AsiaRussiaNovodevichy Convent In Moscow
Make Way for Ducklings

Novodevichy Convent In Moscow


Novodevichy Convent,the final resting place of some of the country’s most famous figures. In 2004, the ensemble was included in the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites.

This is one of the most amazing architectural monuments in the capital. Its history is connected with significant dramatic events and tragic human destinies. It is surrounded by legends and myths.  

Modeled on the Kremlin, the Novodevichy Convent’s primary function was to defend the city due to its convenient geographical location.  It was part of a series of monasteries that formed a defense belt for Moscow and enjoyed close links with the Kremlin.

The purpose of Novodevichy Convent

For centuries, women of the czar’s family and the nobility took the veil there, including the czar Boris Godunov’s wife Irina, who joined the convent in 1598.

Sofia, the sister of Peter the Great, was forced to become a nun and enprisoned in the convent for 15 years after a coupe attempt. Peter had the bodies of traitors that were conspiring with Sofia hanged outside her cell’s windows, so she could see their rotting bodies every day. Evdokia Lopukhina, the wife of Peter I spend her life in the convent. 

It is an active convent, and nuns continue to live and work there. There are workshops with traditional church crafts: icon painting, gold embroidery, and sewing. The monastery is also a branch of the State Historical Museum and the church museum of the Moscow Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. You can find many photographs, documents, icons, and other objects related to the monastery’s historical personalities in the church museum.

The story, passed from mouth to mouth, tells that if you visit the Naprudnaya Tower of an architectural monument (another name is Sofya’s Tower), then all your wishes will come true.

In this building in 1698, Tsarevna Sophia, the sister of Peter I, who was trying to take his place on the throne, was imprisoned. 

Legend has it that the monastery walls acquired magical power from Sophia’s great suffering. Many people believe it has healing powers, brings luck and happiness. To activate the magical powers, all you have to do is lean against the monastery’s walls and think about your wish.

Mystical pond by Novodevichy Convent in Moscow

The large pond, located near the Novodevichy Convent, is surrounded by more legends and mystery than the convent itself. Peter I personally chopped off the heads of the rebellious anchers. Which made him the first tsar in history who took an ax in his hands. Rumor has it, the souls of the assassinated rebels regularly gather around the pond, looking for their headsman. 

Make Way for Ducklings!” monument. 

 Novodevichy Convent is located next to a small, charming park. This is a whole story that goes back to American children’s literature and Russian-American relations.

What would American fairy tale characters do in a Russian park, you may wonder. In 1941, the famous American children’s writer and illustrator Robert McCloskey wrote his famous story “Make Way for Ducklings!” 

In the center of the story, a duck family flew to Boston (the Beacon Hill area – a prestigious area near State House, according to the illustrations) and tried to settle there.

The book describes the ducks’ adventures as they searched for a safe place for the nest.

In 1991, the Gorbachev couple were on a visit to the United States. Raisa Maksimovna liked the sculptural composition “Make Way for the Ducklings!” in Boston’s Central Park. Barbara Bush decided to donate a copy of the monument to Moscow.

This monument has become one of the symbols of Russian-American dialogue and mutual respect. The copy installed in Moscow is 2 meters bigger than the original (think 12 meters versus 10)!

The world is full of endless wonders, so travel along with me and see it all!