Novodevichy Convent

Novodevichy Convent

Overview
Novodevichy Convent, also known as Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery is probably the best-known cloister
Cloister
A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth...

 of Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. Its name, sometimes translated as the New Maidens' Monastery, was devised to differ from an ancient maidens' convent
Ascension Convent
Ascension Convent, known as the Starodevichy Convent or Old Maiden's until 1817 , was a female cloister in the Moscow Kremlin which contained the burials of grand princesses, tsarinas, and other noble ladies from the Muscovite royal court.It is believed that Ascension Convent was founded in 1389...

 within the Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

. Unlike other Moscow cloisters, it has remained virtually intact since the 17th century. In 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

.


The Novodevichy Convent was founded in 1524 by Grand Prince
Grand Prince
The title grand prince or great prince ranked in honour below emperor and tsar and above a sovereign prince .Grand duke is the usual and established, though not literal, translation of these terms in English and Romance languages, which do not normally use separate words for a "prince" who reigns...

 Vasili III
Vasili III of Russia
Vasili III Ivanovich was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533. He was the son of Ivan III Vasiliyevich and Sophia Paleologue and was christened with the name Gavriil...

 in commemoration of the conquest of Smolensk
Smolensk
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River. Situated west-southwest of Moscow, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk...

 in 1514.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Novodevichy Convent'
Start a new discussion about 'Novodevichy Convent'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
Novodevichy Convent, also known as Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery is probably the best-known cloister
Cloister
A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth...

 of Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. Its name, sometimes translated as the New Maidens' Monastery, was devised to differ from an ancient maidens' convent
Ascension Convent
Ascension Convent, known as the Starodevichy Convent or Old Maiden's until 1817 , was a female cloister in the Moscow Kremlin which contained the burials of grand princesses, tsarinas, and other noble ladies from the Muscovite royal court.It is believed that Ascension Convent was founded in 1389...

 within the Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

. Unlike other Moscow cloisters, it has remained virtually intact since the 17th century. In 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

.

Muscovite period



The Novodevichy Convent was founded in 1524 by Grand Prince
Grand Prince
The title grand prince or great prince ranked in honour below emperor and tsar and above a sovereign prince .Grand duke is the usual and established, though not literal, translation of these terms in English and Romance languages, which do not normally use separate words for a "prince" who reigns...

 Vasili III
Vasili III of Russia
Vasili III Ivanovich was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533. He was the son of Ivan III Vasiliyevich and Sophia Paleologue and was christened with the name Gavriil...

 in commemoration of the conquest of Smolensk
Smolensk
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River. Situated west-southwest of Moscow, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk...

 in 1514. It was built as a fortress at a curve of the Moskva River
Moskva River
The Moskva River is a river that flows through the Moscow and Smolensk Oblasts in Russia, and is a tributary of the Oka River.-Etymology:...

 and became an important part of the southern defensive belt of the capital, which had already included a number of other monasteries. Upon its founding, the Novodevichy Convent was granted 3,000 rubles
Russian ruble
The ruble or rouble is the currency of the Russian Federation and the two partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Formerly, the ruble was also the currency of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union prior to their breakups. Belarus and Transnistria also use currencies with...

 and the villages of Akhabinevo and Troparevo. Ivan the Terrible
Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV Vasilyevich , known in English as Ivan the Terrible , was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres,...

 would later grant a number of other villages to the convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

.

The Novodevichy Convent was known to have sheltered many ladies from the Russian royal families and boyar
Boyar
A boyar, or bolyar , was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Moscovian, Kievan Rus'ian, Bulgarian, Wallachian, and Moldavian aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes , from the 10th century through the 17th century....

 clans, who had been forced to take the veil, such as Feodor I
Feodor I of Russia
Fyodor I Ivanovich 1598) was the last Rurikid Tsar of Russia , son of Ivan IV and Anastasia Romanovna. In English he is sometimes called Feodor the Bellringer in consequence of his strong faith and inclination to travel the land and ring the bells at churches. However, in Russian the name...

