Novodevichy Convent & Cemetery comprise one of Moscow’s most beautiful attractions. Also known as the New Maiden’s Convent, the convent may be best known as the place where Peter the Great imprisoned his half-sister Sofia after deposing her and taking over as tsar of Russia. He later confined his first wife to the convent as well. Originally built as a fortress in 1524 to commemorate the conquest of Smolensk, the convent features 12 battle towers. Most of the current buildings, however, date to the late 17th century, when the convent was substantially rebuilt.
The largest and most important church in the convent is the five-domed Cathedral of the Virgin of Smolensk. It was finished in 1525 and contains impressive icons dating to the 16th and 17th centuries. Almost as impressive as the Cathedral is the red and white Church of the Assumption, built in 1680.
The Novodevichy Cemetery sits adjacent to the convent and is one of the most prestigious resting places in all of Russia – as well as the third most popular tourist destination. Over 27,000 people are buried there, including Russian and Soviet notables such as writers Anton Chekhov and Nikolai Gogol, poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, former Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev and former Russian president Boris Yeltsin.
For those interested in locating particular graves, a map is available at the entrance.
The Novodevichy Convent & Cemetery are located along the Moskva River, just a few blocks from the Sportivnaya Metro station. Admission for the grounds is free.