Novodevichy Convent, Moscow
I like this convent very much and since 2005 I have studied backward and forward all its surroundings including the nearest roofs. I made the acquaintance of local inhabitants, fishermen, dogs, photographers and a district policeman. Here they are several results of my shooting.
But I’ve still got a dream to shoot the convent from the air. The latest years we have become the great specialists in helicopter shooting, however, we still haven’t got a success to shoot in Moscow. We tried to contact the pilots of MES’s and police helicopters, different kind of intermediaries: one of them tell us the variety of prices (20 thousand dollars, for instance, for a flight over the convent); another proposed to write a letter to Russian patriarch – but everything was in vain and, finally, we gave up.
But some day the time had come. In the early morning the radio controlled model flew up in the air raising the camera Canon 5D Mark II in the sky. Several shots were made, then it landed and the shooting was over. Everything, we have been trying to do for several years, was done for 10 minutes! And here it is the bird’s eye view for the Novodevichy Convent.
And now a few words about its history. Moscow Novodevichy convent appeared thanks to Vasily III kept his word, his vow. Standing near the walls of Smolensk the prince promised that if he could return the city had conquered by the Lithuanians back in Moscow principality, he would build a new convent. That way, several years later after the end of Russian-Lithuanian War a new cloister appeared at a curve of the Moskva River.
According to the patriarch charter dated 1598 the full name of the convent is New Women’s Convent And Honorable Great Cloister of Pure Virgin Hodegetria which was certainly been cut in a day-to-day reality.
In Moscow that time there were a lot of monasteries and there is an explanation of the word “Novodevichy” (New Women’s). It is an opposite name to several already existing “ancient” women’s convents.
However, having kept his vow, the prince-fighter was little cunning: despite its spiritual mission the convent had also its military mission. Its location allowed controlling the river crossing and playing the role of the convent-guard defending Moscow from the Southern-West side. And it didn’t matter that it was the women’s convent: its powerful fortress walls and towers were the serious obstacles for the conquerors.
Moscow was being defended, surely, not by the nuns: in case of need the strelets detached forces were sent there. So, the cloister is proud of its military exploits: for example, exactly the guns of the Novodevichy convent stopped the river crossing of Crimean khan Kyzy-Girey in 1591.
The convent’s history is full of the most legendary characters of the proper periods: Boris Godunov was elected for the reign here; the most famous women had takings the veil here too including Evdokia Fedorovna Lopukhina who was the first wife of Peter I; here the Tsar incarcerated his sister Sofia.
By the way, nowadays the Naprudnaya Tower, where the mutinous princess was pining, is covered with different kind of inscriptions at a level of human height. People come there with the variety of wishes: from the questions related to the entering a University till the help in taking away a curse.
“Saint Sofia! Help me, please, in the nearest time to become a wife of a man who can make me happy till the end of my life and whom I won’t have a misfortune with”, - this is one of thousands similar inscriptions. An all these began with either an article in a newspaper or a TV-program where was said that Sofia’s tower might have done wishes come true. And although in the convent all the people are given the extract from the church journal where this practice is extremely criticized, the human movement to the tower hasn’t been less.
In the Soviet period inside the convent’s walls the Museum of Emancipated Woman, the day nursery, laundries, gymnastics rooms and other attributes of that time were settled there.
The Novodevichy Convent has been opened again since 1994 and now it is a spiritual, historical and architectural monument and it decorates Devichie field in the capital district named Khamovniki near Luzhniki.
26 May 2011