's wife Irina Godunova
Irina Godunova
Irina Feodorovna Godunova later Alexandra was the wife of Tsar Feodor I Ivanovich and the sister of Tsar Boris Godunov Irina Feodorovna Godunova later Alexandra (1557–1603) was the wife of Tsar Feodor I Ivanovich (r. 1584–1598) and the sister of Tsar Boris Godunov Irina Feodorovna Godunova...

 (she was there with her brother Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov
Boris Fyodorovich Godunov was de facto regent of Russia from c. 1585 to 1598 and then the first non-Rurikid tsar from 1598 to 1605. The end of his reign saw Russia descend into the Time of Troubles.-Early years:...

 until he became a ruler himself), Sophia Alekseyevna
Sophia Alekseyevna
Sophia Alekseyevna was a regent of Russian Tsardom who allied herself with a singularly capable courtier and politician, Prince Vasily Galitzine, to install herself as a regent during the minority of her brothers, Peter the Great and Ivan V...

 (Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

's sister), Eudoxia Lopukhina
Eudoxia Lopukhina
Tsarina Evdokiya Feodorovna Lopukhina was the first wife of Peter I of Russia. They married in 1689 but divorced in 1698...

 (Peter the Great's first wife), and others. In 1610–1611, the Novodevichy Convent was captured by a Polish
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

 unit under the command of Aleksander Gosiewski. Once the convent was retaken by Russian forces, the tsar supplied it with permanent guards (100 Streltsy
Streltsy
Streltsy were the units of Russian guardsmen in the 16th - early 18th centuries, armed with firearms. They are also collectively known as Marksman Troops .- Origins and organization :...

 in 1616, 350 soldiers in 1618). By the end of the 17th century, the Novodevichy Convent possessed 36 villages (164,215 desyatinas of land) in 27 uyezd
Uyezd
Uyezd or uezd was an administrative subdivision of Rus', Muscovy, Russian Empire, and the early Russian SFSR which was in use from the 13th century. Uyezds for most of the history in Russia were a secondary-level of administrative division...

s of Russia. In 1744, it owned 14,489 peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

s.

Imperial period


In the mid-17th century, nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s from other monasteries in the Ukrainian
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

ian were transferred to Novodevichy Convent. In 1721, some of the aged nuns, who renounced the Old Believers movement
Old Believers
In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652–66...

, were given shelter. In 1724, the convent also housed a military hospital for the soldiers and officers of the Imperial Russian Army
Imperial Russian Army
The Imperial Russian Army was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of around 938,731 regular soldiers and 245,850 irregulars . Until the time of military reform of Dmitry Milyutin in...

 and an orphanage for female foundlings
Child abandonment
Child abandonment is the practice of relinquishing interests and claims over one's offspring with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting them. Causes include many social and cultural factors as well as mental illness. An abandoned child is called a foundling .-Causes:Poverty is often a...

. By 1763, the convent housed 84 nuns, 35 lay sisters, and 78 sick patients and servants. Each year, the state provided the Novodevichy Convent with 1,500 rubles, 1,300 quarters of bread, and 680 rubles and 480 quarters of bread for more than 250 abandoned children.

In 1812, Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

's army made an attempt to blow up the convent, but the nuns managed to save the cloister from destruction. In Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

's War and Peace
War and Peace
War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in 1869. The work is epic in scale and is regarded as one of the most important works of world literature...

, Pierre was to be executed under the convent walls. In another novel of his, Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina is a novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger...

, Konstantin Lyovin (the main character) meets his future wife Kitty ice-skating near monastery walls. Indeed, the Maiden's Field (as a meadow in front of the convent came to be known) was the most popular skating-rink in 19th-century Moscow. Tolstoy himself enjoyed skating here, when he lived nearby, in the district of Khamovniki
Khamovniki
Khamovniki District is a district of Central Administrative Okrug of Moscow, Russia. Population: The district extends from Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge into Luzhniki bend of Moskva River; northern boundary with Arbat District follows Znamenka Street, Gogolevsky Boulevard, Sivtsev Vrazhek and Borodinsky...

