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Main page / Museums and sightseeing in Veliky Novgorod / Desyatinny Convent of the Nativity of Our Lady
Desyatinny Convent of the Nativity of Our Lady
Desyatinny Convent of the Nativity of Our Lady, Veliky Novgorod

+7 (816 2) 77 42 56
+7 (816 2) 73 60 13


Working hours:
10:00 – 17:30
10:00 a.m. — 5:30 p.m.

Entrance Fee:
вход на территорию монастыря свободный

entrance is free

58.51788300, 31.26534700

According to the chronicles, the convent was established by the bishop Ioakim the Korsunianin in 998. But there are some doubts about it as they say the convent history was connected to the year of 1170 when Novgorod was sieged by troop from Souzdal led by the Prince of Vladimir Andrei the First, commonly known as Andrey Bogolyubsky. At that battle the icon of Our Lady of the Sign (the 12th c.) was placed on the wall of the fortress right at the convent and miraculously protected the city. Be as it might, but in the 14th c. the convent did function. In the Novgorod republic age there were archbishop’s housing, monastic cells and reception rooms and dining halls that proved its high status position at that time.

There are constructions of the 19th – 20th cc. preserved till these days. They house exhibition halls of the State Arts and Culture Museum of Novgorod Land and artists’ studios.

On Desyatinnaya street, in the ancient Lyudin (Goncharsky) end, between Prusskaya and Dobrynya streets the well-proportioned and smart bell tower stands. There is an entrance to the territory of the former Desyatinny Convent through its gate. It is interesting that this convent is the only one of eight existing within the Roundabout city that almost fully conserved its territory, structure and even larger part of the buildings. But, unfortunately, the ancient Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady hasn't survived till our days: just ruins of it are left.

The legends of the convent

The early history of Desyatinny Convent is shrouded in a haze of mystery, there are a lot of guesses and assumptions in it. It is considered that the convent was founded in 1327 when Archbishop Moses erected the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady "on Desyatina" that then would be decorated “with icons and books".

It is not clear why the content got its name. The thing is that term "desyatina" had many meanings in Old Russian language. According to the charter of Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavovich, the tenth of income – "desyatina" (tithe) – was given to the Church. Money that "desyatinniks" took from monasteries and churches for Cathedral of St. Sophia had the same name. Desyatina also stands for prince's estate and most likely it gave name to the convent. The convent that appeared on the former prince's area was called "on Desyatina" and lately – Desyatinny Convent.

A beautiful legend is connected with Desyatinny Convent. There is suggestion that it was founded in the first half of 13th century by princess Feodosiya Mstislavovna – as a nun got name Euphrosyne – mother of Alexander Nevsky, in honour of "miraculous deliverance from the invasion of Suzdal's people".

"They came with a big army to the city… Novgorodians saw a large number of besiegers, lost courage, their powers were exhausted, they grieved much and were embarrassed, not waiting for help – just asked God for mercy and relied on St. bishop's prayers".

Archbishop John heard the voice during the prayer: "Go to the Church of Jesus Christ that is on Ilyinskaya Street, take the icon of Holy Virgin and put it on city walls against enemies; and at once you'll see salvation for the city". The archbishop brought the icon of Our Lady of the sign to the city wall against Desyatinny Convent. One of Suzdal's arrows pierced the icon and once tears flowed down from her eyes. "Enemies were frightened, darkness caught them – and they began to kill each other".

The episode of "invasion" of Suzdal people became favourite in Novgorod stories and the icon of Our Lady of the Sign – the most revered. It is now in Cathedral of St. Sophia and available for viewing and veneration to every visitor of the Cathedral.

Desyatinny Convent was badly damaged during Swedish occupation of Novgorod in 1611 – 1617. There was only half ruined Church of Nativity left after Swedes and other, apparently wooden buildings and fence have vanished.

In 1809 a stone bell tower, crowning the whole complex, was built. It was rebuilt in 1903 and preserved this appearance to the present day.

The church was seriously destroyed while Novgorod was under the occupation during World War II, but it maintained its central volume (the ancient part), roof and the central dome. In the middle of 1950 it was disassembled into bricks by locals.

Nowadays, Desyatinny Convent, having various creative organizations on its territory, is one of cultural centers of Veliky NovgorodThe State Museum of Arts and Culture of Novgorod Land and Porcelain Museum are situated here.

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