The architectural complex of Yeletskiy Uspenskiy monastery is located on high right bank of the Desna river, between old Chernihiv Dytynets (the territory of modern Rampart) and Troitsko-Illinskiy (St. Trinity-St. Elijah) monastery
Together with the monuments of architecture, which were saved there, it forms the historic panorama of Chernihiv.
A widely known from many literary sources legend shows that the Uspenskiy monastery was founded as early as in the middle of the 11th century by prince Svyatoslav Yaroslavovych and it was connected with the advent of the icon of the Blessed Virgin on one of the fur-trees in that locality. The date of that event was the 3rd February, 1060 (according to the old calendar). According to that legend, “the father of Russian monkhood” Anthony Pecherskiy stayed in the monastery for some time.
There is no much annalistic information about a glorious monastery. Besides the information about the arrival of St. Anthony in Chernihiv and the foundation of cave Bogorodytskiy monastery on Boldini hills by him (1069), Yephrem – the hegumen of holly Bogorodytsya was mantioned in 1177.
In the middle of the 12th century a stone temple was built in an honour of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in the place, where the holly icon appeared. The architectural building was grandiose for that time.
Decorated with one massive dome, the cathedral was three nave, three apsidal twenty-five meters in height, it was visible not only from any end of the city but also from surrounding villages. Time spared the temple. It survived to this day and, as many centuries before, it rises above a picturesque back-water of the Desna river.
In 1239 the Mongol-Tatar took Chernihiv by assault. The city was burned out and robbed. Yeletskiy monastery did not avoid that fate. It stayed in desolation for a long time. The facts show that by the end of the 15th century Chernihiv had been in decline.
At the beginning of the 16th century Chernihiv fell under the power of Moscow. There is some information, that the old monastery was recommenced at that time, it was strengthened and Moscow monks were settled there. In 1611 Chernihiv was burned down by a voyevoda (Military chief) Gornostay. After that the monks went to Moscow. 7 years later the city fell under the power of Poland.
Damaged and left the Uspenskiy cathedral could not stand against the pressure of time. At first the side heads fell down, and then the central dome did.
After 1623 Yeletskiy monastery was repaired and given to Uniats. The most famous hegumen of the monastery at that time was Kyrylo Stavrovetskiy. In 1646 he produced the first printing book in Chernihiv “Pearl of Great Price”. Unfortunately, after this work his publishing activity halted.
In 1649 Chernihiv was exempted from Poland and soon Yeletskiy nunnery became Orthodox again. Among its hegumens one can meet a great amount of glorious names. They are a future archbishop Lazar Baranovych and Theodosius of Uhlych and his heir, archbishop Ioann Maksymovych – a famous founder of Chernihiv collegium, and many others.
I. Galyatovskiy worked a lot for the revival of the monastery. The Uspenskiy cathedral was reconstructed, stone monastic cells were built, refectory Petropavlivska church was erected. He created a remarkable library in the monastery. Speaking about hegumens of the Yeletskiy monastery, it is important to remember Danylo Tuptalo – a well-known religious and church figure. In orthodoxy he is more known as St. Dmytro Rostovskyi. In the 18th century Yeletskiy Uspenskiy monastery became a great landowner. But the decree of the empress Katherine II put an end to it.
In 1786 the serfs which were in its property were given to the treasury, - 1256 men and 1169 women, 7 bakeries, 8 pubs, distillery, 4 bath-houses, 9 mills, 4 ferry ferriages and a lot other property. The great construction stopped there since then. At the end of 1921 Yeletskiy monastery was closed, and only at the beginning of 90-s of the 20th century religious life recommenced in it. A nunnery was founded there.
Nowadays the architectural complex of Uspenskiy Yeletskiy monastery is completed by Uspenskiy cathedral of the 12th century, the bell tower over the gates of the 17th century, refectory Petropavlivska church and monastic cells of that period. A stone fence and a wooden housing cottage were built in 1688.
Like other monasteries, the monastery on Yeletskiy hill was a necropolis. In different periods of time on its territory the great prince Vsevolod Svyatoslavich Trubchevskiy, colonel Leontiy Artemovich Polubotok, general transport driver (oboznyi) Vasyl Dunin-Borkovskiy, governor Andrey Stepanovich Miloradovich, colonel Yakiv Lyzohub and other were buried. Inside the hill under the farmstead of the monastery the legendary large caves are hidden. The known legend binds their beginning to the name of St. Anthony Pecherskiy. And though in 1892 the researchers of Kievan church archaeological association proved the complete groundlessness of such assertions, this attractive legend continues to heat the imagination. Today the caves of Yeletskiy monastery present the complex of underground chambers and transitions which are situated on some stages. An underground gallery 70 meters long is added to them, it connects the Uspenskiy cathedral and Petropavlivska church.