On a cold and rainy October day I headed out to visit the convent.
I was told that you can not miss the convent as you get out of the metro, but that is probably if you get off at the right metro stop. I got off and found the right street bur couldn’t see the convent straight away, took me a couple of minutes walk before I saw the towers of the Cathedral inside. Was quite a walk until I reached it and wasn’t quite sure I was heading in the right direction. As I got closer I recognized the white walls that surround it and saw that there was a metro just around the corner from it.
Right in front of the convent is a small park that I walked through to get to the entrance. Next to the convent is the Moscow River and you can see the towering city buildings on the other side of the river.
By now I have learnt a couple of Russian words so went to practice them on the ticket seller. Took me a while to understand what she was saying. She was pointing at a map and grumbling at me and finally I got that I don’t have to pay to enter the complex, only if I want to enter the small museum on the grounds or if I want to take pictures. I later learned that this is a typical practice in Russia to make people pay more if they want to take photos.
As I walked into the monastery complex, the first thing I saw was the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk which is the oldest, and the most important, building in the convent with its dazzling onion domes. I couldn’t go right into the cathedral, just into the entrance but from there I could have a good look at the inside. The interior is very impressive, with glorious frescoes and paintings dating from 1684.
I absolutely loved the soaring bell-tower and all the other small churches dotted around the monastery. The saddest little chapel was where Queen Sophia was condemned to solitary confinement for the rest of her life after she tried to escape from the convent. I couldn’t believe that they were so cruel to lock her up in this small chapel until she died.
It was the start of autumn and my first visit and I really loved all the autumn colours of the leaves. I found some beautiful orange coloured trees in the complex and just had to throw some of the leaves around.
I definitely think that the Novodevichy Convent is one of the most beautiful sights in Moscow.
The convent is also famous for its Cemetery, which became the most prestigious in the city in the last century and the final resting place for a number of great cultural and political figures. It is also rumored that lots of top mafia people are buried here.
This site I definitely couldn’t miss seeing and as it was just next door I headed out that way. I walked along the river but had to walk all the way around the wall as the entrance was around the other side.
I really wanted to visit the graves of all the famous Russians buried here as they all have such amazing head stones. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my travel guide with me and the place map is all in Russian, took me a while to decipher where a couple of famous people were and then decided to come back another time and explore again with the help of an English map.
It has nearly 27000 graves with remarkable headstones and loads of flowers everywhere.
The grave of Boris Yeltsin definitely stood out among all the others as it was one huge Russian flag.
It was amazing to just walk around the peaceful cemetery and have a look at the extraordinary granite and metal monstrosities that crown the graves of various politicians and military commanders of the Soviet era. It was a fascinating experience.