Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thursday May 12 Gate 1 Day 4 Moscow

DAY 4, Thursday - Day at Leisure in Moscow

Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We took the optional tour to the convent and cemetery.
Moscow Novodevichy Convent (AM)
The Novodevichy Convent was founded in 1524 to celebrate the taking of Smolensk from Lithuania, an important step in Moscow’s conquest of the old Kyivan Rus lands. From early on, noblewomen would retire to the convent, some more willingly than others. Novodevichy was rebuilt by Peter the Great’s half-sister Sofia, who used it as a second residence when she ruled Russia as regent in the 1680s. By this time the convent was a major landowner: it had 36 villages and about 10,000 serfs around Russia. When Peter was 17, he deposed Sofia and confined her to Novodevichy; in 1698 she was imprisoned here for life after being implicated in the Streltsy rebellion. (Legend has it that Peter had some of her supporters hanged outside her window to remind her not to meddle.) Sofia was joined in her enforced retirement by Yevdokia Lopukhina, Peter’s first wife, whom he considered a nag. You enter the convent through the red-and-white Moscow-baroque Transfiguration Gate-Church, built in the north wall between 1687 and 1689. The first building on the left, after the ticket office, contains a room for temporary exhibitions. Yevdokia Lopukhina lived in the Lopukhina Building against the north wall, while Sofia probably lived in the chambers adjoining the Pond Tower. The oldest and most dominant building in the grounds is the white Smolensk Cathedral, modelled in 1524–25 on the Kremlin’s Assumption Cathedral. It was closed at the time of research, but the sumptuous interior is covered in 16th-century frescoes. The huge iconostasis, donated by Sofia, has some more icons from the time of Boris Godunov. The tombs of Sofia, a couple of her sisters and Yevdokia Lopukhina are in the south nave. The bell tower against the convent’s east wall was completed in 1690 and is generally regarded as the finest in Moscow. Other churches on the grounds include the red-and-white Assumption Church, dating from 1685 to 1687, and the 16th-century St Ambrose’s Church. Boris Godunov’s sister, Irina, lived in the building adjoining the latter church. Today, Irina’s Chambers hold a permanent exhibit of 16th- and 17th-century religious artwork such as icons and embroidery.

Most of the churches were closed on our visit. Our guide, was very funny and he said that it was easier to get into these churches to visit before the nuns were running them.

For me the highlight was the cemetery. These were the most ornate and artistic gravestones I have ever seen.

Novodevichy Cemetery (Новодевичье кла́дбище) is the Moscow's third most popular tourist site. It has a park-like ambience, dotted with small chapels and large sculpted monuments. The cemetery was built next to the Novodevichy Convent immediately upon the convent's completion.
The cemetery was first used primarily as a burial place for Moscow's feudal rulers and church officials. Later it came to be used for Russia's intellectuals and merchants, while in the 20th century, it was the burial place for many of the Soviet Union's most well-known citizens. Today, the cemetery holds the tombs of Russian authors, playwrights, and poets, as well as famous actors, political leaders, and scientists. More than 27,000 are buried at Novodevichy.
Some of the famous Russians buried there are:
  • Nadezhda Alliluyeva-Stalin, (1902–1932), "First Lady" of the Soviet Union
  • Pavel Belyayev, (1925–1970), cosmonaut
  • Georgi Beregovoi, (1921–1995), cosmonaut
  • Sergei Bondarchuk, (1920–1994), actor/director
  • Boris Bruinov, (1922–1997), actor
  • Valery Bryusov, (1873–1924), writer
  • Mikhail Bulgakov, (1881–1940), playwright and author
  • Nikolai Bulganin, (1895–1975), statesman
  • Anton Chekhov, (1860–1904), writer
  • Georgi Chicherin (1872–1936), statesman
  • Fyodor Chaliapin, (1873–1938), opera singer
  • Ilya Ehrenburg, (1891–1967), writer
  • Alexander Fadeyev, (1901–1956), writer
  • Nikolai Gogol, (1809–1852), writer
  • Raisa Gorbachev, (1932–1999), "First Lady" of the Soviet Union
  • Nikita Khrushchev, (1894–1971), statesman
  • Peter Kropotkin, (1842–1921), Russia's foremost anarchist
  • Alexander Lebed, (1950–2002), soldier and politician
  • Lev Davidovich Landau, (1908–1968), Nobel laureate in Physics
  • Isaac Levitan, (1860–1900), painter
  • Vladimir Mayakovsky, (1893–1930), poet
  • Vyacheslav Molotov, (1890–1986), politician
  • Nikolai Ogaryov, (1813–1877), writer/poet
  • David Oistrakh, (1908–1974), violin virtuoso
  • Aleksandr Oparin, (1894–1980), scientist
  • Boris Polevoy, (1908–1981), writer
  • Sergei Prokofiev, (1891–1953), composer
  • Valentin Serov, (1865–1911), writer and artist
  • Dmitri Shostakovich, (1906–1975), composer
  • Vasily Shukshin, (1929–1974), writer, actor
Yeltsin's grave - by far the ugliest

 Homage to a soccer player

 A beloved member of the circus with his dog
 The show will go on

 Fyodor Chaliapin, (1873–1938), opera singer

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