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Excursion to Novodevichy Convent of Moscow with private tour guide.
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Smolenskiy cathedral (1524-1525)
A very ancient stone building on the territory of the convent. It has been built during two building seasons. Such rates of construction weren’t rare for Russian architectural practice of that time. Cathedral was consecrated on 28 of July 1525. According to the plan, the cathedral should have become the main, front church of the convent for the divine services during spring and summer period. Attempts to make heat in the church made in the beginning of 20th century were unsuccessful.
Cathedral is unique because it has wall painting of 16-17 centuries created by fresco-secco technique, i.e. on the wet plaster with the further development of details on dry material.
The convent is six-pillar cathedral on the high basement, surrounded from three sides by wide gallery, where initially four side chapel churches were situated. Only two of them have been preserved till our times: churches of saint apostles Prochoros, Timon, Nikanor and Parmenas, whose memory coincides with celebration of Smolenskaya icon, and St. martyr Sofia. In diaconicon of the cathedral there is an altar in honor of Archangel Gabriel, heavenly protector of Basil III.
The main topics of wall painting relating to the end of XVI century are Acathistus to Most Holy Mother of God, and legends about earthly life of Our Lady and about Roman-Lydda icon. In the lunette above the eastern arch there is monumental image of Our Lady Odigitria to whom cathedral is dedicated. Saint warriors-martyrs, right-believing Russian princes and byzantine queens, martyrs and reverend wives are depicted on the pillars of the cathedral.
Icons of festive, Deesis, prophetic and forefather tiers relate to the time of Godunov rule, and also iconostasis templon decorated with ornamental painting. Luxurious gilded frame with 84 columns in a form of vines performed by the masters of State Armory in a technique of “flamboyant” pierced work, was made under Sofia’s rule in 1683-1685. Also, to the 5 rows of Godunov icons there was added passion tier, disassembled in the beginning of XX century during the restauration of the cathedral.
Sovereign tier of iconostasis there are inserted icons of Russian rulers. To the left of royal gates: image of Our Lady Odigitria Smolenskaya – replica of ancient wonder-working icon granted to cloister by its founder Basil III; image of John the Forerunner, heavenly protector of John IV and John V; images of right-believing princes- passion bearers Boris and Gleb – patron saints of Godunov. To the right of royal gates there are icons of God Almighty with falling down before Christ John the Forerunner and apostle Peter – protector of John V and Peter I and Our Lady “Sign” with chosen saints, of the same name with members of the family of the tsar Alexey Michailovich – pray image of princess Sofia Alexeevna.
Iconostasis of south Sofia’s side-chapel was dedicated to the topic of female holiness. Here in Deesis tier masters with the famous Fedor Zubov made a unique replacement, instead of apostles they depicted right-believing princesses and reverend wives. In Sovereign tier there were icons of saint martyrs Sofia and Feodocyia. Temple icon of this tier is saint image of Sofia with daughters – martyr Vera, Nadezhda and Lubov. At present time all icons are in the funds of State history museum.