see + do
Novodevichy Monastery, Moscow
Tel: 7 499 246 5607
Concierge.com's insider take:
Staying sane in rough-and-tumble Moscow means knowing where to find the city's oases. Novodevichy Monastery is one of them. Despite the name, it's actually a convent (the same word is used for both in Russian), located on the southern edge of central Moscow, near the Moskva River. Founded in the 16th century, this is where Peter the Great incarcerated his wife and sister. In the 1920s, it was shut down and became a branch of the State History Museum, but it now functions in both capacities. It's worth visiting just to walk around the grounds and take in the turreted walls, cathedrals, and huge bell tower. (Remember: The nuns speak very quietly, so you should, too.) The museum exhibits religious art, and an exceptionally orderly souvenir shop is run in the basement of one of the cathedrals. Around the corner from the monastery gate, there's an entrance to the Novodevichy Cemetery, where Anton Chekhov, Nikolay Gogol, Nikita Khrushchev, and most recently Boris Yeltsin and Mstislav Rostropovich are all buried. The tombs themselves are a sight to behold: Military commanders' feature sculpted tanks or missiles; departed ballerinas' are carved out in pensive tutued poses. A large duck pond just outside another wall of the monastery is the perfect place for reflection.
The museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays 10 am to 5:30 pm; the ticket offices close at 5 pm. Closed Tuesdays and the last Monday of every month.