Novodevichy Convent (new virgin) is one of the most outstanding in Moscow. It was founded at the beginning of the 16th century by Vladimir III, so as to commemorate the liberation of Smolensk.
The oldest building is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk (mid 16th century). It was painted during the reign of Boris Godunov. At the same period the convent was fortified. Located in the South West of Moscow it was supposed to protect the city.
Rebuilt in the 16th century by Tsar Michael I, the convent became the place of worship for the tsar family under Alexis I (his son).
It then extended and new monuments were built such as a five-storey 72 meters high campanile, various churches: Dormition, Transfiguration and Intercession, all built in Russian Baroque style.
The convent is famous for “welcoming” many women from Russian aristocracy and boyar clans who were forced to take orders, but throughout its history it also hosted an orphanage for girls born of adultery, a penitentiary for women of Moscow’s Province and a branch of the State historic Museum. Since 1964, it is the residence of the metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna.
It is also famous for its cemetery that is divided into two parts.
Returned to the Church in 1994, it was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2004.