Novodevichyi Convent, Moscow
It has been founded during 1524 and here used to retire high society women, some willing, some not.
The most important building of the monastery is the Smolensk cathedral, built copying the style of assumption cathedral in kremlin.
Other sites worth a visit in the monastery are: the bell tower the Assunption church and Ambrosievskaya tserkov.
To reach the monastery you can take the red metro line, direction Yugo Zapapadnaya, and stop at Sportivnaya station, from here you should walk 500 meters, just look for the towers and follow the direction.
Novodevichy Monastyr opened since wensday to Monday from 10 am to 5 pm.
The Novodivechy Convent (which means "New Maidens Convent", which is an UNESCO World Heritage site, and was founded in 1524, is reachable by metro. Take the RED line to Sportivnaya Station. The convent is located a couple of blocks away from the station.
The convent has an interesting history, both religious and military, and it also features in some Russian literature.
The Convent is fortified, and it was established by a royal family in commemoration of a military victory.
Napoleon and the French also went there, and they tried to destroy the Convent. The convent was subject to bitter battle not only between the French and Russians, but earlier, it was subjected to battle between different members of Russian Tsarist families.
In ancient Russia, victories were not so celebrated with monuments, but with the building of churches or places of religious observance. Such places were quite powerful.
Of course under communism, religion was outlawed and the religious were persecuted. Followers followed in secret. Many churches were destroyed under communist rule. And those that were not destroyed were converted to museums or storage facilities, or abandoned altogether.
Churches are now open as churches for worshippers, and churches seem to be flourishing.
This website, http://moscow.ru/en/guide/entertainment/attractions/monasteries_cathedrals_and_churches/index.php?id4=55 has some interesting history:-
"It was a votive convent built in the early 16th century by Prince Vasily III of Moscow to commemorate the return of Smolensk to Russia from Polish-Lithuanian rule (hence its second name, Bogoroditse-Smolensky, or of the Mother of God of Smolensk, Convent). It was consecrated to the wonder-working icon of the Mother of God of Smolensk.
Legend has it that the name of Devichye Pole (Maiden Field) harks back to the time of the Tatar-Mongol raids, as it served as the place where the most beautiful girls were selected to be sent to the Horde. The convent`s name (Novodevichy, or New Maidens`), however, is believed to have been given as a distinction from the Starodevichy (Old Maidens`) Convent in the Kremlin.
The convent was a privileged and rich Moscow cloister from the outset. It was here that the noblest ladies of the time, from tsars` or boyars` families, took the veil, contributing their jewels, while the rulers favoured the convent and granted it land plots.
The widow of Prince Yury, the brother of Ivan the Terrible, was the first descendant of the tsar`s family to enter the convent as a nun. Regent Sophia, the half-sister of Peter I, was forced to take the vows after the suppressed Streltsy uprising. Rebel streltsy (guards) were executed in front of the windows of her cell, and Peter I ordered their severed heads to be placed on spikes on battlements along the convent`s walls. Eudoxia Lopukhina, Peter I`s first wife and the mother of Tsarevich Alexei, was transferred to the convent from Suzdal shortly before she died."
During Soviet times, its function as a convent ceased.
There is also a cemetery on the grounds of the convent.
In 1994, it resumed its function as a convent.
The first time that I visited the Novodevichi Monastir (Nuns Convent) was in the year 1981, in USSR times, together with a group of Spanish tourists, because individual travel in Soviet Union was forbidden. In the touristic program was included a visit to the monastery and what I remember most was the fine collection of icons.
I had the opportunity to visit that convent again in the year 1995, when USSR did not exist anymore, while waiting in Moscow my train to Vladivostok. This time I was alone, without Spanish tourists and without compulsory Russian guide. I paid more attention to the frescoes and to the stunning architecture itself. But returning to the Icon collection I was again admired by the beauty and perfection of them.
In its cemetery are buried important personages of the Russian history, as well as the writers Gogol and Anton Chekhov.
