Donskoy Monastery was founded by Tsar Feodor I between 1591 and 1593 in honor of the “Virgin of the Don” icon. This icon is credited with saving Moscow from the Tatar invasion.
A cathedral was built in the site of a former wooden church so as to receive it. Another one was erected at the end of the 16th century, named Grand Cathedral in opposition to the other smaller one.
From the 17h century on, the graveyard in the monastery became a burial place for important personalities of Russian society. By the end of the 18th century, Donskoy Monastery had become one of the richest and most influential monasteries in Russia.
It was shut down during the Soviet era. The monastery became an atheism museum until 1934 and then an architecture museum. Since 1991 Donskoy Monastery has resumed its primary function.