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Russia: Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery

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Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery | Russia | Europe

[Visited: May 2011]

A short subway ride from the city centre, followed by a less than ten minutes walk, took us to what supposedly is the oldest existing convent of the city of Moscow. We approached the entrance, but decided to postpone actually going inside. Instead, we walked down towards the pond on its northern side. Not only did the pond look attractive, with the trees surrounding it, but we also hoped to get a good view of the convent and its walls. In fact, the view from the other side was splendid. Under a grey sky, we saw the golden spires of one of the churches inside, the bell tower, and several sturdy towers, of which some were circular, and others square. We continued walking, all around the complex, until we reached the entrance to the famous Novodevichy Cemetery.

Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Statue of a woman, and a flower, at a tomb in Novodevichy Cemetery

Now, we were ready to go in. We studied the map at the entrance, which looked similar to the one we had. On such an extensive cemetery with famous people, a map is essential to find your way. We decided for a clock-wise exploration. Soon, we got distracted, and entered small side alleys where we found statues, sculptures, lots of trees and flowers. Some of the tombs were decorated to impress, while others looked very simple, yet touching. A white statue of a weeping woman, with several fresh roses, along a black tombstone, or a sculpted woman with a tender look in her face, seemingly caressing the grave, were just a few examples of the graves that touched me. Looking for internationally know Russians, we also came across the grave of Nikita Khrushchev, Raisa Gorbachev, several cosmonauts, Prokofiev, the second wife of Stalin, and others. During the Soviet era, this cemetery was used for those who were not welcome to rest in the Kremlin wall; obviously, times have changed. From the impressive cemetery of Novodevichy, we moved to the convent, which is next door.

Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Reflection of Novodevichy Convent in the adjacent pond

Founded in the early 16th century to commemorate the victory at Smolensk, the convent of Novodevichy eventually saw many royal ladies entering, but never leaving. They were often banned to spend the rest of their lives in the convent. Looking at the sturdy walls and towers, it was easy to imagine that escaping from here was no option. But this was not a prison: it was a convent, and several religious buildings were constructed. The prominent, and oldest, one is Smolensk Cathedral, named after the conquered city, which has elegant onion-shaped cupolas but was closed. Besides, small chapels with golden roofs, a fine bell tower, and more churches. This lovely convent was closed and performed other functions starting 1926; it was restored being a convent only in 1994. Not only is the convent itself a special place to see, its view from a distance is not to be missed. Actually, we were very lucky, for when we walked towards the pond a second time, the sun came through and the views of the reflection of Novodevichy convent were splendid.

Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Typical Orthodox towers of Assumption church glistening in the afternoon sun
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Southern wall with tombs of Novodevichy Cemetery
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Golden onion-shaped domes of Smolensk cathedral towering above trees and Prokhorov Chapel
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Endearing statue seeming to eternally caress a tomb at Novodevichy Cemetery
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Tomb of Raisa Gorbachev with statue and flowers in abundance
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Nikita Khrushchev tomb with black and white parts at Novodevichy Cemetery
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Statue with fresh flowers at a grave at Novodevichy Cemetery
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Red-and-white tower of Novodevichy Convent
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Bell tower of Novodevichy Convent
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Reflection of Novodevichy Convent and cloudy sky in the pond
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Military on the phone on a tombstone of Novodevichy Cemetery
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Lane with trees, tombs and sculptures at Novodevichy Cemetery
Picture of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery (Russia): Long wall with tombs and flowers at Novodevichy Cemetery

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