You can get St. Nicholas convent from the central railway and bus station on bus №123 to the village of Vyazhishchi.
Bus schedule is here
The cloister is located 12 km to the northwest of Novgorod next to a hot spring. According to legend, in the late 14th century, several monks settled here, but the local noble did not want them to be such close neighbors. But getting ill one day he was healed by the icon of St. Nicholas, and gave the land to the monks.
St. Nicholas cloister used to be one of five the grandest and most influential cloisters of the Novgorod region, being given lands and other gifts from the Czars, nobles, and the Novgorodians themselves. The archbishop Euthimius made the cloister especially authoritative. The ruler received the tonsure in this very convent, and then lived in there for several years, contributing to it in any way possible. At that time a stone St. Nickolas temple (1436) was built and painted, replacing an old wooden one, as well as a new stone refectory church of St. Ioann the Divine (1439). These days there is the Cathedral of St. Nicholas the Wonder-Worker (1685), and the refectory church of Ioann the Divine (1698), built by Volga masters from Yaroslav, Kostroma, etc. For this reason the appearance of the temples is not typical for Novgorod architecture style, although it is no less excellent. The temples are decorated with colored decorative tiles, apparently made in Valday.
The building is unique also because, in essence, it is not a complex of two temples but one of four, located above each other. In the refectory church of Ioann the Divine, there is the church of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the top level. In St. Nicholas Cathedral, St. Euthimius Church is on the ground level and the church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker is right above it.
The cloister got the most prosperous in the 15th - 16th cc., when it held land up to 2000 hectares (about 5000 acres). In 1764, by the order of Ekaterina the Second, all the lands of the cloister were turned over to the government. In 1920, the cloister was closed, and its buildings were used by a local collective farm. There were a lot of new doors and windows, made in the walls, as well as entrances for large machinery. The buildings of the convent were irreparably damaged during the World War II.
In 1964, the cloister was returned to the Church, and, in 1990, it was blessed and became a convent: some nuns of the convent in the place of Pyukhtitsy (Estonia) moved in here. In October 1995, by the edict of the patriarch and the synod (the religious governing council), St. Nicholas Convent in the place of Vyazhishchi was given the status of a stauropegial one (subject directly to the primate, the highest bishop in the region).