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The Novodevichy Convent

The Novodevichy Convent
The Novodevichy Convent

The Novodevichy (New Maidens) Convent, the pre-eminent monastery-convent in Moscow throughout its history, was founded in 1524 in honor of the return of Smolensk to Russia in 1514. The Cathedral, named after the icon of the Virgin of Smolensk, was erected in 1525. In form it is very similar to the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin. However, the proportions are slightly different: the full-blown cupolas are closer together and their general appearance is more slender. The most noticeable difference is in the use of a sub-basement or undercroft, a device used in wooden churches and in the Annunciation Cathedral in the Kremlin. This device became widespread in Moscow in the 16th century. Inside the Smolensk Cathedral is a gilded iconostasis by Mikhailov dating from the late 17th century. In the cemetery attached to the Novodevichy Convent, one of the most prestigious in Moscow, lie all the leading writers and artists of the 19th century. It was at the Novodevichy Convent that Boris Godunov sought to retire, and from the steps of Smolensk Cathedral that the people and his agents persuaded him to accept the throne of Russia.

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