In the tiny settlement of Goritsy, we will visit the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, founded in 1397, now home to one of the world’s finest collections of Russian icons. After a guided tour, we continue cruising toward the majestic Lake Onega.
The convent is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) north of the town of Kirillov, Kirillovsky District, which was the site of one of the historically most important (as well as wealthiest) male monasteries in Russia, and to which Tsar Ivan the Terrible, discussed below, had planned to retire. The Gediminid Knyaginya (duchess) Euphrosinia of Staritsa founded the Goritsky convent in 1544, about a decade after her marriage to one of Tsar Ivan the Great's sons (who died imprisoned after a succession rebellion in his name), and two years after the marriage of her only son, Vladimir of Staritsa.
In 1563, as the Livonian war with Lithuania, Poland and Sweden led to the Oprichnina, the aristocratic widow was forced to become a nun and kept under house arrest at Goritsky, together with her daughter-in-law, Yevdokiya Staritskaya. Nonetheless, in 1569, Tsar Ivan the Terrible gave orders to drown the two nuns in the nearby Sheksna River. The policy of removing political opponents to religious foundations, common throughout Europe for decades, continued to use the Goritsky convent.