This is one of the most beautiful convents in Moscow and its was founded in the early 16th century. Its main cathedral was consecrated in honour of the Smolenskaya Icon of the Mother of God Hodigitria. According to legend, the icon was painted by St. Luke himself, and it is closely linked with the convent's foundation.
This was the richest convent in Moscow. Its full name was formerly New Maiden Convent of the Immaculate Holy Virgin, Hodigitria to distinguish it from the Kremlin Ascension or Old Maiden Convent. Noblewomen of the time became novitiates in this convent, just as in the Old Maiden Convent - wives and widows of tsars and boyars, their daughters and sisters - and on taking the veil they handed over their jewels, pearls, gold and silver.
Sofia, half sister to Peter the Great took particular concern over the convent. Under her direction the wonderful bell-tower in the style of Moscow, or Naryshinsky, baroque was built. It was 72 metres high (232 feet), which at that time was the highest bell-tower in Moscow after the Ivan the Great tower.
Part of UNESCO Heritage, the Novodevichi convent was founded by Basil III in 1524, then completed by regent Sophia, half-sister of Peter the Great. She was then confined by him there after he deposed her from the throne.
Great example of the fortified monasteries, that encircled Moscow and protected its approaches. (For more detailed information about the monasteries, please consult the Novospasski travelogue).
Inside the compound, you will find the Cathedral of the Virgin of Smolensk (the first building built in 1524 to commemorate the capture of Smolensk), the baroque bell-tower, the gate-towers and several museums containing either history information or icons. Adjoined is the cemetery where many famous russians are buried. And there is a lovely walk to be made around the pond just outside, with nice views of the monastery.
The entry of the compound is free, you pay for the ticket for the museums and a photography permit.
The Novodevichyi convent is located close to the Moscow river to the South West of the city centre - easily accessible by metro (take the red line in the direction of Yugo-Zapadnaya as far as Sportivnaya). Entry to the complex costs 150 roubles for tourists - and to be allowed to photograph in the museums it costs another 60 roubles. This includes entry to all buildings and museums. It should be noted that the Smolensky Cathedral is only open in the summer (until the end of September).
This is a place of serenity. Both the Convent and the Graveyard are quiet, serene, and very peacefull. There is still a lot of restoration going on at the convent, (the Cathedral is currently closed, and the upper parts of Sofia's tower is being restored for example.)
In 1524 in honor of the liberation of the ancient Russian city of Smolensk from the power of Catholic Lithuania, Great Prince Vassily of Moscow (father of Ivan the Great) founded the convent. Manu people supported the convent including Sophia. (Sophia was acting regent when the 2 young princes were on the throne.) Sophia donated large amounts to the convent and the nuns loved her. But the irony of it was, she was building her own prison. When after trying many times to have accidents happen to the princes, she lost it and ordered their murder, but instead got herself incaserated here in what was virtually a noble womens prison. The reason for this is, Back in those days when a Czar or nobleman got tired of his wife, he could not just divorce her, so she got murdered. The Patrich of the church got a little fed up with this and found a loophole. When a women entered the convent in russia then, on taking her religious name, as a secular person she was declared dead. Therefore the husband became a widower. So guess ho many unwanted wives ended up in convents.
Ironically, the english translation for the Convent Name is New Maidens Convent.
When I was there there were 2 exhibitions taking place, in the Irina suite and the Sophia suite. Both well worth seing as the artifats are breathtaking.
The Convent has been listed as a UNESCO Heritage listing.
Behind turreted walls on the Moscow River is a cluster of sparkling domes forming the Novodevichy Convent. It was founded in 1524 to celebrate the taking of Smolensk from Lithuania.
The red and white Moscow-baroque style Transfiguration Gate Church with 5 golden domes is the main building in the convent complex. The Smolensk Cathedral is modelled after the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin.
Adjacent to the convent is the Novodevichy Cemetery, being the final resting place of famous personalities in Russian politics and culture eg. Prokofiev, Nadezhda Stalin, Raisa Gorbachev among others.
