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Danilov Monastery


Danilov Monastery directions
The Danilov Monastery purports to be the oldest in Moscow and was founded in 1282 by Prince Daniil Moskovsky, the youngest Son of Alexander Nevsky. Daniil was the first Grand Prince of the new Muscovite Rus and was buried here in the monastery in 1303 and later canonized. Like the city's other monasteries (Novodevichy, Donskoy, Simonov, Novospassky and Andronikov), which were all built between the 13th and 16th centuries, Danilov was not merely a center of religious and spiritual life and a seat of scholarly learning, but a powerful defensive fortress whose walls defended Moscow from attacks by enemy Tartars, Lithuanians and Poles.

Moscow's six major monasteries were all protected by thick, high walls and towers that together formed a defensive half-ring around the city. In 1591 Danilov Monastery played a crucial part in defending the capital of Rus from raids by the Crimean Tartars led by Khan Kazy Girei. In December 1606, the monastery was again the site of a major battle, when the Russian peasant army led by Ivan Bolotnikov fought valiantly but unvictoriously against the troops of Tsar Vasily Shuisky.

The monastery was home not only to monks, but the refuge of many laymen, including the writer Gogol, the musician Rubinshtein and the philosophers Samarin and Khomyakov, founders of the 19th century Slavophile movement, all of whom were buried in the monastery's cemetery.

After 1917 the monastery was one of the last to be closed down and became the refuge of many priests who had been evicted by the Bolsheviks from their own churches and who disagreed with the ethics of the new regime. They became known as "Danilovtsy". In 1930 the monastery was closed and many of its oldest relics and icons disappeared and have never been recovered. In 1931 a statue of Lenin was erected in the central courtyard of the monastery and the buildings were converted into a juvenile reform center. In May of that year the remains of Gogol, Rubinshtein, the Khomyakovs and the poet Nikolai Yazykov, were exhumed from their graves and reburied in Novodevichy Cemetery, and the churchyard destroyed to make room for the construction of new buildings to house the inmates of the reformatory. Most of the inmates of the institution were children whose parents had been arrested or shot during Stalin's purges of the 1930s.

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Danilov Monastery

Danilov Monastery

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