Novodevichy Convent

Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery showing heritage architecture

Novodevichy Convent

Enter the hallowed ground in central Moscow where some of Russia’s most respected thinkers are buried.

A tranquil spot in metropolitan Moscow, the Novodevichy Cemetery is the final resting place of many famous Russians. The attached Novodevichy Convent also attracted many of Russia’s elite. These associations, plus its calm surroundings, make it an important spot to visit in Moscow. Pay your respects at the graves of eminent Russian musicians, writers and thinkers.

Tsar Vasily III founded the convent in 1524. His patronage meant the convent usually hosted women from society’s upper echelons. It has been remodeled since this time, largely because of the half-sister of Peter the Great, Regent Sophia. By a twist of fate, she was incarcerated by her half-sibling in the very same building. The convent is also remembered for surviving Napoleon’s invasion due to the ingenuity of its nuns. Read Tolstoy’s War and Peace to see a mention of the convent as well. The cemetery’s history parallels the convent’s. Many prominent Muscovites have been interred here since its inception.

Upon entering, see the Gate-Church of the Transfiguration. This noble red-and-white edifice is an impressive sight. Inside, view the Cathedral of the Virgin of Smolensk, which was built in a style dubbed the “Moscow Baroque.” Its full domes protrude over the walls surrounding the site.

Inside, view many 16th- and 17th-century religious artworks, including a multi-level iconostasis and lavish frescoes by artist Dmitry Grigorev. Inspect the massive 236-foot (72-meter) belfry to admire its intricate design. In the convent area, see exhibits ranging from religious art to precious stones.

Visit the cemetery to see graves of famous Russians. Esteemed author and playwright Anton Chekhov, dramatist Konstantin Stanislavsky and composer Sergei Prokofiev are buried here. Russian politician Nikita Khruschev’s grave may be the most intriguing. Khruschev was a controversial figure and was buried in the cemetery because he was not allowed burial at the Kremlin Wall. Monochrome decorations around his burial site symbolize his positive and negative traits, providing a thought-provoking experience.

Reach the Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery via the Sportivnaya metro station. Both are convent and cemetery are open daily; however, the convent closes on the last Monday of each month. The cemetery, churches and exhibits have entry fees.

Popular places to visit in Novodevichy Convent