Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt
Saint Catherine's Monastery is a monastery on the Sinai peninsula, at the foot of Mount Sinai, in Egypt. It was built by order of the Emperor Justinian between 527 and 565 enclosing the Chapel of the Burning Bush ordered built by Helena, the mother of Constantine I, at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush. the bush is purportedly alive and on the grounds. Though it is commonly known as Saint Catherine's, the actual name of the Monastery is the Monastery of the Transfiguration.
The Monastery library preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library.
The site was associated with St. Catherine of Alexandria (whose relics were purported to have been miraculously transported there) and it became a favorite site for pilgrimages.
The monastery also comprises the entire Orthodox Church of Mount Sinai, an autonomous (as distinct from autocephalous) Orthodox Christian church headed by an archbishop, who is also the abbot of the Monastery. The archbishop is traditionally consecrated by the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The Monastery is surrounded by massive fortifications that have preserved it. Until the 20th century, access was through a door high in the outer walls.
Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, Russia
Troitse-Sergieva Lavra is a famous Russian monastery and is the historical monumental symbol of Orthodoxy (at one period in time it was the center of the Russian Orthodox Church). Troitse-Sergieva Lavra is located northeast from Moscow in the center of Sergiev Posad, which was known as "Zagorsk" from 1930-1991. Initially it was Segiev Posad. It was founded in 1345 by venerable Sergii Radonezhski, who built a wood church in honor of the Holy Trinity in Makovets hill where the Lavra is located and he also built a small Monastery.
First there was set up community statute in the North of Russia. Thanks to Sergii Radonezhski and his high level authority as confessor, the Monastery was economically strong by the end of the 14th century. There were developed bookish (ink-horn term), iconography and decorative meters. In 1540-1550 the small Monastery turned into a powerful citadel that was rounded by high rock walls with towers and this allowed outlasting the Polish siege in 1608 - 1610. But in the 16th century very popular and honorable among the rest of monasteries in Moscow eparchy, the Posad got "lavra" status in 1744 (it was the second after Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra). By the middle of the 18th century it was the richest Russian monastery and since 1814 the place of Religious Academy. By the beginning of the 20th century Lavra had a big collection of manuscripts and books, sacristy that was unique by its collections.
After the October Revolution in 1917 the Soviet Committee closed Lavra in 1920. Lavra buildings were given to different civic institutes and often these building were used as residences. Thanks to saving some building as museums Florenski and his followers could prevent them from stealing and selling sacristy collection but overall many valuables were lost or transferred to other collections. Returned to Russian Orthodox Church in 1945 Lavra renewed as the monastery and the center of Religion education, there were also a lot of government structures of the Moscow Patriarchy. In 1960 - 1980 by conducting architect V.I. Baldin there were done some restoration works. However after 1983 the center of the Moscow Patriarchy moved to Danilov Monastery, the Lavra maintained its high level status as the most important center of religious education. The mMnastery is renowned for its choirs.
Kievan Monastery of the Caves, Ukraine
Kiev Pechersk Lavra or Monastery, also known as Kiev Monastery on the Caves, is an ancient underground, cave monastery in Kiev. It was founded in 1051 by monks Antoni and Feodosi and has become an important center of Orthodox Christianity in Kievan Rus'. The word pechera is cave in Slavic languages. The word lavra is used for monasteries of high rank in Eastern Orthodox Church. Currently the Kiev Pechersk Lavra also serves as a residence for Metropolitan Volodymyr, a head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The golden-domed Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra the Appanage (allotment) of the Most-Holy Theotokos, the cradle of the monasticism on Russian Land and the stronghold of Orthodoxy rises on the high hills of the River Dnieper right bank. The Pechersk Monastery enjoyed the great fame. Even some Russian princes came to the Lavra and stayed there forever. Moreover, some of them were glorified as well-known ascetics. In particular, in 1439 famous commander Prince Theodore of Ostrog took here monastic vows with the name Theodosius and donated to the monastery all his riches.
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Official site
Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
The Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. It is situated in the Rila Mountains in western Bulgaria, in a spectacular setting in the deep valley of the Rilski River.
His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex which subsequently played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Partly destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 - 1862, though retaining the older buildings which did survive the fire.
The monument is a characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th - 19th centuries) and symbolizes an awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation. The Rila Monastery is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.