The reason most visitors come to this complex is for its two cemeteries, which hold the remains of some of Russia's leading cultural figures, whose gravestones are works of art themselves, often reflecting the trade of those buried beneath. The monastery was built in 1710, named by Peter after the 13th-century Grand Duke Alexander Nevsky, who defeated the Swedes in a decisive 1240 battle. Nevsky's remains were brought here; his grave was later joined by those of Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky; fellow composers Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka, and Mussorgsky; the architects of St. Petersburg's key monuments; and the brilliant and remarkable founder of Russia's first universities, Mikhail Lomonosov. Cross the bridge over tiny Chornaya Stream to the central monastery courtyard, before you visit the incongruously cheerful Church of the Annunciation. The churches here are more baroque and neoclassical than the medieval monasteries in Moscow. The ticket desk is just inside the arched entrance; ask for a map of the cemeteries. Allow at least an hour and a half to see the grounds and Lazarus and Tikhvin cemeteries (also known as the Cemetery of Masters of Art).
- © Frommer's 2013
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