Raifa... Secured by God... This is how the name of one of the most revered holy places of Tatarstan is translated. The primeval stillness, the inimitable atmosphere of peace and quiet – this is the impression the Raifsky Bogoroditskiy (Raifa Holy Virgin) monastery usually makes on visitors.
Raifa is visited by people from all over the world who come here to breathe in the crystal air of this inspiring place and to see the magnificent architecture with their own eyes. The monastery is the only church complex in Tatarstan to be completely constructed in the Baroque style. It has three cathedrals. The first one is the Georgian Mother of God icon Cathedral, which bears the main treasure of the monastery, the ancient miracle-working replica of this relic which is known to have healed many a sick person. Another is the Cathedral consecrated in honor of revered fathers who had been killed in Raifa and Sinai. And finally, there is the Trinity cathedral. The Sofiyskaya (Sophia) church, built in the late 18th century, is the smallest church in Europe: its main part holds room for only 7 people.
The reflections of the beautiful white-stone churches can be seen in the clear and quiet water of the nearby lake. The congregation’s prayer is never even interrupted by frogs: a legend has it that the founder of the monastery made an agreement with the green amphibians, asking them to keep silence so that they don’t distract him from thinking and talking to God. They obeyed him and never let out a single sound since...
An interesting development of the last few years is a sun-dial on the flowerbed in front of the Dom Palomnika (Pilgrim’s House) monastery inn and a small blue-domed chapel above the sacred spring with healing water. The properties of this wonder-water were researched in 1997, and the study showed that Raifa water contains valuable mineral substances including silver. It is significant that the chapel above this sacred spring was consecrated by the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexy II himself, during his visit to Raifa in September of 1997.
The Raifa monastery is visited by thousands of parishioners during the great holidays of Christmas and Epiphany. In these winter days the surface of the lake gets decorated with magnificent churches made of ice, and believers from all over the country try to see that miracle at all costs.
Today this beautiful place is a part of the Volga-Kama state natural preserve. In its dendrological garden you can find over 400 types of exotic plants from North America, Asia and Europe.
The history of Raifa Holy Virgin monastery is associated with a monk called Filaret who arrived in Kazan from Moscow in 1613 and settled in this quiet and solitary place. This land of blessed nature was chosen for peace of mind and concentrated prayers for a good reason. Everything here was dear to Filaret…
In the post-revolutionary times of persecution against religion the monastery was used as a restricted area for prison convicts, but it retained almost all of its churches and buildings, and the church service here was restored in the late 20th century. After the return of the church functions in 1989 the monastery’s new history began: the churches were repainted and consecrated, the monastery buildings were renovated and repaired, all the glorious traditions that the monastery used to have in the pre-revolutionary period were restored.
By bus: Kazan – Kulbashi, Kazan – Urazly from TsUM square