Novodevichy Convent (Moscow)

Novodevichy Convent (Moscow)

 

Novodevichiy proezd 1

Tel. (495) 246 8526

Subway: Sportivnaya

Open: 10am- 5pm Wed- Mon

Service: 8am, 5pm Mon- Sat, 7am, 10am Sun

Cemetery: Open: 10am- 6pm daily

 

Description of the Novodevichy Convent

Novodevichy Convent is a medieval Russian Orthodox monastery that was found in 1524 by Moscow prince Vasili III to commemorate his conquest of formerly independent Smolensk principality. Thus another alternative name for the monastery is Bogoroditse (Mother of God)- Somelnsky (of Smolensk) Monastery. At the time of its construction it stood outside of Moscow city limits. Its walls part of the defences of the Russian capital. In fact parts of the original moat have been preserved and today serves as a picturesque pond.

 

History of the Novodevichy monastery

Muscovite period
Vasily III, Grand Duke of Moscow, founded the Novodevichy monastery in 1524 to commemorate his conquest of Smolensk in 1514. The monastery began its history as a fortress on a crooked bend of the Moskva river three versts southwest of the Moscow Kremlin. It became an important part of the southern defensive belt of Moscow, which already included many other monasteries. After its Foundation, the Novodevichy monastery received 3,000 rubles and the villages of Ahabinevo and Troparevo in addition. Vasily's son, Tsar Ivan the terrible (reigned 1533-1584), later granted a number of other villages to the monastery.

The Novodevichy monastery tonsured many women from the Royal families and boyar clans of Russia, who were sometimes forced to take vows. Fyodor I's wife Irina Godunov (lived here in 1598-1603) she lived there with her brother Boris Godunov until he became the new Tsar. Sofia Alekseyevna (sister of Peter the Great's sister, lived here in 1689-1704), Evdokia Lopukhina (first wife of Peter the Great, lived here in 1727-1731) and others. In 1610-1611, the Polish division under the command of Alexander Gosiewska captured the Novodevichy convent. When the Russian troops returned the monastery, Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich provided it with permanent soldiers (100 Streltsy in 1616, 350 soldiers in 1618). At the end of the 17th century, the Novodevichy monastery had 36 villages (164,215 acres of land) in 27 counties of Russia. In 1744, he owned 14,489 peasants.

Imperial period
In the middle of the 17th century, nuns from other monasteries in the Ukrainian and Belarusian lands were transferred to the Novodevichy monastery, the first of which was Elena Dyevochkina. In 1721, some elderly nuns who had renounced the old believers ' movement were given shelter. In 1724, the Novodevichy monastery also housed a military hospital for soldiers and officers of the Imperial Russian army and a shelter for foundling women. By 1763, the monastery had 84 nuns, 35 novices, and 78 sick patients and servants. Each year, the state provided Novodevichy monastery with 1,500 rubles, 1,300 quarters of bread, 680 rubles, and 480 quarters of bread for more than 250 abandoned children.

In 1812, Napoleon's army tried to blow up the Novodevichy monastery, but the nuns managed to save the monastery from destruction. In Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, Pierre was to be executed under the walls of a monastery, but narrowly escaped his fate. In another of his novels, Anna Karenina, Konstantin Levin meets his future wife while she was skating near the walls of the Novodevichy monastery. Indeed, Devichye field (meadow in front of the monastery) was the most popular skating rink in Moscow of the 19th century. Tolstoy himself enjoyed skating here when he lived nearby, in the Khamovniki district.

In 1871, the Filatiev brothers donated money to the Novodevichy monastery orphanage for orphans of "ignoble origin". In addition, the convent housed two almshouses for nuns and novices. In the early 1900s, the Cathedral was renovated and restored by the architect and curator Ivan Mashkov. By 1917, the Novodevichy monastery had 51 nuns and 53 lay people.

The Soviet period and beyond
In 1922, the Bolsheviks closed the Novodevichy monastery (the last Cathedral was closed in 1929) and turned it into a Museum of women's emancipation. By 1926, the Novodevichy monastery was turned into a Museum of history and art. In 1934, it became affiliated with the State historical Museum. Most of its buildings were converted into apartments, which saved the monastery from destruction.

In 1943, when Stalin introduced some relief for the Russian Orthodox Church during world war II, he authorized the opening of Moscow theological courses at the Novodevichy monastery. The following year, the institution was transformed and became the Moscow theological Institute. In 1945, the Soviets returned the assumption Cathedral to the faithful. The residence of Metropolitan Krutitsky and Kolomna has been located in the Novodevichy monastery since 1980.

