Novospassky Monastery - The Oldest in Moscow

The Novospassky Monastery is located in Taganka, the south eastern region of Moscow. It is said that the Novospassky Monastery was founded in the 12th century, in the reign of Prince Yury Dolgoruky. Prince Yury Dolgoruky was the founder of Moscow, and if the date of construction is correct, the Novospassky Monastery is the oldest monastery in Moscow.

Originally, the Novospassky Monastery was built on the site where the Danilov Monastery is located today, but was transferred to the Kremlin by Ivan the Terrible in 1300. It was again relocated, to its present site, by Ivan III in 1490, and therefore carries the name, the “New Monastery of the Saviour” or as we know it, the Novospassky Monastery. The original building was destroyed by the Tartars and most of the structure that exists today is from the 17th century. Novaspassky Monastery was then reinforced with thick walls and gigantic four tiered towers, to protect the monastery against any further attacks.

The Bolsheviks used the monastery as a concentration camp during the 20th century, then as a furniture factory and as an alcoholics rehabilitation centre. The Novospassy Monastery was made a church in 1991 again.

Many interesting events are linked to this Moscow church. Within the monastery complex, is the tomb of Pasha Kovalyova. Pasha Kovalyova was a name that was synonymous with controversy in the late 18th century. Pasha was a serf girl and Count Nikolai Sheremetev had fallen deeply in love with her. Of course, the love between a royal member and serf girl was scandalous in the eyes of the Muscovite high society. Count Nikolai was not influenced by public opinion and lived with Pasha for fourteen years, out of wedlock. Pasha had become a gifted opera singer, and performed under the stage name of “Zhemchugova”, which is Russian for “pearl”. The Count eventually married Pasha, but tragically, she died whilst giving birth three years later.

In a small tent roofed chapel, north of the main cathedral, lies Princess Tarakanova. She was the illegitimate child of Count Razumovsky and Empress Elizabeth, and was sent abroad to be educated. On her return to claim her rightful position, she was seen as an impostor and imprisoned. Catherine the Great entrusted her lover, Count Orlov, to lure Tarakanova back to the country were upon she was confined to a nunnery. Many had believed that the princess had died during a flood in the Peter and Paul Fortress, but contrary to belief, she lived in the Ivanovsky Convent for twenty five years. After Catherine’s death she had already accepted her fate and remained at the convent as Sister Inokeniya Dosieeya.

The Novospassky Monastery in Moscow also has a large pond within its fortifications. The pond used to supply the monks with fish, but the NKVD tainted the pond by using the pond to bury foreign Communists that they had shot in secrecy in 1930. The Monastery is a Moscow church that is not only home to history, but is linked to love, tragedy and devastation.


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