My travels to Russia in 2014 – part 2
For my second day in Moscow I was going to visit the Novodevichy Convent. This convent remained virtually intact since the 17th century and so in 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The convent was founded in 1524 by Grand Duke Vasily III to celebrate the recapture of Smolensk from the Lithuanians.
The convent was built as a fortress at a curve of the Moskva River.
The oldest structure in the convent is the six-pillared five-domed cathedral, dedicated to the icon Our Lady of Smolensk.
Extant documents date its construction to 1524–1525. Most scholars agree that the cathedral was rebuilt in the 1550s or 1560s.
In 1922, the Bolsheviks closed down the convent but the nuns returned in 1994.
The domes were added a century after the cathedral construction.
In 1812, Napoleon’s army made an attempt to blow up the convent, but the nuns saved the convent from destruction.
Other buildings of note includes the red and white Church of the Assumption and the neighboring refectory, the soaring bell-tower and the north and south gate churches.
The bell-tower was built to a height of 72 metres (236 ft), making it the tallest structure in 18th-century Moscow (after the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the Kremlin).
The convent is also famous for its cemetery, which is the final resting place for a number of Russian cultural and political figures, including Chekhov and Shostakovich.
The cemetery was designed by Ivan Mashkov and inaugurated in 1898.
Famous Russians buried here includes Borris Yeltsin (1931-2007). The first post Soviet era president.
Boris Yeltsin was the first freely elected President of Russia serving 1991 to 1999. He voluntarily resigned from the post in 1999, leaving the job to Putin.
After visting the convent and the cemetery I went for a walk in the park outside the convent. It was a clear sunny day but the lake was still frozen from the winter.
After my sightseeing I was scheduled to meet president Putin for the second round of talks in the peace confernece that I was hosting over the Ukraine crisis. After the poor start to my first meeting with the president in which he poured a jug of water over me, I decided that I need to be more diplomatic for the second round of talks. Before I flew out to Russia, my auntie gave me a tin of homemade cookies. Mmmmm….. so what if I give president Putin the homemade cookies? Maybe he would more opening with peace discussions.
So anyway, I arrived at the Kremlin (via the back door) and the peace talks began. Putin was very impressed by my auntie’s homemade cookies and he offered me a vodka. We began talking on the serious matter at hand that is the Ukraine and the Crimea crisis. President Putin said that he was not going to change his stance to a cuddly toy negotiator. Oh well…. maybe better success tomorrow with the peace talks.
To be continued….
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