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Novodevichy Convent (New Maiden Convent)

One of the most beautiful Moscow monasteries which otherwise could be called a Kremlin in miniature was founded early XVI the century. The New Maiden Convent was one of the richest because only tsarinas and noble women of the time were sent there sometimes forcefully to become nuns. According to the rules they had to sacrifice to the monastery all their gold, silver and jewelry as well as property.
The monastery became a prison for Sofia, sister of Peter the Great who was trying to usurp the throne in Russia. The same fate expected Peter`s first wife Evdokia, whom he abandoned because of other love. According to the tradition monasteries had cemeteries for their flock. The New Maiden Convent became a burial place for some outstanding people of Russia such as the writers Chekhov A. and Gogol N. In the years of soviet rule it was a privileged cemetery for Communist party leaders, military generals, actors and writers. Danilov Monastery - is the official residence of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Aleksiy the Second. This is the most ancient monastery of Moscow. It was founded by the sacred honourable Prince Daniil Moskovsky, the son of Alexander Nevsky, in 1282. During the time of Soviet rule the territory of Monastery housed the colony of under-aged criminals. Today there are 5 churches and 2 chapels where the religious ceremonies are regularly held.

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

The Cathedral was built with the money collected by the people all over Russia in the 19th century. It had been under construction for about 40 years! And it was destroyed (exploded) by communists at one day of 1932. Today the reconstructed dome of the Saviour Cathedral is clearly seen from many places of Moscow. Soon the works will be completed and the Cathedral will receive its second life.

The Danilov Monastery

Since 1983, the Danilov Monastery has been the official residence of the Russian Patriarch and the headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church. It also holds claim to being the oldest monastery in Moscow, founded in 1282, although its checkered history and current importance give it a quite modern air. The monastery takes its name from its founder, Prince Daniil Aleksandrovich, the youngest son of the great Novogorod ruler Aleksander Nevsky, who was the first prince of the then tiny principality of Moscow from 1276 to 1303. He was canonized in the 17th Century. His son, Ivan I, moved the monastery, its icons and its monks, to the Kremlin in 1330, and it wasn't until the reign of Ivan IV (the Terrible) that the Danilov Monastery became active again, mostly as a defensive structure. The oldest building in the monastery today is the Cathedral of the Holy Fathers, which dates from 1565 and holds the remains of St. Daniil, and icons of him and of Our Lady of Vladimir painted around the time of the church's construction. The Cathedral has a complex structure, divided into several parts, including two chapels and a refectory. The exterior is painted white, with green roofs and gold cupolas. The main church in the monastery, however, is the 1838 Trinity Cathedral, an imposing neoclassical building by Osip Bove, the chief architect of Moscow's reconstruction after the Napoleonic Wars.

The Donskoy Monastery

Founded in 1591 to commemorate Boris Godunov's repulsion of a Tartar invasion under Khan Kazy-Girey, the Donskoy Monastery is one of the most impressively fortified in Moscow, and has had a turbulent and fascinating history. Godunov roused his troops on the eve of battle by parading the icon Our Lady of the Don, which legend claimed had been carried by Dmitry Donskoy at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. When the Tartar forces fled after a brief skirmish, the decision was made to build a church to house the icon on the site and a monastery around it, which would also serve to protect the main highway from Moscow to the Crimea. The original cathedral, now called the Old Cathedral or the Small Cathedral, was completed in 1593, and is a charming example of Moscow Baroque, painted soft red with typical kokoshniki - recessive rows of corbel arches that were a feature of Russian church architecture from the 12th Century - and topped with powder-blue onion domes. It now houses a copy of the icon, the original being on display in the Tretyakov Gallery. The monastery was originally small and poor, and was abandoned altogether in the Time of Troubles after Godunov's death, and became an appendage of the Andronikov Monsatery. During the period it was again the scene of fighting, first when taken by the Polish for a day in 1612, and then when the streltsy defeated Ukranian Cossack forces beneath its walls in 1618. It was not until 1678, in the reign of Feodor III that the monastery regained its independence and began to prosper.

The Andronikov Monastery

This medieval monastery, located on the banks of the Yauza River, contains the oldest surviving church in Moscow, and is perhaps most famous as the home and final resting place of the great 15th Century icon painter, Andrei Rublev, who is commemorated in the Museum of Ancient Russian Art. The Andronikov Monastery was founded in 1357 by Metrapolitan Alexei, and takes its name from its first hegumen (Orthodox abbot), St. Andronik. The Savior Cathedral, which was completed in 1427, became Moscow's oldest stone structure after the destruction of the Savior Cathedral in the Wood in the 1930's. It is a simple but attractive structure of pale brick, with layers of kokoshniki leading up to a green helmet-shaped dome. The interior was originally decorated with frecoes by Andrei Rublev and Daniil Cherniy, but only fragments have survived. Opposite the Savior Cathedral stands the Refectory, a two-storey, tent-roofed structure built under Ivan the Terrible between 1504 and 1506. Joined to it is the Church of the Archangel Michael, which was begun in 1694 as a private chapel for the Lopukhin family. It took nearly forty years to complete after Yevdokiya Lopukhina, first wife of Peter the Great, fell from favor with the Tsar and was banished to a convent. To prevent them causing trouble, Peter had her family exiled to Siberia. This ensemble of buildings was once crowned by a magnificent neoclassical bell tower that, tragically, was destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1929.  The monastery was, from its inception, a centre of book copying in Moscow. An impressive archive of manuscripts was kept there, but most were destroyed, either by fire in 1748 or by Napoleon's troops in 1812. Later in the 19th Century, a theological seminary was established there. After the Revolution, the monastery was swiftly closed, and became for a while one of the first penal colonies of the Vecheka (the forerunner of the KGB). Later it was allocated as housing for workers in a nearby factory. It was only saved from total destruction after World War Two, and was declared a national monument in 1947.

The Novospassky Monastery

The Novospassky - or New Savior - Monastery lays claim to be the oldest in Moscow, and gets its name from the fact that it was originally located inside the Kremlin in the 14th Century and, possibly, before that occupied the sight of the modern Danilov Monastery. The monastery moved to the new site, on the banks of the Moskva, in 1491 on the orders of Ivan the Great.  No structures from that period have survived. The monastery came under the patronage of the Sheremetev and Romanov boyars, and benefited from a complete overhaul when Mikhail Romanov became Tsar in 1612.The bulk of the monastery as it appears today dates from that period, including the mighty fortifications - thick stone walls with seven solid bastions - which took on a more sinister aspect when the site was used as a prison camp in the early years of the Bolshevik government.  The central structure of the monastery, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior, dates from 1645, although in style it is most closely related to much earlier buildings such as the Kremlin Cathedral of the Assumption, on which it was partially modeled, as evidenced by its vast arched gables and helmet-shaped domes. The fine frescoes inside are original, and depict in detail the Romanov genealogical claim to the Tsar's throne, juxtaposing it with the descent of the Kings of Israel. Sadly, they are in chronic need of restoration. Annexed to the cathedral are two later structures, the two-tiered Church of the Veil of the Virgin (1675), which housed the monastery's refectory, and the neoclassical Church of the Sign (1795), which was erected by the Sheremetev family as their private tomb.



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