Novodevichy Convent or Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery

Novodevichy Convent, also known by the name of Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery, is a very well known cloister in Moscow. When the name Bogoroditse-Smolensky is translated to English, the cloister is then known as the New Maidens’ Monastery, which is specifically different in name from the ancient maidens’ convent in Moscow Kremlin. In 2004 the UNESCO World Heritage organization incorporated the monastery as part of its heritage site list due to the fact that, unlike other Moscow monasteries, the Novodevichy Convent has remained intact since the 17th century.

In 1524 the Novodevichy Convent was founded by Grand Prince Vasili III to celebrate the take-over of Smolensk in 1514. The convent was built as a fortress by the Moskva River, where there is a curve in the River. This move added to the already large number of monasteries on the southern defensive belt of the capital. Once the Novodevichy Convent was founded, it was handed over 3,000 rubles and two villages, Akhabinevo and Troparevo, were allowed to the convent. It was only later that Ivan the Terrible allowed a number of other villages to the convent.

Many ladies from the Russian royal family and boyar clans took shelter at the Novodevichy Convent, because of the fact that they had been forced to take the veil. For instance, Feodor I’s wife Irina Godunova stayed at the convent with her brother Boris Godunov until the time when he was appointed ruler. Sophia Alekseyevna, Peter the Great’s sister, and Eudoxia Lopukhina, Peter the Great’s first wife, were also some of the examples of the ladies who had to take refuge. Later a Polish unit captured the Convent in 1610- 1611, under Aleksander Gosiewski command. Once the Novodevichy Cloister was set free from Polish command, the tsar supplied it with guards who permanently kept an eye on it from the year 1616. At the end of the 17th century the Novodevichy Convent possessed up to 36 villages, 27 uyezds and 164,215 desyatinas of land and by 1744 it owned a total of 14, 489 peasants.

The convent was closed by the Bolsheviks in 1922 and it was only later in 1929 that the cathedral was closed. The convent from there was turned into a Museum of Woman’s Emancipation. Later in 1934 the Novodevichy Convent was associated with the State Historical Museum and all the other facilities of the convent were turned into housing which prevented the convent from being destroyed.


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