south-west side of the monastery cathedral in 1680-1698, the State Chamber with treasury cells is being built. It was this building and was most of all built up, and now you can see its ancient part only by going to a small inner courtyard, located behind the building with a portico. On one of the walls of this patio, a few preserved windows of the Treasury were miraculously preserved. One of them could clearly serve as a prototype for the decoration of the church in the village of Rogozh. Inside the chamber, in some rooms, vaulted ceilings survived. Over the construction of this building, which now represents a whole conglomerate of different premises, for more than two hundred years, many Ostashkov craftsmen worked. Among them one should name Ivan Semyonov Mosyagin, undoubtedly a gifted master whose work belongs to the original church of the Smolensk Mother of God Odigitria (1750-1756) in the village of Okovtsi (the village is located near the village of Selizharova - the district center of the Kalininskaya region). The name of this master is to be mentioned again in connection with the construction of the Nile Desert. Together with another master - Login Suslennikov - in 1775 they built "behind the priests' cells stone cells and kitchen." In 1751, the construction of the Bishops' Chambers began on the eastern side of the front yard. The upper floor of the chambers remained for a short time wooden. The beginning of their construction is connected with the name of Thomas Pavlov (Kozlov?) - a peasant of the sub-monastery settlement of the Trinity Selizharovsky Monastery. Highly gifted master, he for more than ten years has been associated with construction in the Nile Desert, taking large contracts and heading a large artel team. Foma Pavlov not only directed the work, but he himself participated in the construction. Later, in the 1800-1801 year. Bishop's chambers were connected with the Treasury and the parish corps by fraternal cells. Apparently, in 1822 the fraternal cells and the Treasury Chamber were united by a semicircular deaf courtyard. How to look these different and different buildings, it is now almost impossible to imagine, because in the 30s of the XIX century they were all brought under one roof, and the facade facing the lake received a single architectural treatment, designed by the Tver province architect Ivan Fedorovich Lviv in the forms of pseudo-Gothic. The merchant of the city of Vladimir, Vasily Feofilaktovich Kiryugin, was the contractor for the reconstruction of all these buildings. The work was carried out intensively "for the folding of their workers at the same place on a specially made basement and granite ... two-storyed below and above ... brotherly cells with copulation on the western side of the treasury pantry of one face wall with internal old walls ... paid ... 2250 rubles. "


The middle and second half of the XVIII century is a period of intensive construction in the monastery, when its most interesting buildings and structures appeared. In 1751-1555, on the site of the old eastern holy gate, the gate church of the Nile was built on donations. The contractor and the builder was Foma Pavlov. Numerous monastic documents of those years paint a picture of the relationship that reigned between the customer and the contractor: "Foma Pavlov, against the contract, has fewer employees and in the proper structure repairs unlawfulness and disobedience, and other disorders, and in addition to dismantling the old Holy Gates and cells and requires money 50 rubles., And taking the money for a contract, half, namely 200 rubles, fled ... It is ordered to find this fugitive and punish him with flogs, keep in the act of being bound. And for dismantling the Holy Gates and old cells to give him money 30 Rublev. " The first tier of the building of the gate of the Nile Church is a gate with two wickets on each side, through which the pilgrims arrived to the monastery, and the upper tier is the church of a centric type, eight-petalled in plan, reminiscent of the gatehouse of the Donskoi monastery in Moscow in 1713. Among Ostashkov's monuments is the only building of such a composition. Apparently, Thomas Pavlov was fairly familiar with the metropolitan architecture. The facades of the Nile church are divided into two tiers. The lower is decorated with shovels, over the windows there are platbands with white-stone cartouches and with iridescent blue tiles; cornices with a complex profiling, arching above the windows, form a kind of beam gables. The upper tier is more modest - the rotunda, covered with a dome and dismembered from the facades by the blades. Until 1832, this church was crowned with an octagon, which ended with five chapters. As soon as a new monastery cathedral was built, the octagon was dismantled. Its magnificent multicolor has ceased to be in harmony with the silhouette of the massive cathedral. Instead, the rotunda was covered with a dome with a modest drum and a cupola on it.


