This convent was founded as a nunnery for women of noble birth and as a fortress at the same time in 1524 by the Grand Prince of Moscow, Vasili III, father of the notorious Russian tsar, Ivan the Terrible, to celebrate the recapture of the old Russian city of Smolensk from the Lithuanians. Over the centuries, the convent was the witness of many dramatic historic events and was also used as a placed of exile for some members of the Russian royalty that fell off the favour.
The ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent is particularly famous for its architectural harmony. It was completed at the end of the 17th century and, unlike many other Moscow monasteries, has remained virtually intact since that time. In 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk is the oldest and the most significant building of the ensemble. It has an impressive interior with magnificent frescoes and five-tiered iconostasis dating from 1684. Since 1994, there are religious services in the cathedral during the summer period. Women should enter the cathedral with their heads covered.
Nowadays the convent is a museum, which houses rare and ancient treasures of the Russian cultural heritage, like paintings, woodworks, ceramics, fabrics and a large collection of illustrated and richly decorated books. In addition, on the nunnery's grounds located a cemetery, the prestigious final resting place for a number of great cultural and political figures of Russia, including tsars' relatives, members of boyar families, participants of the Napoleonic War of 1812 and such famous Russian names as Chekhov, Bulgakov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Stanislavsky, to name a few.
Panoramic private city tour offers the chance to explore the very best that the capital has to offer in the safety and comfort of a private vehicle with brief photo stops. It is an excellent way to see the world-famous sights and impressive landmarks of this vivacious city, such as Moscow’s legendary buildings and palaces, historical museums, art galleries, renowned bridges and squares.
The Moscow sightseeing tour will be followed by the guided visit to the spectacular 16th-century ensemble of the Novodevichy (New Maiden’s) Convent on the banks of the Moskva River.