Novodevichy Convent – Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery
The Novodevichy Convent, its early name is Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery, is located in the South-West of Moscow at the bend of the Moscow River. It is one of the oldest church buildings. It was founded in 1524 by Grand Duke Vasili III in memory of the liberation of Rus from the Polish-Lithuanian invaders and the annexation of Smolensk to the Russian state in 1514. Since that time, the monastery has become a privileged abode, in which the women from the royal family were tonsured as nuns.
In 1591 Novodevichy Monastery confronted the troops of the Crimean Khan Ğazı II Giray. In those same years a cemetery arose on its territory.
The widow of the eldest son of Ivan the Terrible, Queen Irina Godunova, Peter the Great’s sister Sophia and his first wife Evdokia Lopukhina were imprisoned in Novodevichy Convent.
In 1812 the French turned convent into a temporary infirmary and placed a cannon battery in it. Emperor Napoleon specially came to see the outlandish nunnery. When leaving Moscow, the French tried to set fire to the monastery, poured alcohol from the barrel, scattered the straw, but nothing happened. Then they went down to the cells, where the powder casks were kept, put burning candles on them and left. The nuns, risking their lives, extinguished the candles and saved the monastery. However, it was important for Napoleon to see the fire above the building. Therefore he stopped at Vorobyovy Gory, and waited. He had a plan: if nothing happened, went back and tried again. One local resident, whose house stood closely to the monastery, learned about his plan. Therefore, in order to save the shrine, he decided to set fire to his own home. That was enough for Napoleon: when he saw the flames, he began to retreat.
A large pond located near the Novodevichy Convent is surrounded by a halo of mysticism and mystery. As you know, on the ice of this reservoir Peter I personally chopped the heads of rebellious streltsy. People say, souls of murdered people are constantly gathering around the pond, wishing to find their executioners.
In 1922 Novodevichy, as it is called abbreviated, was closed. Later, the Museum of Female Emancipation was founded in it. As a nunnery, it was reopened only in 1994.
Today the ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent is interesting as an example of Russian monumental architecture of the 16th-17th centuries, the so-called “Moscow Baroque” style. Recently, UNESCO included it in the World Heritage List of Humanity.
According to one legend, if you visit the monastery square at night and make a wish, it will come true. And if you come to the park with your beloved, your life will be long and happy.
There is one more wonderful place in the park – the sculpture “Duck with ducklings”. It was given to Russian children by American children as a token of love and friendship.