The term Lavra is a name given to large, rich monasteries of importance that enjoy special privileges and are cultural centers in the regions they occupy.
Among the noted lavras is the Monastery of the Great Lavra on the Athos Peninsula. This monastery which was founded by the monk St. Athanasius the Athonite in 963, is the earliest and the mother monastery of the Mount Athos communities.
In the Slavic world there are three lavras of particular note:
- Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. in Kiev, Ukraine. This monastery, often called the Monastery of the Caves, was founded in 1051 by Anthony of the Caves and Theodosius
- Trinity Lavra of St Sergius at Sergiyev Posad, Russia. This monastery was founded in 1345 by Sergius of Radonezh, the most venerated of Russian saints. Czarina Elizabeth elevated the monastery to the dignity of a Lavra in 1744.
- Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St Petersburg, Russia. This lavra was founded as a monastery in 1710 and was not finished until 1790. The monastery was elevated to the status of a Lavra until 1797.