*This is shamelessly stolen from Kristen's blog at: http://moskovskiemelochi.blogspot.com/
Sergiev Posad is a significant historical site about 43 miles northeast of Moscow. It began as the location of the Trinity Monastery, which was founded by Sergei of Radonezh in the 1340s, and soon grew into a major pilgrimage site and a sizable settlement (the posad) the populace of which provided goods and services to the monks. Sergei of Radonezh was canonized in 1422 (he died in 1392) and declared a â€œdefender of the Russian land and an intercessor before God.â€ The cathedral built over his grave, Trinity Cathedral (1422-1423), became a significant focus of pilgrimage for Muscovyâ€™s princes and Russiaâ€™s tsars. At this time, the name of the monastery was changed to Trinityâ€“St. Sergius Monastery. The monastery received the title of lavra in 1744, which is a special designation indicating a complex of hermitages that function as a major (male) monastic community. There are only three other lavras in Russia, a country that had over 1000 monasteries before 1917. In the 1920s the lavra was shut down and the monks sent into exile or executed. After WWII, the complex was turned into a museum. In 1991 the complex was returned to the Russian Orthodox church. It has returned to being a functioning monastery, but it remains a museum complex as well. The monastery was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1993.