Donskoi Monastery, Moscow – 24 years on


Donskoi: the monastery cathedral under reconstruction, 1987


The monastery cathedral restored, 2011


In the cemetery, Donskoi, 2011



In 1987 this was one of my favourite haunts. The cemetery behind the cathedral was extremely overgrown and atmospheric, with huge sculptures of Biblical figures looming out of the walls at the far end.  The cathedral itself was inaccessible, being ‘under reconstruction’. My children were intrigued by a little Alice-in-Wonderland-type door in one of the buildings.

When I was in Moscow in 2011 I went to see what state the place was in so many years later.  It’s an enjoyable walk from the Shabolovskaya Metro station, along leafy streets lined with market stalls at the weekend, laden with all sorts of lovely-looking produce – fruit, vegetables, cheeses, confectionery… Then the high walls surrounding the monastery appear and you have to follow them around for some distance till you reach the entrance, with the now completely renovated cathedral appearing before you.  I was glad to find that the creepy cemetery had not been too tidied up.

I was surprised to discover, when looking up information about Donskoi recently, that the grave of Alexander Solzhenitsyn is there. I must have walked round the opposite side of the cathedral and missed it. He was buried there in 2008 – here’s a news cutting about it. I also found on the net a very impressive virtual tour of the monastery, including the cathedral interior and the cemetery.


Thomas & Bryony at Donskoi, 1987


The little door, 2011


Thomas & Bryony at Donskoi, 1987

2 Responses to Donskoi Monastery, Moscow – 24 years on
  1. John Plant
    February 18, 2015 | 4:10 pm

    This is lovely, Pamela! We may never return to Russia, so it’s a particular pleasure to see it through your eyes.

    • Pamela
      March 17, 2015 | 1:43 pm

      Thank you John! As you see, I am as captivated by Russia as ever. I hope to go again later this year. Meanwhile, there has been lots of Russian culture on offer in London. This evening I am going to the Royal Ballet’s ‘Swan Lake’, streamed live from Covent Garden to my local cinema. I hope it will be better than that ‘Mariinsky Light’ performance we saw two years ago!

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