Vologda Region Department of Culture, Tourism and Cultural Heritage Preservation

Monuments of History
and Culture

Historical cities
 and settlements

The Management on restoration and exploitation of Monuments of history and culture in Vologda Oblast


Spaso-Kamenny monastery is considered to be one of the most ancient in the Russian European north. By the legend the Belozersk prince Gleb Vasilkovich shipped along the river from the White Sea to the Kubena Lake. On the way the travelers were caught by a big storm. Only a prayer could console at this hard moment and Gleb Vasilkovich promised to build a monastery on the place where they would be saved. The ship was cast up on the shore of the Kamenny Island where 23 monks lived in dugout. The rescue happened on August 19, 1260 on the Day of Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. The prince ordered to build a wooden church in the honor of Transfiguration and cells for the monks. That was the start for foundation of Spaso-Kamenny monastery. A monastery of vow is an important phenomenon as the tradition of keeping a vow is not just keeping the word but a big spiritual movement ahead. Spaso-Kamenny became the fist missionary center where a new civilization and a new orthodox culture came here from the north and put the foundation of the Russian state.

Spaso-Kamenny monastery differed from others by a hard life and strict compliance to the orthodox traditions. Spaso-Kamenny monastery became a spiritual school for many ascetics. It was the biggest economic centre of the area; it possessed two town churches in Vologda and saltworks in Totma. The significance of the cloister is underlined by the fact that since XVI century Archimandrite (superior of a large monastery in Orthodox Church) replaced Father Superior.

The first stone church was erected on the island in 1481 on means of Vologda prince Andrei Menshov. White stones for decoration of the church were brought from Tver, bricks were hand-made.

Gradually a monastery architectural ensemble was formed on the island including St.Transfiguration church, Assumption refectory church, a belfry, church of John the Baptist and a monastery hotel.

After the revolution the monastery was closed. It happened on June 27, 1925 that is considered to be the latest time many monasteries and churches till that time were already reequipped for different institutions while in the monastery there were still divine services, 5 monks and novices lived. A prison of juvenile delinquents was founded in the monastery. On September 2, 1925 a fire happened and in the middle of the 30-s the monastery was blew up. Only the belfry was left that was used as a lighthouse. In 1950-s there was a fish-processing point and since the 60-s the remains of the monastery buildings fell in decay.

In the 90-s of the last century the idea of the monastery revival came to Alexander Asafov and Alexander Pligin. They decided by joint efforts to restore the monastery. They made the draft for restoration and Alexander Pligin managed the works by personal initiative free of charge. Later he stayed on the island for living. Gradually a spiritual revival of the cloister started. In 1998 with Bishop of Vologda and Veliki Ustyug Maximilian blessing a chapel was built on the island.

To the 750th anniversary of the monastery on August 18, 2010 a Refectory church in honor of Assumption of Virgin Mary was restored and sanctified.