I love fall and all it's festivities: Michigan football, the changing leaves, cider mills and homemade doughnuts, the scent of the fresh chilled air, boots and sweaters...the thought that perhaps I'd missed it completely was a bit much. I haven't been granted the gift of football (it's still on at 3:30 am) or cider mills, but Moscow did give me a taste of the season I so dearly love this week. I seized the opportunity for some time outdoors and spent a considerable amount of my Autumn (by which I mean one late afternoon/evening) at one of the sights on my Moscow Bucket List...Novodevichy Monastery.
Founded in 1524, Novodevichy is now an official World Heritage sight and has some pretty stunning scenery to add to its equally fascinating history. Tolstoy fans will have read references to it in both War and Peace and Anna Karenina as the happening skating rink of the 19th century was located in the meadow directly in front of the convent.
Novodevichy became the home and shelter for several women of the Russian royals, though not by choice. Sophia Alekseyevna, regent and ruler of Russia for 7 years (while her brothers who were the official rulers came of age), commissioned the octagon bell tower pictured below in addition to overseeing a serious renovation of the convent in the 1680's. I won't get into the details of her fascinating and terrifying history but, for the opera lovers out there, her rule is the historical foundation for the plot of Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina. After her brother Peter took over (her political opposition), she was forced to take the veil and lived in Novodevichy, completely isolated save for Easter day.
I love the views within the convent, and the museums are definitely worth a vist, but my favorite? The stroll alongside the pond, complete with some fall foliage, sunshine, and...as always...people watching!