.

In 1871, the Filatyev brothers donated money for a shelter-school for the orphans of "ignoble origins". Also, the convent housed two almshouse
Almshouse
Almshouses are charitable housing provided to enable people to live in a particular community...

s for nuns and lay sisters. In early 1900s, the Cathedral was surveyed and restored by architect and preservationist
Preservationist
Preservationist is generally understood to mean historic preservationist: one who advocates to preserve architecturally or historically significant buildings, structures, objects or sites from demolition or degradation...

 Ivan Mashkov
Ivan Mashkov
Ivan Pavlovich Mashkov was a Russian architect and preservationist, notable for surveying and restoration of Dormition Cathedral of Moscow Kremlin, Novodevichy Convent and other medieval buildings. His best known extant building is Sokol luxury Art Nouveau apartment building in Kuznetsky Most...

. By 1917, there were 51 nuns and 53 lay sisters residing in the Novodevichy Convent.

Soviet period and beyond


In 1922, the Bolsheviks closed down the Novodevichy Convent (the cathedral was the last to be closed, in 1929) and turned it into the Museum of Women's Emancipation. By 1926, the monastery had been transformed into a history and art museum. In 1934, it became affiliated with the State Historical Museum
State Historical Museum
The State Historical Museum of Russia is a museum of Russian history wedged between Red Square and Manege Square in Moscow. Its exhibitions range from relics of the prehistoric tribes inhabiting present-day Russia, through priceless artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty...

. Most of its facilities were turned into apartments, which spared the convent from destruction.

In 1943, when Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 started to make advances to the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, he sanctioned opening the Moscow Theological Courses at the convent. Next year the program was transformed and became the Moscow Theological Institute. In 1945, the Soviets returned Assumption Cathedral to the believers. The residence of the Metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 of Krutitsy
Krutitsy
Krutitsy Metochion , full name: Krutitsy Patriarchal Metochion is an operating ecclesiastical estate of Russian Orthodox Church, located in Tagansky District of Moscow, Russia, 3 kilometers south-east from the Kremlin. The name Krutitsy , i.e. steep river banks, originally meant the hills...

 and Kolomna
Kolomna
Kolomna is an ancient city and the administrative center of Kolomensky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, situated at the confluence of the Moskva and Oka Rivers, southeast of Moscow. The area of the city is about . The city was founded in 1177...

 has been located in the Novodevichy Convent since 1980.

In 1994, nuns returned to the convent, which is currently under the authority of the Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna. Some of the churches and other monastic buildings are still affiliated with the State Historical Museum. In 1995, religious resumed services in the convent on patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

's days.

Monuments



The oldest structure in the convent is the six-pillared five-domed cathedral, dedicated to the icon Our Lady of Smolensk. Extant documents date its construction to 1524–1525; yet its lofty ground floor, magisterial proportions, and projecting central gable are typical of monastery cathedrals built at the behest of Ivan the Terrible. Most scholars agree that the cathedral was rebuilt in the 1550s or 1560s; it was formerly ringed by four smaller chapels, in an arrangement reminiscent of the Annunciation Cathedral
Cathedral of the Annunciation
The Cathedral of the Annunciation is a Russian Orthodox church dedicated to the Annunciation of the Theotokos. It is located on the southwest side of Cathedral Square of the Moscow Kremlin in Russia, where it connects directly to the main building of the complex of the Grand Kremlin Palace,...

 in the Kremlin. Its fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

s are among the finest in Moscow.