Works on the reconstruction of the Nile Church ended in 1838, and were carried out by coach Nikifor Gavrilovich Pozharsky from the city of Torzhok, one of the relatives of the same Pozharsky, who kept a famous hotel in Torzhok, and which Pushkin glorified in his poems. The fact that the construction work was conducted by the coachman should not be surprising. Simply Nikifor Pozharsky was only assigned to yamschitsky estate, but like his family, being a man of enterprising, threw little benefit and heavy yamschitsky carting and began building the craft, while taking a row. We note in passing that the documents Nil's desert is not just about these people of different classes, it would seem, have no relation to the construction and finishing work: master painters - Lieutenant Ilya Mikhailovich Verzin merchant Joachim F. Samsygina, master carver - Kupetsky son Peter Gavrilovic Filoshin, and so on.


The second gate church - the church of Peter and Paul with a room for the gatekeeper, located above the western gate leading to the Gostiny Dvor, was built in 1760-1764 by the mason Foma Pavlov. It is interesting that, being a church, it simultaneously resembles the bell tower of the Trinity Cathedral in Ostashkov, especially the design of the lower tier by twin columns with a hanging weft between them and brick cartouches in the second tier. In contrast to the church of the Nile in this monument is much less traced capital features. The similarity of the gate church of Peter and Paul with the bell tower is not accidental. Before the construction of multi-storey bell tower of the Cathedral of the Annunciation crowning its high octagonal drum, put a few elongated octagonal base of the temple itself, in the panorama of the monastery really looked like the highest vertical, serving as a composite accent. You can get into the very room of the temple only by the inner staircase. At the level of the second tier there was a gallery with a metal grill. After the end of the construction work, interior decoration was started. Stucco cartouches and bas-relief compositions on Gospel themes on the walls of Peter and Paul's Church have direct analogy with the stucco decoration in another monastery church - the Exaltation, filled Kondratii Semenov Konyagin and unpreserved carved iconostasis and very legshinu painted Boris Erimeev Utkin - one of the masters of a large dynasty Ostashkovskaya painters Utkin.


The Church of the Exaltation, built in 1784-1788, stands apart from the monastery complex, on a small promontory. At first glance, it may seem to be a construction not of local masons, but of invited from outside - its proportions, volumes and decor are very unusual. However, it is for certain that the capitals for its pilasters were made by the Ostashkov craftsman. The stucco decoration here is more strict, restrained, than in the church of Peter and Paul, in it the influence of the capital samples is much more appreciable. Even the monarchic attention of Alexander I, who visited Nilov's deserts, attracted the decoration of this church, filled with Ostashkov's "remnant Kondraty Semyonov Konyagin." According to the historian of the last century V. Uspensky, Kondraty Semenov Konyagin was engaged not only in stucco work, but also correspondence of books, distinguished himself by "pious ascetic life" and finally took monastic vows. His mastery was well known outside the Nile Desert, he was invited to perform stucco and carved works at the Valaam Monastery on the Ladoga Lake. Painting in the church was performed by Ilya Mikhailov Verain and Semyon (Eremeev?) Utkin is another representative of the hereditary dynasty of the Ostashkov painters. According to observations made by restorers V. V. Filatov and L. M. Koltunova, the paintings of the Vozdvizhenskaya church have a great similarity with the painting of the gatehouse of the Peter and Paul Church in the monastery and the Resurrection Cathedral in Ostashkov. It is possible that the same artel worked on the decoration of all these churches.


Among the buildings of the Nilovaya Desert, two towers are part of the northern monastic wall erected in 1766. In their forms still continue to live the traditions of the fortress architecture, while the lush treatment angles rusticated pilasters with capitals, finely profiled cornices and window frames are of baroque character, and next to them made framing the window opening with a shaped keel-shaped finial and columns of beads and wire harnesses, repeating decorative decoration of the window frames of the Treasury Chamber.


