EXPOSITION IN THE SOUTH ANNEXClose
The exposition in the South annex of the Archangel Cathedral is devoted to one of the most ancient convents of Moscow. The Ascension Monastery, highly esteemed in Russia, was founded by Grand Princess Eudokia, the wife of Grand Prince Dmitry Donskoy. The white stone cathedral, built by her order, was consecrated in honor of the Ascension of Christ. It is known that Eudokia took the veil there under the name of Euphrosyne and was buried in the Cathedral after her death. From that time the Ascension Cathedral became a burial place for Grand Duchesses and Tsarinas and for over three centuries it had served as the largest Kremlin necropolis for the female members of the families of Grand Princes and Tsars. Such Russian female sovereigns as Sophia Vitovtovna (the wife of Grand Prince Vasily I), Sophia Palaiologina (the wife of Tzar Ivan III), Anastasia Romanovna (the first wife of Tzar Ivan the Terrible), Irina Godunova (the wife of Tsar Feodor Ioannovich), Natalia Kirillovna (the mother of Emperor Peter I), and others were buried in the convent’s cathedral.
The Ascension Convent was located near the Spasskaya (Saviour) tower of the Moscow Kremlin. For many centuries, the cloister had been suffering from fires, invasions and devastations together with the Kremlin. It was rebuilt several times. The monastery had always been under a special patronage of the Russian sovereigns.
Revolutionary events of 1917 changed the destiny of the Ascension convent. It was closed in 1918 when the Soviet government moved to the Kremlin. In 1929, the Government Committee resolved to demolish the Ascension Convent as well as the Chudov Monastery and the Small Nicholas Palace, which was situated near them. Their territory was planned to be occupied by the Military School of All-Russian Central Executive Committee. Museum specialists and leading architects made attempts to preserve the historical monuments, but unfortunately, the two convents and the palace were destroyed. The Moscow Kremlin Museum employees and other specialists undertook heroic effort to save precious icons and liturgical objects from destruction, to carry out the research and photo fixation of the burial places and perform measurements of the buildings. The tombs of Grand Duchesses and Tsarinas were transferred to the underground chamber under the south annex of the Archangel Cathedral.
The exposition acquaints with the monastery churches, their decorations and everyday life. On display are icons and liturgical objects from the Ascension Convent, including icons from the grand six-tier iconostasis of the monastery’s cathedral, created around 1679, as well as the altar cross, executed with the restoration of the Kremlin after the war of 1812.
As an evidence of a profound veneration, Russian sovereigns and noble families made valuable donations to the Ascension Convent. Precious podea to the honored icon of Hodegetria is a contribution of Duchess Domnika Mikhailovna Mstislavskaya, while the embroidered podea of Our Lady Fyodorovskaya from the 1630s was donated by nun Martha, the mother of the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty.
Nuns’ vestments are presented at the exposition as well. There were more than 160 nuns and lay sisters in the monastery in the 17th century and more than 200 - at the beginning of the 20th century, spending their days in prayer and obedience. The leather belt with the embossed images of the Great Feasts on it, belonging to Venerable Euphrosyne, was made in the beginning of the 15th century and is the most valuable relic.
The creation of this exhibition, reconstructing the historical image of the famous Ascension Convent, became possible thanks to a long-term restoration and research work of the Moscow Kremlin Museums’ scientists. The specialists managed to preserve the saved treasures of one of the most distinguished Russian convents, the history of which is inseparably linked to the history of both Moscow and Russia.
For more info on ticket prices and admission please visit the www.kreml.ru portal.
New exposition devoted to the destroyed Ascension Convent
Convent near the Spasskaya Tower
English subtitles available.