Anthony Monastery is one of the most picturesque places in Novgorod. There is a legend that it was founded in 1106 by Anthony the Roman. The legend is a classic for the genre of monastic legends, however, the story carries with its beauty. According to legend, Anthony was born in Rome in 1067. Was from a rich family. At age 18, he became a monk, and his wealth — gold and silver — was folded into a barrel and thrown into the sea. After 20 years, he retired to the rock, praying for the salvation of Orthodoxy. Once a terrible storm arose and the stone on which Anthony prayed, carried across the sea like a boat. Two days later, on the feast day of the Nativity of the Virgin, he ended up in Novgorod. The place where the waves brought him and became a monastery. A few years later, the fishermen fished out a barrel. The money in it was enough to build a stone church and purchase land.
Indeed, the chronicle under the year 1117 reports the laying of the stone Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin (this is the first solid date in the history of the monastery). According to the plan and the overall solution, it is typical for its time: four-column, with a narthex, a staircase tower, a three-headed completion. But instead of heavy cross pillars T-shaped and octahedral are used, which is very significant for the interior of a small temple; the stair tower is round, not rectangular, the choir is wooden, not stone. All together gives the temple originality.
The monumental paintings, which appeared in 1125, three years after the completion of construction, represent the most significant in terms of volume and peculiar in style the ensemble of Novgorod frescoes of the XII century. The scene of the Annunciation and the half-figures of the four healers, Frol, Laurus, Cyrus and John, located on the western edges of the eastern pair make the strongest impression. All images are made in large size, consistent with the architectural divisions. Color is built on a combination of pure open colors.
The painting of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary is still controversial: some scholars see in it a significant influence of the Romanesque style, and most include them among the monuments of the Byzantine tradition, which forms its own particular artistic style. The real history of the monastery is typical of the Middle Ages: it burned and rebuilt, in 1570, the abbot Gelasii and all the monks fell under the oprichnina’s sword, and in 1611 the Swedes destroyed it.
Now the monastery complex includes, in addition to the Nativity Cathedral with its late additions, the monastery wall with travel arches, the Rector of the Priory and Treasury (XVII - XIX centuries), the Church of the Presentation with the refectory (XVI century).
Currently, the monastery buildings are part of the Novgorod Museum-Reserve. A number of faculties of Novgorod State University named after Yaroslav the Wise (former Pedagogical Institute, which became part of the university) are located on the territory of the monastery.