Novodevichy Convent

The Moscow Bogoroditse-Smolensky Novodevichy Stauropegial Convent is an Orthodox convent in Moscow on the Maiden’s Field at the bend of the Moskva River, near Luzhniki stadium, at the very end of the historic Prechistenka (currently Bolshaya Pirogovskaya streets).

Founded by Grand Duke Vasily III on May 13, 1524 in honor of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God “Odigitria” – the main shrine of Smolensk, in gratitude for the capture of Smolensk in 1514. For the first two centuries of its existence, it served as a place of confinement for female royalty.

The architectural ensemble of the monastery, formed in the 16th-17th centuries, has not undergone significant changes since then. As an exceptional sample of the Moscow baroque, it was placed under the protection of UNESCO and declared the property of all mankind.

The current monastery is jointly administered by the Russian Orthodox Church and the State Historical Museum. Since 2010, the church museum of the Moscow diocese has been operating here.

Until 2021, the monastery was the residence of the Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna.

Architecture

The center of the monastery is the monumental, five-domed (originally, apparently, nine-domed, with four aisles at the corners, like the Annunciation Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin) Smolensk Cathedral, in the interior of which fresco paintings of the 16th century have been preserved. The cathedral was built on the model of the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin.

At the end of the 17th century, during the reign of Princess Sophia, a centric architectural ensemble was created around the Smolensky Cathedral, in which the cathedral turned out to be the center of the intersection of two main axes. The north-south axis is formed by two gate churches, and the west-east axis is formed by the bell tower and the refectory. According to a document from the second half of the 18th century, the author of this ensemble and the creator of most of the buildings of the monastery is the architect Pyotr Potapov, the creator of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Pokrovka, which is close in stylistic features to the buildings of Novodevichy.

A six-tier bell tower in the Naryshkin style, 72 m high (end of the 17th century), with alternating openwork and “deaf” tiers, at that time the highest bell tower in Moscow after Ivan the Great. There is an opinion (confirmed by the analysis of proportions) that the bell tower should have been seven-tiered – but was not completed.

Fortress walls with towers were first erected under Boris Godunov, but at the end of the 17th century they were completely rebuilt, and the towers received openwork completions.

In August 2020, scientists from the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences discovered on the territory of the monastery the remains of the foundations of a tower and a wall built during the reign of Boris Godunov. Stone walls are separated from the line of modern walls by about 15-20 m – therefore, the monastery was about 2⁄5 less and occupied an area of ​​​​about 3 hectares.

Necropolis

The territory of the Moscow Novodevichy Convent, at least from the beginning of the 19th century, served as a burial place not only for the nuns, but also for representatives of prominent noble families, and later for Moscow professors.

By the beginning of the 20th century, on the territory enclosed by the monastery walls, there were 2811 tombstones of representatives of various classes. Due to the overcrowding of the monastery necropolis to the south of the monastery, a new Novodevichy cemetery was built in 1898, which eventually became the necropolis of the Soviet elite.

During the mass destruction of Moscow monastery necropolises in the 1930s, the vast majority of monuments were destroyed. Approximately 1/20 of the noble necropolis (about a hundred tombstones) has survived to our time.

During the “reconstruction”, the graves of mainly major figures of pre-revolutionary culture, the Decembrists and members of their families were mostly spared. At the same time, the crosses from most of the tombstones were knocked down.

Working days

Daily entrance to the territory from 9:00 to 17:00.

Museums are open from 10:00 to 17:00.

The first Monday of the month is a sanitary day.

Tuesday is a day off.

Prices

For adults – 300 rubles.

For schoolchildren, students and pensioners of the Russian Federation – 100 rubles.

Entrance to the territory of the monastery is free.

How to get to?

Nearest metro: Sportivnaya metro station, Luzhniki station of the MCC, cable car on Sparrow Hills (2 km).

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