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The Novodevichy Convent

12. January 2010 by Gregg 0 Comments

The Novodevichy Convent, or “New Maidens Convent”, a staple in the cultural and theological history of Moscow, Russia, was founded in the 1500’s by Vasili III, the Grand Prince of Russia. By the end of the 1700’s, the Convent had grown so large that it had 36 villages under its ownership. The Convent itself is notable for having stayed structurally the same since the 1700’s.

The Convent had played a significant role in many wars in the history of Russia, housing a hospital for injured soldiers during the 1700’s and having almost been blown up by Napoleon’s forces during the Capture of Moscow in 1812. In 1922, after the October Revolution, the Convent was officially dissolved and turned into a museum, while many of the nearby buildings and facilities were transformed into houses and apartments. Under Joseph Stalin, it later housed the Moscow Theological Institute and the cathedral nearby was given back to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Novodevichy Cemetery is situated nearby and houses the remains of many famous Russians including Anton Chekhov, Nikolai Gogol, Boris Yeltsin and Dmitri Schostakovich. It is one of the most prestigious cemeteries in Russia and after Russia discontinued burials at the Kremlin wall, the place that the most culturally and politically significant Russians are buried.

Earlier this month, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s Prime Minister announced that the entire Novodevichy Convent would be returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Museum will not be moved, but the Convent will now also house a community of nuns and the church and state would cooperate regarding the Convent and Museum’s coexistence. The Novodevichy Cemetery will still be operated by the city of Moscow.