Juat next to the Novodevichy Monastyr, there is the Novodevichy cimiter, which is the most important after the kremlin one.
Here infact rest many important personalities considered not important enough to be buried in Kremlin, some names are: Cechov, Gogol, Stanivslaskij, Raisa Gorbaciova and Mikhail Bulgakov.
The cimitery is opened every day since 9am to 6 pm.
One more very interesting Monastery that has great history and wonderful architecture. The Novodevichy (New Maidens) Convent, the pre-eminent monastery-convent in Moscow throughout its history, was founded in 1524 in honor of the return of Smolensk to Russia in 1514.
The Cathedral, named after the icon of the Virgin of Smolensk, was erected in 1525. In form it is very similar to the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin. However, the proportions are slightly different: the full-blown cupolas are closer together and their general appearance is more slender. The most noticeable difference is in the use of a sub-basement or undercroft, a device used in wooden churches and in the Annunciation Cathedral in the Kremlin. This device became widespread in Moscow in the 16th century.
Inside the Smolensk Cathedral is a gilded iconostasis by Mikhailov dating from the late 17th century. In the cemetery attached to the Novodevichy Convent, one of the most prestigious in Moscow, lie all the leading writers and artists of the 19th century. It was at the Novodevichy Convent that Boris Godunov sought to retire, and from the steps of Smolensk Cathedral that the people and his agents persuaded him to accept the throne of Russia.
Exposition: architecture, art, history, orthodoxy .
Comments to prices: free of charge.
Working hours: Tuesday is off. Other days from 10.00 a.m. till 17.00 p.m.
The cemetery can be found right behind the convent, there is a separate entrance. Although the guidebooks said you needed to buy a ticket at a kiosk across the road we found that just walking straight through the open and unmanned gate seemed to work.
Although it may seem a bit macabre, this was a fascinating place to visit. Many of the graves were large and ornate often including engraved depictions or busts of the individual. Nikita Kruschev was buried here - the only Soviet premier not resting under the Kremlin walls.
Smolensky Cathedral, is the main building inside the Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery complex. It was built in 1525 in the same style as the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Cremlin, and it has 5 onion-shaped domes - 4 silver and 1 gold.
The walls of the cathedral are covered in beautiful sixteenth century frescoes representing historic episodes in the struggle for the formation of a centralized Russian state. They were mainly painted during the reign of Boris Gudunov.
Novodevichy Convent is the richest of all Moscow's monasteries, and possibly the most attractive, too. In the past monasteries served as retirement homes for royal and noble women - a retirement that was often forced.
Novodevichy (New Maidens Convent) was founded by Vasily III in 1524 to commemorate the recapture of Smolensk from the Lithuanians in 1514: for this reason the convent's main cathedral is called Smolenskaya.
Many well-known people are buried within the convent's area - one of them is Raissa Gorbachova, wife of former president Michail Gorbachov.
Walk through the gateway in the high walls that surround the Novodevichy Convent and you enter another world. From the middle of the 16th Century this place was the retreat (and the prison) of Russian noblewomen. Some entered the convent willingly, others were sent here - notably Sofia, the sister of Peter the Great whose withdrawal to the convent after her brother ended her regency was decidedly less than willing. (There are a couple of very dramatic paintings in the Tretyakov Gallery that portray these events). Presumabaly the nuns living there now, who have returned to the convent with the changes in Russia since the end if Communism, are there willingly.
Once inside there are beautiful churches, interesting exhibits in the museums that occupy some of the old living quarters of the convent and the lovely gardens to walk around. It isn't hard to imagine the past here.
The list of names of those buried in the cemetery beside the Novodevichy Convent reads like a Who's Who of Russian History. After the Kremlin wall, this is the most prestigious burial ground in Moscow. Writers, artists, composers, musicians, dancers, political leaders (and their wives) are all here. So too are ordinary Russians and there are usually a few people quietly attending to family graves as well as those who have come to pay homage at one of the more notable ones.