Walks With Folks
Walks With Folks
Walks With Folks
Walks With Folks

Novodevichy Convent - Historically intact for over 300 years
Novodevichy Convent is one of the most interesting places on the outskirts of the city and it is also one of the best-preserved and most beautiful Moscow's monas­teries. It was founded in 1524 and the complex has not undergone significant changes since the 17th century, becoming the perfect example of the Moscow Baroque.
The Novodevichy Convent (or Monastery), or Novodevichy Convent Complex, is a complex of walled religious buildings that dates back to the early 16th century, and can't be missed on a tour of Moscow. It is located in the southwest of the capital, next to the Moskva River. Founded by the Grand Duke Vasiliy III and eventually integrated into the defense system of the city.

The ensemble consists of 14 buildings, including 8 cathedrals (a shrine, 4 churches, a belfry with the Barlaam and Josaphat church and two chapels) and a number of residential and service buildings. The monastery is sometimes called "the Moscow Kremlin in miniature". Its oldest building is a stone cathedral dedicated to the Icon of the Mother God of Smolensk built in 1524–1525 after the fashion of the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin.

The Convent is the only ancient nunnery which served as a fortress at the same time. In the 16th-18th centuries the nunnery was the chosen convent for women from the tsarist dynasty as well as the wealthy boyar and nobility families to take the veil. The Novodevichy Convent had close links to the Kremlin and is closely linked to the political, cultural and religious history of Russia, to major historic events and to important historic figures of the Russian state. These include Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov and the Time of Trouble of early 17th century, the father of Peter the Great, Alexey Michailovich as well as his daughter Princess Sofia Alekseevna and her struggle for power with the incoming Emperor Peter I, of which we will go into more detail.


In the mid-17th century, nuns from various Russian lands were transferred to the convent and the aged nuns, who renounced the Old Believers movement, were given shelter. A few years later the convent also housed a military hospital for the soldiers and officers of the Imperial Russian Army and an orphanage for female foundlings. Should be noted that the Russian government supported the monastery and each year providing 1,500 rubles, and 1,300 quarters of bread, with 680 rubles and 480 quarters of bread for more than 250 abandoned children.

A truly remarkable story happened In 1812, Napoleon's army tried to blow up the convent, but the nuns managed to save the cloister from destruction. In Tolstoy's War and Peace, Pierre was to be executed under the convent walls. In another novel of his, Anna Karenina, Konstantin Lyovin (a main character) meets his future wife Kitty ice-skating near the monastery walls.

In 1871, the Filatyev brothers donated money for a shelter-school for the orphans of "ignoble origins". Also, the convent housed two almshouses for nuns and lay sisters. In early 1900s, the Cathedral was surveyed and restored by architect and preservationist Ivan Mashkov.
After the Revolution of 1917, the Convent was closed and the nuns evicted to make room for the Museum of Women's Emancipation. The Convent was later reopened as a museum and became the official residence of Metropolitan Kruitsky and Kolomensky of the Orthodox Church. The complex of Novodevichy Convent is now open for visitors.

Next to it is the Novodevichy Cemetery, the most famous in Moscow, whose visit is even more interesting than that of the convent, since famous figures of Russian history are buried there, and tombs and mausoleums are authentic works of art.
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