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Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery
Near Luzhniki Sports Stadium

Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery directions
The red and white crenellated walls and golden domes of Novodevichy Convent make it one of Moscow's most attractive monasteries. Situated a short walk from the Luzhniki Sports Stadium, in a tranquil southern suburb of Moscow, inside a bend in the Moscow River, the Convent's leafy gardens are a pleasure to stroll in during the summer months and a welcome retreat from the bustle of the city. Most of the capital's monasteries were built between the 13th and 16th centuries, not merely as religious centers but as fortified structures with the express purpose of defending the city from Tatar and Pole attacks.

Novodevichy, or "New Maidens Convent" in English, was founded by Vasily III in 1524 to commemorate the recapture of Smolensk from the Lithuanians in 1514. The convent's main cathedral was consecrated in honor of the Smolenskaya Icon of the Mother of God Hodigitria, which according to legend was painted by St. Luke himself. The icon was brought to Rus from Greece in 1046 by Tsarina Anna Monomakh and was later taken to Smolensk and Moscow before it was returned to Smolensk in a ceremony held on the present-day site of the monastery.

The convent is rather like a miniature Kremlin and the magnificent 5-domed Smolensky Cathedral was built in 1525 in the same style as the Kremlin Cathedral of the Assumption, probably by the Italian architect Aleviz Fryazin. In the early 17th century, during the reign of Boris Godunov, the walls of the cathedral were ornamented with frescoes representing historic episodes in the struggle for the formation of a centralized Russian state. In the 1680s a team of Russian artists and craftsmen, including K. Mikhailov and O. Andreyev, created one of the finest ornamental works of the period - a multi-tiered iconostasis, carved from solid gold.

The floor of the cathedral was made of ornamental cast-iron plates. The other structures in the convent complex- the refectory, the gateway churches, the Irminskiye and Lopukhinskiye Chambers, and the cells were also built in the 1680s. The convent's bell tower, similar to the famous Bell Tower of Ivan the Great in the Kremlin, was erected between 1689 and 1690, and consists of six octagonal stepped tiers crowned with a gilt cupola.

Novodevichy was Moscow's richest convent and many wives and widows of tsars and boyars and their daughters and sisters entered the convent and in doing so handed over all their jewels, pearls, gold and silver.

In 1898, the so-called New Cemetery was established behind the south wall of the convent and rapidly became the most venerated cemetery in Moscow. Here lie the bodies of some of Russia's most outstanding writers and poets. Chekhov was one of the first to be buried in the cemetery in 1904 and Gogol's remains were re-interred here from Danilov Monastery not long after.

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Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery

Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery

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