In 1994, the nuns returned to the monastery, which is currently run by the Metropolitan of Krutitsky and Kolomna. Some of the churches and other monastic buildings are still associated with the State historical Museum. In 1995, religious services resumed in the monastery on the days of the patron Saint.

 

Declaration of a UNESCO world heritage site
In 2004, the Novodevichy monastery was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. The UNESCO group's assessment confirmed that the monastery is the most striking example of the so-called "Moscow Baroque". In addition to the beautiful architecture and decorative details, the monastery is characterized by urban planning value. The team also noted that the Novodevichy monastery is an outstanding example of an exceptionally well-preserved monastic complex. The Novodevichy monastery complex combines the political and cultural character of the existing world heritage site of the Moscow Kremlin. Russian Russian Orthodox Christianity and the Russian history of the XVI-XVII centuries are closely connected with the monastery itself.


Fire at the bell tower of the Novodevichy monastery
On March 15, 2015, a fire engulfed the highest bell tower of the Novodevichy monastery, which rises 72 meters. Novodevichy Monastery was undergoing major repairs and was covered with forests. It took firefighters almost three hours to put out the fire. It is reported that the fire affected an area of three hundred square meters, but the fire was limited to forests and did not cause damage to the historical building itself. The suspected cause of the fire was a short circuit caused by heat guns used to dry the facade. The press service of the Moscow Department of cultural heritage blamed the fire on a company that is carrying out restoration work. However, Russian Deputy culture Minister Grigory Pirumov said that heat guns are not used on the territory of the Novodevichy monastery, and the bell tower was disconnected from the power grid.
 
 
The building of Novodevichy monastery and monuments

Novodevichy Monastery is located in the South-Western part of the historical city of Moscow. The territory of the monastery is enclosed by walls and surrounded by a Park, which forms a buffer zone. The Park is bounded by the city to the North and East. It is bounded on the West by the Moskva river, and on the South by the city highway. The buildings are surrounded by a high masonry wall with 12 towers. Entrances from the North (city) and South. The location of the monastery territory is an irregular rectangle extending from West to East.
 
At the end of the XVII century, during the reign of Princess Sophia, a centric architectural ensemble was created around the Smolensk 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 refectory. According to the document of the second half of the XVIII century, the author of this ensemble and the Creator of most of the buildings of the monastery is the architect Peter Potapov-the Creator of the Church of the assumption on Pokrovka, close in stylistic features to the buildings of Novodevichy.

The oldest building in the Novodevichy monastery is the six-column, five-domed Smolensk Cathedral, dedicated to the icon of our lady of Smolensk. It is located in the center of the complex between two entrance gates. Available documents date its construction to 1524-1525. However, fragments of its first floor and the projecting Central pediment are typical of monastic cathedrals built later during the reign of Ivan the terrible. Most scholars agree that the Cathedral was rebuilt in the 1550s or 1560s. Previously, it was surrounded by four small chapels, reminiscent of the Annunciation Cathedral in the Kremlin. His frescoes are among the best in Moscow. At the altar of the funeral of the great but little-known General Alexey Brusilov, a hero of the First World war, who made the Brusilov breakthrough.
 
The Cathedral is the largest Church of the Novodevichy monastery, but not the only one. Most of the churches date back to the 1680s, when the monastery was completely renovated by order of Sofia Alekseyevna (who, paradoxically, was later imprisoned here). The blood-red walls, two tall churches outside the gates, a refectory, and residential cells were designed in the Moscow Baroque style, presumably by the architect Peter Potapov. In the old Cathedral in 1685, a new bowl for Holy water and a gilded carved iconostasis were installed. Its four tiers contain icons of the 16th century, made on the gifts of Boris Godunov; the fifth level displays icons of leading artists of the XVII century, Simeon Ushakov and Fyodor Zubov.

The slender bell tower of the Novodevichy monastery, also commissioned by Princess Sofia, was built in six tiers at a height of 72 meters, making it the tallest structure in 18th-century Moscow (after the bell tower of Ivan the Great in the Kremlin). Six-tiered bell tower in the Naryshkin style, 72 meters high (late XVII), 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 an analysis of proportions) that the bell tower should have been seven — tiered-but was not completed due to the overthrow of Princess Sophia in 1689. This white octagonal column seems to combine all the main elements of the ensemble into one harmonious whole.
 
 
Necropolis and cemetery
The necropolis of the Novodevichy monastery existed already in the 16th century. Like other Moscow monasteries (in particular, Danilov and Donskoy), the monastery was a popular place among the Russian nobility as a burial place. Sergei Solovyov and Alexey Brusilov are only two of the many prominent Muscovites buried within the monastery walls. The hero of the Napoleonic campaign Denis Davydov is also buried on the territory.

