Don Monastery

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Don Monastery


located in Moscow. Founded in 1591 on the campsite of Russian armies that had come forth to meet the armies of the Crimean khan Kazy-Girei, which were advancing on Moscow. The Tatars withdrew without giving battle, and they were crushed during the retreat. To commemorate the deliverance from the Tatars, the foundation of the Don Monastery was laid on the spot where the field church with the icon of the Virgin Mary of the Don had been located. According to legend, Dmitrii Donskoi had taken this icon with him in 1380 to the battle of Kulikovo.

As described in an inventory of 1739, the Don Monastery was a very large serf-owning estate, possessing 6,716 peasant souls and a great deal of land. Between the late 16th and the mid-18th century, the remarkable architectural ensemble of the Don Monastery developed gradually. The monastery stood on a square area. The columnless Small Cathedral (1591-93) was roofed with a groined vault. It had a single cupola, a refectory (1678), and a tent-shaped bell tower (1679). The Great Cathedral had five cupolas, a quatrefoil ground plan, and an encircling gallery (1684-93). The iconostasis was built between 1693 and 1699 by Moscow craftsmen, and the murals were painted in 1782, based on drawings by V. I. Bazhenov. The Tikhvin Church, built over the gateway between 1713 and 1714, is attributed to I. P. Zarudnyi, and the bell tower on the western gate was completed in 1753 by the architect A. P. Evlashev. The Church of the Archangel Michael (1809), which contains the burial vault of the Golitsyn family, is ascribed to I. V. Egotov and includes a collection of tombstones executed by I. P. Martos, F. G. Gordeev, and V. I. Demut-Malinovskii. There are also ruins of buildings and a cemetery with the graves of historical and cultural figures. The brick walls with white stone details and eight square and four round towers were erected between 1686 and 1711.

In the southeastern part of the Don Monastery there is a cemetery dating from the late 17th century, containing the graves of participants in the Patriotic War of 1812, some of the Decembrists (for example, V. P. Zubkov), and various Russian cultural figures (M. M. Kheraskov, A. P. Sumarokov, P. la. Chaadaev, A. S. Pushkin’s uncle, the poet V. L. Pushkin, V. F. Odoevskii, the architect O. I. Bove, the artist V. G. Perov, the historian V. O. Kliuchevskii, and the founder of Russian aviation, N. E. Zhukovskii). After the October Revolution an antireligious museum was established in the Don Monastery. Since 1934 it has housed the Museum of Architecture of the Academy of Architecture of the USSR, and since 1964 it has included a branch of the A. V. Shchusev Scientific Research Museum of Architecture.


Nauchno-issledovatel’skii muzei arkhitektury. Moscow, 1962. [A guidebook.]
Arenkova, Lu. I., and G. I. Mekhova. Donskoi Monastyr’. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.