After the magnificent magnificence of the front monastery courtyard and numerous churches, the economic and residential buildings look more modest, although in comparison with the same buildings in the city, some of them are very large. The monastery economy required large cellars, warehouses, stables and ancillary facilities, and in all this there is a sense of scope, prosperity, a strong economic hand. Many of these buildings were built at the same time as the churches, in the second half of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, so that you become acquainted with them and begin to imagine more fully how large the scale of the entire monastic construction was at that time. In 1764, Ivan Semenov Mosyagin, mentioned already by us, together with his brother Alexei, began to erect a stable yard. From the side of the lake it was fenced off by a high stone wall decorated with rustic pilasters, and from the side of the Gostiny Dvor they put high entrance gates with an attic and a kiottsem in the center, which gave the gates a view of the triumphal arch. Stables and outbuildings are placed freely around the perimeter of the yard. At the beginning of the XIX century, the northern stable building was rebuilt by master Sergei Potapov Tolstikov, who added several rooms and an open arcade to it. Even without knowing the names of the masters, whose hands are made of all these buildings, you immediately understand that the construction of the stable was carried out by local masons. The walls of the building are decorated with decorative details with a characteristic combination of baroque and 17th century forms, the kyot above the entrance gate to the courtyard is remarkably similar to the kyot at the bell tower of the Smolensk church of the Zhitenny monastery, and the arcade along the northern building gave this economic structure the appearance of a public urban structure. Apparently, right after the completion of the stable yard, the brothers Mosyagins started construction of other economic monastery buildings - "four stone barns and a hawthorn" standing along a small bay to the south of the main complex. During the time of its existence, economic buildings have been altered and expanded. Therefore, some of them lost their original appearance, and only for small fragments, preserved here and there on the facades, you can guess when they arose. In the same way, two other monastic buildings were repeatedly rebuilt - a drawing room and a hospice, built one - in 1731, and another - in 1737.


Numerous iconographic images of the Nile Desert of the XVII - XIX centuries, stored in various art museums and found in churches, give a good idea of ​​how the appearance of the monastery changed, how rich it was and how it was built. From a small abandoned monastery, which dozens appeared in the XVI - XVII centuries, the desert turned into one of the largest monasteries in Russia, became a whole city of monks on the island. For his very rich visitors at the end of the 18th century, a large two-story building was put up on the site of the tightened one-storey living rooms of cells, and a few years later they completed the construction of an equally large three-story hospice house where monastic investors lived out the last days and permanently changed so-called workers who worked in the monastery on the vow. Both of these buildings, built in a classical style with details of baroque decoration in the design of the facades, are almost unmatched in size in the monasteries of that time.


Deserts every year became more popular and crowded. Even on small holidays, the monastery of pilgrims that filled the Nile became crowded in the old monastery cathedral. In its place, it was decided to build a new cathedral. In the beginning of the XIX century the monastery is so rich and popular that its rector asks "permission to contact the architect of Russia ... Her Imperial Majesty Princess Ekaterina Pavlovna ... on drawing up a plan for the new cathedral ...". Karl Ivanovich Rossi, busy in those years with the restructuring of the Tver Travel Palace, apparently with great relish began to design the monastery cathedral and soon finished it. Researchers creativity of Russia note that this was, perhaps, the most bizarre creation of the architect's imagination, and they see in the complex project the voluminous-spatial composition of the cathedral combining the forms of pseudo-Gothic and classicism, the influence of the early structures of the young architect of his work and training in the expedition of the Kremlin structure Catherine in the Ascension Monastery of the Moscow Kremlin - not preserved - and the superstructure of the tent of St. Nicholas Tower). In 1813 the monastery paid the architect for the project a large sum for those times and issued running money for travel from St. Petersburg to the Nilova Desert and back. At first, apparently, the work attracted the architect, and he carefully worked out plans, facades, sections "with the signification of the iconostasis." It is difficult to understand why the project itself was not realized: whether the architect himself, having visited the monastery, was convinced of the unreality without constant supervision on his part to realize the plan, or the colossal load of fulfilling orders of the reigning surname absorbed all his attention, or time was lost

