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Novodevichy Cemetery: the most popular and prestigious cemetery in Moscow

Marija Georgievska

Novodevichy Cemetery is the most prestigious and currently the most famous cemetery in Moscow, Russia. It is adjacent to the Novodevichy Convent which is one of the most popular tourist sites in the country. The cemetery was inaugurated in 1898, and it was designed by Ivan Mashkov.

Its importance was revealed in the 1930s when the old necropolis of the Muscovite monasteries was demolished. In that decade, many great Russians that were buried in other graves were reburied here, such as Sergey Aksakov and Nikolai Gogol.

The tomb of Gogol  Photo Credit

The tomb of Gogol  Photo Credit

 

The grave of the cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev  Photo Credit

The grave of the cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev  Photo Credit

The necropolis from the 19th century in the Novodevichy convent was also reconstructed, and many of the 2, 000 graves of Russian nobleman were destroyed. At that time, the remains of the writer Anton Chekov were removed from the monastery.

According to Wikipedia, his grave served as the kernel of the so-called “Sherry Orchard”-a section of the cemetery which contains the graves of Constantin Stanislavski and the leading actors of his company. During the Soviet time, this cemetery was second-placed than the Kremlin Wall Necropolis, which was more prestigious. The only Soviet leader that was buried at the Novodevichy cemetery at that time was Nikita Khrushchev.

The grave of Anthon Chekov  Photo Credit

The grave of Anthon Chekov  Photo Credit

 

The grave of Nikita Khrushchev   Photo Credit

The grave of Nikita Khrushchev   Photo Credit

 

The wall of the cemetery is used as a columbarium   Photo Credit

The wall of the cemetery is used as a columbarium   Photo Credit

After the fall of the Union, the former necropolis was no longer a burial place, and only the most notable burials were made at the Novodevicky. One of these burials was that of Boris Yeltsin in 2007, and a big Russian flag marks his tomb.

Today, there are over 20, 000 graves at this cemetery, ornamented with beautiful statues, monuments, and various small chapels. It holds the graves of many Russian poets, writers, political leaders, actors, scientists, and philosophers. The cemetery is divided into two sections: the old section which is located on the grounds of the convent, and the new section that is adjoined to the cloister.

The entrance of the cemetery  Photo Credit

The entrance of the cemetery  Photo Credit

 

The grave of Vladimir Mayakovsky  Photo Credit

The grave of Vladimir Mayakovsky  Photo Credit

Other notable Russians who were buried here are the cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev, the author Mikhail Bulgakov, the film director Sergei Eisenstein, Mikhail Gorbachev, the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, the composer Sergei Prokofiev, the filmmaker Dziga Vertov, and many more.

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At the gate of the cemetery, visitors can buy a small map with tomb demarcations, and get an alphabetical list of 200 notable people. Besides the orders of the Soviet government to rebury many famous Russians here, other well-known personalities had their requests to be buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery. The gravestones of these notable people tell many stories which can be revealed by the tour guide of Moskow.