Donskoy Monastery is one of the best surviving examples of a fortified monastery and as it is located a little away from the centre you will find a lot less tourists here than, for example, Novodevichy Convent. The monastery was founded on the order of Tsar Feodor I between 1591 and 1593 on the spot where the Russians were able to repel an invasion by Khan Ğazı II Giray of Crimea in 1591. The victory was also credited to the Our Lady of the Don Icon which subsequently became the main relic of the monastery. During the Times of Troubles the monastery was ransacked by Polish interventionists but later revived under the reigns of Tsar Michael and Alexis. Between 1686 and 1711 fortified walls with 12 towers were built around the monastery. During the Napoleonic War the monastery was once again ransacked, this time by French troops, however the monastery's relics had already been evacuated to Vologda. After the Revolution the monastery was closed and later turned into an Antireligious Museum. Later this museum became an architectural museum - a branch of the Schusev Archaeological Museum and many relics from closed churches and monasteries were transferred here. In 1991 the monastery was reopened.
Ss Zechariah and Elisabeth's Gate-Church
The main entrance to the monastery is served by Ss Zechariah and Elisabeth's Gate-Church which is built into the monastery's western wall. The church was built between 1730 and 1755 and incorporates a bell tower built in the standard the octagon-on-cube form.
Our Lady of the Don Large Cathedral
The monastery's main cathedral is the Our Lady of the Don Large Cathedral. It is called the Large Cathedral or the New Cathedral to distinguish it from the smaller and older cathedral of the same name within the monastery. The Large Cathedral was built between 1684 and 1698 in the Naryshkin Baroque style and has five domes on tall tholobates surrounded by a two-storey gallery. The cathedral's beautiful iconostasis has been preserved which includes a revered copy of the Our Lady of the Don Icon (the original is now held at the State Tretyakov Gallery). The relics of Patriarch Tikhon are also interred inside the cathedral.
Our Lady of the Don Small Cathedral
The Large Cathedral's smaller neighbour is also dedicated to the Our Lady of the Don Icon and so is referred to as the Our Lady of the Don Small Cathedral or the Old Cathedral. The cathedral was built between 1591 and 1593 and is possibly the work of the famous architect Fyodor Kon who was indeed working in Moscow at the time. The cathedral has a single dome the base of which is decorated by rows of kokoshniks. Attached to the main body of the church is a small bell tower.
Archangel Michael's Church
Located in the south-west corner of the monastery among the monks' quarters and the monastery's hospital ward is Archangel Michael's Church. The church dates from 1714 but underwent reconstruction work between 1806 and 1806, which resulted in the church gaining a classical-style façade. The church also serves as the burial vault of the Golitsyn aristocratic family.
St John Chrysostom's Church
In the north of the monastery, standing between the abbot's kitchen and chambers is St John Chrysostom's Church. It was built between 1888 and 1891 in the Neo-Byzantine Style. While the upper storey of the church is dedicated to St John Chrysostom, the lower floor is dedicated to St Catherine. The church also serves as the burial vault of the Pervushin family.
Our Lady of Tikhvin Gate-Church
In the centre of the monastery's northern wall is another gate church, this one dedicated to the Our Lady of Tikhvin Icon. In style it is similar to Ss Zechariah and Elisabeth's Gate-Church with its octagon-on-cube form. It is the older of the two gate-churches, having been built between 1713 and 1714.
Within the walls of the monastery is a necropolis where many famous people have been laid to rest. This includes the painter Vasili Perov, the historians Mikhail Scherbatov and Vasili Klyuchevsky, the White-Army general Anton Denikin (who was transferred here in 2005), the architect Osip Bove and the mass-murdering noblewoman Daria Saltykova. Representatives of noble Russian families such as the Vyazemsky, Golitsyn and Dolgoruky families as well as relatives of Aleksandr Pushkin, are also buried here. More recently the writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was buried here. It is not just people that end up here, at the back of the monastery reliefs of the original Christ the Saviour Cathedral have also been brought here.
|Location||1 Donskaya Ploschad|