Deserts every year became more popular and crowded. Even on small holidays, the monastery of pilgrims that filled the Nile became crowded in the old monastery cathedral. In its place, it was decided to build a new cathedral. In the beginning of the XIX century the monastery is so rich and popular that its rector asks "permission to contact the architect of Russia ... Her Imperial Majesty Princess Ekaterina Pavlovna ... on drawing up a plan for the new cathedral ...". Karl Ivanovich Rossi, busy in those years with the restructuring of the Tver Travel Palace, apparently with great relish began to design the monastery cathedral and soon finished it. Researchers creativity of Russia note that this was, perhaps, the most bizarre creation of the architect's imagination, and they see in the complex project the voluminous-spatial composition of the cathedral combining the forms of pseudo-Gothic and classicism, the influence of the early structures of the young architect of his work and training in the expedition of the Kremlin structure Catherine in the Ascension Monastery of the Moscow Kremlin - not preserved - and the superstructure of the tent of St. Nicholas Tower). In 1813 the monastery paid the architect for the project a large sum for those times and issued running money for travel from St. Petersburg to the Nilova Desert and back. At first, apparently, the work attracted the architect, and he carefully worked out plans, facades, sections "with the signification of the iconostasis." It is difficult to understand why the project itself was not realized: whether the architect himself, having visited the monastery, was convinced of the unreality without constant supervision on his part to realize the plan, or the colossal load of fulfilling orders of the reigning surname absorbed all his attention, or the time was lost, and he himself, abandoning his hobbies in his youth pseudo-Gothic forms, did not want his imagination to become flesh. The project probably was not even transferred to the monastery, and to all inquiries concerning him, Rossi responded with stubborn silence. Desperate to get the creation of the capital master, the monastery commissioned a project for the less known architect - "former Tver Governor Andrey Trofimov, who was dismissed from his post", who proposed the option of rebuilding the ancient cathedral, but he was not implemented either. In addition to AA Trofimov, the cathedral was designed by another architect - Melnikov (the name in the documents is not specified). However, this project remained only on paper.


Only in 1821 was finally begun the construction of the new Epiphany Cathedral according to the project of Joseph Ivanovich Charlemagne, which ended in the rough by 1833. By its size, this grandiose construction can be compared with the cathedral of some district town like Kashin or Arzamas. Not so long ago, collecting documents for the restoration of the Epiphany Cathedral, MG Karpova established a very curious fact. I. I. Charlemagne first proposed his project for a contest for St. Isaac's Cathedral, but his plan was not satisfied by the St. Petersburg authorities, and the project was almost completely changed in the Nilovo Desert. I. I. Charlemagne was only the author of the project, the building was erected under the supervision of the stone business of the master - the Swiss, the native of the city of Lausanne - Angelo Dementieva Bottani. The construction was carried out very intensively: within one year the old cathedral was broken and laid the foundations for a new one, "in order to make a cathedral stone church with a bell tower in the same desert according to the approved plan and facade ... with a special look at the master's stone works, in four, and at least in five years ... "masons with artels contracted - Streltsov Vasily Semyonov from the city of Podolsk and Malinin Agafon Kosmin, a native of Starkovo village of Sudogdolsky district of the Vladimir province. The final decoration of the interior was delayed for many years. In its splendor, it surpassed many of the palace and religious lateclass buildings of the capital's architecture. Not only Ostashkov's but also the craftsmen from other places worked on his decor. Some interior decoration projects were carried out by the Tver provincial architect IF Lvov.


By its type, the Epiphany Cathedral is close to the three-nave basilica buildings, topped with five domes (the sixth, nadltarny, the dome - the late one), in the west a four-tiered bell tower is built into its volume, and the facades are decorated with powerful six-columned Tuscan porticoes. The central high-light drum is decorated with half-columns with ionic capitals and is supported inside by huge pylons of complex configuration. The other four drums are low, deaf, almost without any decor and widely spaced in the corners. Together with the central they pyramid finish the building. It should immediately be noted that the bulk of the building is designed more for the perception of it from the lake. Being in the front yard, it is difficult to grasp the whole grandiose structure. With their heavy massive porticos and large planes of walls, dismembered only by light apertures, the cathedral, standing on a high granite pedestal, suppresses the viewer - you want to move away to better view it. And only getting inside, really begin to understand how he is huge. Through the bright streams of light from the central drum and windows, the opposite wall seems to sink in the haze. Probably, the desire to cover as much as possible the interior of the central nave and you can explain the construction of the sixth, nadapsidnogo dome in the second half of the XIX century. All the walls, pillars and pilasters were decorated with artificial multicolored marble. On the top there was a wide molded cornice with gilded details of magnificent ornamentation. Poles ended with stucco capitals, arches and domes covered with bright tempera painting of architectural ornament, made in the grisaille technique, in the niches were silver and gilded shrine of "holy relics".


