Text and photographs by William Brumfield 

The town of Zvenigorod, some 19 miles due west of Moscow, is one of the area’s most picturesque areas. In summer or winter, its location on high bluffs overlooking the winding Moscow River provides rare vistas of an untouched landscape. And at the center of this hilly terrain is the St. Savva-Storozhevsky Monastery.

Although the earliest written reference to Zvenigorod does not occur until 1339, it is possible that a settlement existed there as early as the reign of Yury Dolgoruky (1090s-1157), who is considered Moscow’s founding prince.

Indeed, the site provided a clear view against any approach from the west. Its name derives from the words for fortified point (gorod) and “to ring,” as in an alarm bell.

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