The Novodevichy Convent (New Nunnery
or Maiden) is situated on the inner side of the horseshoe band
of the Moskva-River near the Devichye (Maid's) field. The nunnery
was called Novodevichy (New Maiden's) to differ from Ascension
Nunnery, called Starodevichy (Old Maiden's).
It was established in 1524 as a monument to the freeing of Smolensk
(the main city on the way to the west, the city was freed from
the Litva in 1514, who had captured the town as early as the beginning
of the 15th century.) from Polish rule.
The walls and the towers were erected in the end of 16th century
during the reign of Boris Godunov. The architects drew inspiration
from the Kremlin and the
Cathedral of the Assumption. Boris Godunov's sister and the wife
of Tsar Fyodor Yvanovich Irina, all the sisters of Peter I consecrated
nuns there. The first wife of Peter I Yeudoxie Lopukhina ended
her life in the nunnery.
The oldest building pictured is the Smolensk (translated as mother
of God) Cathedral (1524-25.) The prototype of this church was
the Moscow Cathedral of the Assumption. Designed by Aristotle
Fioravente, the construction of this monastery church architecturally
demonstrated the importance of Moscow to the State. The imitation
of the Kremlin Cathedral is evident in the similar division of
the walls into vertical sections, in the architecture frieze with
colonnades and in the cathedral's five domes. But this imitation
was only superficial. The exterior of the Cathedral has a more
soaring structure, and the interior pillars are square in plan,
which increases number of the soaring lines. The frescoes and
icons of the 16th and 17th centuries have been preserved to this
Russian architects created a festive ensemble by combining traditional
Russian architecture with some compositional devices of the Moscow
The Convent was part of the defense half-circle outside the city
(Donskoy, Danilov, Simonov, Novospassky and Andronikov Monasteries).
In 1922 the Nunnery was closed. Now it is a museum, but part of
it used as Nunnery.