The cathedral may be a focal point of the convent, but there are many other churches. Most date from the 1680s, when the convent was thoroughly renovated at the behest of the regent Sophia Alexeyevna (who, ironically, would be incarcerated there later). The blood-red walls and crown-towers, two lofty over-the-gates churches, a refectory, and residential quarters were all designed in the Muscovite Baroque style, supposedly by a certain Peter Potapov. In the old cathedral, a new bowl for holy water and gilded carved iconostasis
Iconostasis
In Eastern Christianity an iconostasis is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church...

 were installed in 1685. Its four tiers contain 16th-century icons endowed by Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov
Boris Fyodorovich Godunov was de facto regent of Russia from c. 1585 to 1598 and then the first non-Rurikid tsar from 1598 to 1605. The end of his reign saw Russia descend into the Time of Troubles.-Early years:...

; the fifth tier displays icons by leading 17th-century painters, Simeon Ushakov and Fyodor Zubov.

An arresting slender belltower, also commissioned by Sophia, was built in six tiers to a height of 72 metres (236.2 ft), making it the tallest structure in 18th-century Moscow (after the Ivan the Great Bell Tower
Ivan the Great Bell Tower
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower is the tallest of the towers in the Moscow Kremlin complex, with a total height of . It was built in 1508 for the Russian Orthodox cathedrals in Cathedral Square, namely the Assumption, Archangel and Annunciation cathedrals, which do not have their own belfries...

 in the Kremlin). This light octagonal column seems to unite all major elements of the ensemble into one harmonious whole.

Cemetery



Like other Moscow monasteries (notably the Danilov
Danilov Monastery
Danilov Monastery, in full Svyato-Danilov Monastery or Holy Danilov Monastery , is a monastery on the right bank of the Moskva River in Moscow, Russia...

 and the Donskoy
Donskoy Monastery
Donskoy Monastery is a major monastery in Moscow, founded in 1591 in commemoration of Moscow's deliverance from an imminent threat of Khan Kazy-Girey’s invasion...

) the New Maidens' Monastery was coveted by the Russian nobility as a place of burial. Sergey Solovyov
Sergey Solovyov
Sergey Mikhaylovich Solovyov was one of the greatest Russian historians whose influence on the next generation of Russian historians was paramount. His son Vladimir Solovyov was one of the most influential Russian philosophers...

 and Alexei Brusilov are only two of the many prominent Muscovites buried within convent walls. The Napoleonic hero Denis Davydov
Denis Davydov
Denis Vasilyevich Davydov was a Russian soldier-poet of the Napoleonic Wars who invented a specific genre – hussar poetry noted for its hedonism and bravado – and spectacularly designed his own life to illustrate such poetry.-Biography:...

 is also buried in the grounds. In 1898, the so-called Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Moscow, Russia. It is next to the 16th-century Novodevichy Convent, which is the city's third most popular tourist site. It should not be confused with the Novodevichy Cemetery in Saint Petersburg....

 was opened without monastery walls. Anton Chekhov
Anton Chekhov
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian physician, dramatist and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics...

 was one of the first notables to be interred at the new necropolis, and Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist.Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of Surrealism...

 was later reburied there too. During the Soviet epoch, it was turned into the most high-profile cemetery in the Soviet Union, with the likes of Peter Kropotkin
Peter Kropotkin
Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was a Russian zoologist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, economist, geographer, author and one of the world's foremost anarcho-communists. Kropotkin advocated a communist society free from central government and based on voluntary associations between...

, Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

, Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

, Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century....

, Konstantin Stanislavski
Konstantin Stanislavski
Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski , was a Russian actor and theatre director. Building on the directorially-unified aesthetic and ensemble playing of the Meiningen company and the naturalistic staging of Antoine and the independent theatre movement, Stanislavski organized his realistic...

, Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

, and Mstislav Rostropovich
Mstislav Rostropovich
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich, KBE , known to close friends as Slava, was a Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor. He was married to the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. He is widely considered to have been the greatest cellist of the second half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest of...

being interred there.

External links