21 September, 2016
This peaceful place can be reached by taking the metro to Proletarskaya. From there it’s a short walk through a Soviet neighbourhood over the 3rd Krutitsky Pereulok. If you head towards the Moscow River, on the right you see the white stone walls and the bell tower of the Novospassky Monastery – Новоспасский монастырь. It is the oldest monastery in Moscow, first built in the 13th century.
The monastery was moved to the Kremlin for a certain period and than back to its original site in 1491. It was then when the Monastery got its name “New Saviour”. There is not much left of the first years of the monastery. Most of what we see nowadays – the tower and the thick walls, which should protect the monastery against southern approaches to the city – was built in the 17th century. The style of the monastery might be called high Moscow baroque.
In 2013, in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, a 16’000-kilogram bell was cast for the bell tower. That is not the only monument dedicated to the Romanovs. A special monument was built, which depicts Mikhail Fyodorovich and Nicholas II. The first and last Romanov tsars. It is located on the right of the bell tower. The Novospassky Monastery has been closely related with the Romanovs. The family members used to come here for spiritual and physical renewal. Many members of the legendary family were buried under the cathedral. When the NKVD – precursor of the KGB – took over the monastery in 1920, many graves were destroyed.
If you leave the church and walk a few steps across the peaceful landscape you get to a point where three churches meet. Behind this place is a closed, so called Italian courtyard. The peaceful atmosphere at the place was not always the same. In the 1920s it was a place where executions took place. Even nowadays you still find the bullet holes in the wall, reminding visitors of these horrible events. Another spot to visit is the monastery’s own small museum, where you can find a section dedicated to the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. He was the uncle of Nicholas II and was assassinated in 1905. The museum exhibits some of his personal possessions.
This, at least nowadays, beautiful and quiet place is definitely worth a visit. It’s an amazing place to experience Russian history and travel back in time.
Matthias Thoeny, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Moscow