In 1898-1904, the so-called Novodevichy cemetery was created near the southern wall. Anton Chekhov was one of the first writers to be buried in the new cemetery, and Nikolai Gogol was later reburied here. During the Soviet era, it was turned into the most high-profile cemetery in the Soviet Union, where Pyotr Kropotkin, Nikita Khrushchev, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitry Shostakovich, Konstantin Stanislavsky, Boris Yeltsin and Mstislav Rostropovich were buried.
 
In the 1930s, the monastery necropolis was subjected to "reconstruction", as a result of which only about 100 tombstones out of 2000 survived. The graves of such figures as the Minister of war D. A. Milyutin, generals S. S. Apraksin and A. F. Baggovut, philanthropist I. S. Maltsov, and educator L. I. Polivanov were lost.

Smolensk cathedral
The first wife of Peter I, tsarina Evdokia Fyodorovna Lopukhina, became a monk Elena (August 27, 1731).
Tsarevna: Sofia Alekseevna, in schema Sofia (July 3, 1704); Evdokia Alekseevna (may 10, 1712); Ekaterina Alekseevna (may 1, 1718).
Tsarevna: Anna Ivanovna, daughter of Ivan the terrible (July 20, 1550); Elena Ivanovna Sheremeteva, in the monastic life of Leonid (December 25, 1596).

Around the Cathedral and the assumption Church
Abbesses: methodia (Yakushkina) (February 10, 1845); paisia (Nudolskaya) (January 25, 1871); Leonid (Ozerov) (January 18, 1920); Seraphim (Chernaya) (December 16, 1999).
Nun Sarah, Treasurer (March 18, 1840).
Nun Feofania, novice of the monk Elena (December 18, 1511).
Tatiana Levshina, mother of Metropolitan Plato of Moscow (18 December 1511).
President of the justice College Yakovlev A. A. (1781) and members of his family.
Heroes of the war of 1812: the poet Denis Vasilyevich Davydov (1839); Dmitry Mikhailovich Volkonsky (may 7, 1835); Volkonsky S. A.
Generals: Lev korneevich Pashchenko. (1834); Vasily Ivanovich Timofeev (1850); Mikhail Fyodorovich Orlov (1842); Moscow military Governor-General Pavel Alekseevich Tuchkov (1864); Minister of war, field Marshal Dmitry Milyutin (1912).
Participants in the Decembrist uprising: S. N. Trubetskoy (1860); Alexander Nikolayevich Muravyov (December 18, 1863); Matvey Ivanovich Muravyov-Apostol (1886).
Writers: Alexander Aleksandrovich Shakhovskoy (1848); Mikhail Nikolaevich Zagoskin (1852); Ivan Ivanovich Lazhechnikov (1869); Alexey feofilaktovich Pisemsky (1881); N. V. Sushkov (1871); poet and translator Alexey Nikolaevich Pleshcheev (1871).
Historians: Alexander Ivanovich Turgenev (1845); Mikhail Petrovich Pogodin (1875); Sergey Mikhailovich Solovyov (1879); Church historian and theologian Gilyarov-Platonov N. P. (1887); count Alexey Sergeevich Uvarov (1884), scientist-archaeologist, founder of the Moscow Archaeological Society and Historical Museum).
Philologists: Osip Maksimovich bodyansky (September 6, 1877); Fyodor Ivanovich Buslaev (1897).
Philosophers: Vladimir Sergeevich Solovyov (1900); Lev Mikhailovich Lopatin (1920).
Lawyers: E. E. Luminarsky (1883); M. V. dukhovskoy (1903); Nikolai Lvovich duvernois (1906).
Professors of medicine: Ostroumov A. A. (1908); Bubnov S. F. (1909); Golubinin L. E. (1912); rein F. A. (1925).
Generals: Alexey Alekseyevich Brusilov (1926); Yakhontov R.N. (1924); Andrey Medardovich Zayonchkovsky (1926).
Some members of the Prokhorov family, owners of the trekhgornaya manufactory and famous benefactors (the tomb).
 
 
The well of Babel
According to legend, on the place where they originally tried to lay the Novodevichy monastery, a strong key clogged, so that the construction had to be postponed, and the well and stream were named Babylon. A slab was placed on this spring, and later a chapel was laid, which at the turn of the XVIII—XIX centuries Metropolitan Platon (Levshin) gave to the Kremlin monastery. In 1921, one of the old nuns explained the origin of the name:

"It is called Babylonian because, as the tower of Babel was not completed, so here: they began to build a monastery and the key prevented.»