Four kilometers from modern-day Bryansk, on the high right bank of the River Desna on the opposite side of the mouth of the River Sven» stands the Svensky Monastery of the Holy Assumption — one of the most ancient and famous monasteries in Russia. The Svensky Monastery was founded in Bryansk in 1288 by Bryansk Prince Roman Mikhailovich in the name of the icon of The Holy Mother of God, which had cured him from blindness.
The first cathedral built by Prince Roman Mikhailovich existed until the middle of the 16th century. The Svensky Monastery was among the richest in Russia. Generous donations and deposits were made by families of old princes — the Trubetskiys, Vorotynskiys, and Mstislavskiys. Donations included valuable, antique armor and weaponry. The monastery served as a fortress in the ever-restless Southern Russia. Ivan the Terrible supported it in many ways, giving the monastery large donations and sending all manner of supplies.
In 1567 Ivan the Terrible ordered the building of two new stone churches. In 1578 the construction of one of the two was finished but its dome collapsed suddenly, presumably because of landslides. In 1681 both of the monastery's churches were in a state of serious disrepair. In the 18th century both churches were demolished and the iconostasis of one was moved to the Assumption Cathedral's side chapel. It was destroyed during the Soviet period.
There were three churches in the monastery at the beginning of the 20th century. During the Soviet period the monastery's buildings were badly damaged. Many of them, including the main cathedral, were destroyed. The thick defensive walls with towers, two gate churches ,and some other buildings have remained intact. The Svensky monastery is currently undergoing major renovations.
The history of the Svenskaya Fair, held by the monastery walls for many centuries, is closely associated with the monastery. In the 16th-18th centuries the Svenskaya Fair was among the major events of its kind in the country. The fair's revival began shortly before the thousandth anniversary of Bryansk in 1985. Industrial and agricultural enterprises of Bryansk Oblast, other regions of Russia as well as those from Bealrus and Ukraine use the fair every year to display their products and achievements.
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