Nikon (1605–81), patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, founded this monastery in 1652. It lies on roughly the same longitude as Jerusalem, and its main cathedral, Voskresensky Sobor (Resurrection Cathedral), is modeled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Nikon's objective in re-creating the original Jerusalem in Russia was to glorify the power of the Russian Orthodox Church and at the same time elevate his own position as its head. Nikon initiated
the great church reforms in the 17th century that eventually led to the raskol (schism) that launched the Old Believer sects of the Russian Orthodox faith. As a reformer he was progressive and enlightened, but his lust for power was his undoing. In 1658, before the monastery was even finished, the patriarch quarreled with Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, claiming that the Church was ultimately superior to the State. Nikon was ultimately defrocked and banished to faraway Ferapontov Monastery, in the Vologda region, some 400 km (246 miles) north of Moscow. He died in virtual exile in 1681, and was buried in the monastery that was supposed to have glorified his power. You can find his crypt in the Church of St. John the Baptist, which is actually inside the Resurrection Cathedral. Ironically, the same church commission that defrocked Patriarch Nikon later voted to institute his reforms. Far from the crowds, the captivating Russian countryside surrounding the monastery is a marvelous setting for walks and excursions.