After the end of the cathedral in Nilovo, the deserts began to strengthen the banks of the Stolobny Island with granite embankments. Actually, these works were conducted earlier. Strong winds blowing from the Kravotynsky and Ostashkovsky stretches, brought with them waves that destroyed the coast of the island. Exiled in Nilov desert on the orders of the Synod of Metropolitan Ignatius Krutitsy resin adherent queen Evdokia Lopukhina first engaged in the strengthening of the coast of oak piles, but they rot, and had to be replaced. Judging by the monastery documents, granite embankments ("walls of wild stone") were partially built already in the middle of the XVIII century.


Formation of the ceremonial monastic facade from the side of the lake - Bishop's Wharf - began in 1813, when a pavilion decorated with porticoes and a spire was put ashore. After the construction of the cathedral it was necessary to complete the design of this part of the island. Erected in front of the cathedral under the supervision of architect volnopraktikuyuschego from Saratov PN Uryupina granite retaining wall with cast iron parapet prevents slumping of the soil and serves as a viewing platform, became a kind of foundation for the further construction of granite embankments around the entire island. Before the cathedral at the Bishops' quay the embankments were made high, and then they fell in places, rising only three or four rows of blocks above the water. Material for them was abundantly extracted from the surrounding fields. The length of the blocks was different, depending on the size of the stone, and the height was approximately the same, so that it was easier to lead the masonry. Blocks were fitted close to each other, and only in the upper rows and the most critical areas "dikootesanny stone" embankments fastened pyrones and metal bonds, which nests filled with lead. The project of granite embankments was designed by the provincial architect IF Lvov, the author of the pseudo-gothic facades of the fraternal buildings of the monastery. The personality of this interesting and prolific architect, who studied at the "school of the expedition of the Kremlin buildings," a lot and successfully work more than a quarter century in the Tver province, is still waiting for its researcher. for the construction of embankments work in the desert and were even designed by the architect, but without the direct involvement of the peasants of the village Yakonovo Novotorzhsky County - Ivan Timofeyev and Agathon Ivanov - were completed mainly in the 50s of the last century.

The last major monastic building is the gate tower Svetlitskaya (1863), standing on the north-eastern promontory of Stolobny Island. The tower is built in belated forms of classicism. Its lower tier served as a gateway through which passed into the monastery, the cells of the gatekeeper and watchman were placed in the upper one, a high spire rose above the drum, where during a bad weather, a blizzard or a storm on the lake, a lantern lit at night. Much later the strait in front of the tower, separating the island from the mainland, was almost completely blocked by a dam, which became the main road to the desert. After the Svetlitsky tower, new buildings did not appear in the monastery, although some repairs and alterations were still underway. Here, according to old memory, the pilgrims continued to flock in crowds, but among them there were fewer and fewer who, ending their earthly path, could deny the monastery a fortune or make a rich contribution. It was in those years in the desert, in order to support its former magnificence and attract pilgrims, the mass production of popular prints, dishes with the views of the monastery, copper icons and crosses is being put into practice, they are issued in a mass edition of the book with the history and life of the Stoloben hermit, but all this was only able to support monastery, little that adds to the former wealth. Nilova desert began to gradually become poor. The number of monks and free workers' hands has decreased. The monastery at the beginning of this century survived, like the town of Ostashkov, a brief revival with the opening of the Bologoe - Velikie Luki railway line, but it lasted only a few years. The First World War began. Deserts became less and less necessary, and soon after the Great October Socialist Revolution, when the counterrevolution was building its nest, the young Republic of Soviets had to take extreme measures - to liquidate the conspiracy that had grown up in the monastery and to close the monastery. On its territory was formed a commune, then a children's labor colony. During the Great Patriotic War there was a hospital here. On a high hill at the pier - the mass grave of soldiers of the Soviet Army who died in the hospital from wounds. After the war, the former monastery was again given to the children, and soon it housed the Nursing Home. Now in the Nile Desert there is a hostel "Dawn", where you can get equipment and go on an exciting journey through the lake. Extensive monastic buildings are restored and adapted to the largest on Seliger recreation center, where you can come all year round.

57° 14' 6.9648" N 33° 3' 43.0056" E