Kirillov city – a center of Kirillov municipality of Vologda Oblast – is situated on the banks of the Siverskoye and Dolgoye Lakes, 129 km off Vologda. Population – 7 515 people.
In 1397 Moscow monk Kirill founded the Kirillo-Belozerskiy monastery by the Siverskoye Lake. In 1447 Grand Duke of Moscow Vassily the Dark visited the monastery. In 1528 Vassily III with his wife Elena Glinskaya prayed here for granting them a heir – future Ivan IV. Ivan the Terrible visited Kirillov 3 times, donated a big sum of money to the monastery and at the end of his life took monastic vows in Kirillo-Belozerskiy monastery.
Kirillo-Belozerskiy monastery was the largest fortress in the North-West of the Russian state. The fortification walls erected in XVI-XVII centuries surrounded the area of 12 hectares where 11 big and small churches were built. Till nowadays a monastery library with about 14 thousand volumes of books and an iconostasis of the Assumption cathedral – an outstanding monument of Russian ancient icon painting done after the cathedral had been built – is still preserved. The stock of the Kirillo-Belozerskiy monastery consists of a collection of icons, the earliest of which is the icon of the Assumption of the beginning of the XV century. During its history the monastery besides its direct predestination acted as an outpost and a place of exile.
A settlement was founded by the monastery which since 1770 received a status of a city. The district city Kirillov of Novgorod province got its name due to the name of the monastery.
By 1770-s there were 335 houses in the city. In 1785 three smithies and 4 mills, 3 salt and 2 wine shops and 4 public houses were built. Among the residents there were 67 craftsmen and 33 merchants. The opening of the Northern Dvina waterway in 1828 promoted economic development of the city that gave the ships a possibility to come from the Onega Lake and the Volga River to Arkhangelsk.
In 1924 the monastery was closed. A museum was founded on its territory. Now Kirillo-Belozerskiy museum-reserve of history, architecture and art includes the architectural ensembles of Kirillo-Belozerskiy and Ferapontov monasteries, a church of the Elijah the Prophet.
For more than 140 years Kirillov city has been developing as an administrative, economic and cultural center. In 1937 it became a district center of Vologda Oblast.
In 1960-s monuments of history and culture located on the territory of the city began restored. Today Kirillov together with Veliki Ustyug city is the biggest tourist center of Vologda oblast.
At the end of 2000 the architectural ensemble of Ferapontov monastery including the Church of Nativity with its unique frescos by Dionysius was included in the UNESCO List of Monuments of World Heritage.
Kirillov is among cities with especially valuable historical heritage. There are 28 objects of cultural heritage.