Novodevichy Convent in Moscow
Novodevichy Convent, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, also known as Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery is a well-known cloister of Moscow. The Novodevichy Convent was founded in 1524 by Grand Prince Vasili III in commemoration of the conquest of Smolensk in 1514 at a curve of the Moskva River. It was captured by a Polish unit under the command of Aleksander Gosiewski in 1610-1611. It was liberated by the tsar in 1616 with deployment of 100 Streltsy in that year and 350 soldiers in 1618. Once the Convent was a shelter of ladies from the Russian royal families and boyar clans. In the 17th century, nuns from other Ukrainian and Belarusian monasteries were transfered to this Convent
The Filatyev brothers donated money for a shelter-school for the orphans of "ignoble origins" in 1871. The Bolsheviks closed down the Novodevichy Convent in 1922 but the cathedral was the last to be closed, in 1929 and turned it into the Museum of Women's Emancipation. In 1926, the monastery was transformed into a history and art museum and was affiliated with the State Historical Museum in 1934.
Theological Courses at the convent were started by Stalin in 1943 and the program was transformed and became the Moscow Theological Institute in 1944. 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, they resumed service in the convent on patron saint's days.
The oldest structure in the convent is the six-pillared five-domed cathedral, dedicated to the icon Our Lady of Smolensk. It was formerly ringed by four smaller chapels, in an arrangement reminiscent of the Annunciation Cathedral in the Kremlin. Its frescos are among the finest in Moscow. 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 were installed in 1685. Its four tiers contain 16th-century icons endowed by Boris Godunov. The fifth tier displays icons by leading 17th-century painters, Simeon Ushakov and Fyodor Zubov.
The belltower commissioned by Sophia, was built in six tiers to a height of 72 metres, making it the second highest structure in 18th-century Moscow after Ivan the Great Bell Tower. In 1898, the Novodevichy Cemetery was opened without monastery walls. It was turned into the most high-profile cemetery in Russia.
Novodevichy Convent is probably the best-known cloister of Moscow. Unlike other Moscow cloisters, it has remained virtually intact since the 17th century. In 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.