The Donskoy Monastery is probably one of the most well known monasteries in Moscow, of which there are far more than I expected. Each surrounded by their own formidable walls, these places of refuge were not only religiously but also politically important.
When you approach the Donskoy Monastery, one of your first thoughts is likely to be about its colour- most of the walls are a shade of pink. You enter through an imposing gate and walk past copper doors, past murals of scenes where various people perform good deeds. Although the structure is now in the heart of Moscow, these pink walls were at one point an important part of the city defences. Well- perhaps not these ones, but the ones that stood here before. With towers that look like the New Maiden’s Convent, the structure has ties to the reign of Boris Gudanov, and was one of the mini-fortresses surrounding Moscow that created one line of strategic defence.
Now, not much of the strategic importance can be sensed. In fact, we were overwhelmed with noise- most of the site was under construction. Nevertheless we were permitted to stroll through the cemetery, which was a popular burial site once Catherine the Great had forbidden burials within the city walls during the time of the plague. These tombstones, the cathedral in Moscow-baroque style and the carefully sculpted art on the far walls (far walls when you enter), were the most beautiful features we were able to see amongst the construction, although the traditionally decorative inside of the church was also notable. I think a visit in spring, and hopefully without construction, might be called for.
More information about the Monastery itself can be found here.