The Raifa Bogoroditsky Men`s Monastery is located on the land of the state natural reserve of the Volga and Kama rivers, 30 km west of Kazan. This is a famous place of pilgrimage for the Orthodox, who come to see the main shrine of the monastery – an ancient miraculous copy of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God. Here, you can also visit the smallest church in Europe and a holy Raifa Spring with healing water. Nearby, there`s a dense pine forest, which is the part of the Volga-Kama State Nature Reserve. The divine beauty of these places and the Raifa Monastery itself will not leave anyone indifferent. People from all over the world come here to pray, breathe the crystal clear air and admire the majestic churches and untouched nature
Interesting Facts / Legends
The history of the Raifa Monastery is interesting and unique. It begins in 1613, when Hiermonk Philaret came to this land from Moscow and on the bank of the picturesque lake Raifa (Sumy), he built a small hut. At first his hut stood alone, and only occasionally it was disturbed by local Cheremis, who came to the shore of the lake to perform pagan rites. But soon the life of the monk and his hut began to attract many people, some of them settled next to Philaret, wishing also to dedicate themselves to God and a hermit life. In 1661, after the death of Philaret, Kazan Bishop Lavrenty gave a blessing on the construction of the church here. Thus, a lonely hut turned into an Orthodox center. In the second half of the 17th century, a miraculous Georgian Icon of the Mother of God, which is still the main shrine of the Raifa Monastery, was brought here.
The monastery grew and had its peaceful life, until in 1689 it suffered from the terrible fire: the wooden buildings completely burned down. Fortunately, the miraculous icon was saved. From 1690 to 1717, the Raifa monastery was rebuilt, this time out of white stone.
During the Soviet time the monastery was looted and closed. All services were banned; the monks had to conduct them secretly. In 1933 there was a prison for political prisoners, and later a colony for juvenile delinquents. The spiritual life of the holy monastery was cut short for many decades.
In 1991, the Raifa Monastery was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, its restoration began; the miraculous Icon was returned here from Kazan. The monastery regained its shining magnificent once lost, the «soul» of these ancient walls again found its dwell. Today, the Raifa Bogoroditsky Monastery is the largest active monastery in the region.
The architectural ensemble of the Raifa Monastery is striking in its grandeur. It is very beautiful, both outside and inside. The whole complex is designed in the style of Naryshkin Baroque. The monastery is quite small; five stone churches are compactly located on its territory:
Trinity Cathedral – a beautiful snow-white cathedral with bright green domes, the main temple on the territory of the monastery. It has very good acoustics. It`s believed that the singing of the monks can be heard outside the walls of the monastery.
Sofia Church was built in the late 18th century, consecrated in honor of the martyrs Faith, Hope, Love and their mother Sofia. It is believed that this is the smallest church in Europe: it can fit only 7 people inside the temple at one time.
The cathedral in honour of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God which stores the main relic – miraculous Georgian Icon of the Mother of God of the 17th century (a copy made from the Krasnogorsky image).
Bell tower with over-the-gate Church of Archangel Michael, called the “Raifa candle.” The bell tower is located at the entrance to the monastery and this is the first thing you will see when approaching the monastery. This magnificent and beautiful building is the most recognizable building of the Raifa Monastery.
Church in Honor of the Holy Fathers in Sinai and Raifa – one of the oldest stone buildings of the monastery, was named in honor of the monastic settlement of Raif in Sinai, near the sacred mountain.
Georgian Icon of the Mother of God
The miraculous Icon of the Mother of God of Georgia, or the Raifa Icon, is the main treasure of the monastery. This is a copy, the original has been lost.
The history of the miraculous icon began back in 1622, when the Persian shah Habbas, having conquered Georgia, captured a lot of trophies and sold them to Russian merchants, who used to come on business to Iran. The miraculous icon was along with other valuable things. It was splendidly decorated with silver and gold. A lot of copy lists were made from the icon, only four of them are considered miraculous: three are stored in Moscow, one in Raifa.
To this day, the Georgian icon of the Mother of God remains one of the most revered icons of the Russian Orthodox Church. People from all over Russia and from other parts of the world come here to visit the icon, hoping for miraculous healing.
Interesting Facts / Legends
-Raifa Monastery is famous for its silent frogs that do not croak near the monastery. Once, the monks asked God to save them from the croaking of frogs, because they bothered them while singing. God answered their prayer and the croaking of frogs really stopped. Interesting, that they are still silent, although there are a lot of frogs on the lake.
-On the territory of the complex, you can see an unexpected sight – the first monument to the Kazan Cat in Tatarstan and the whole country. There`s another monument like that in the center of Kazan, on Bauman Street.
-Since 1994 there the monastery houses a shelter for orphans.
– During the World War I, a Village of the Invalids appeared near the monastery, here the soldiers mutilated in the battles settled.
Schedule of Divine Services
Raifa Monastery is an active monastery. It is always open for tourists and pilgrims in the daytime.
Divine services are held daily:
The morning prayer on weekdays begins at 7:00, the evening prayer at 15:30 and 20:00.
On Sundays and public holidays, services are held at 7:30, 15:30 and 20:00.
The water sanctuary is open from 7:00 to 20:45.
How to get there
The Monastery of Raifa is located 30 minutes drive from Kazan in the recreational zone of the picturesque Volga-Kama Reserve.
Address of Raifa Monastery: 422537, Republic of Tatarstan, Zelenodolsky District, The Raifa Bogoroditsky Men`s Monastery
Location coordinates: 55.901451, 48.730545.
You can get from Kazan to Raifa on Buses №552 and №554 (departure from the Northern Railway Station).
The beautiful monastery complex can be visited during the bus tour to Raifa or Sviyazhsk.