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Simonov Monastery (Moscow)

Simonov Monastery (Russian: Симонов монастырь), also Simonov Uspensky Monastery, was a monastery founded on the southern edge of Moscow, Russia in the fourteenth century. It was largely demolished in the 1920s by the Soviet government, but during the early twenty-first century the Russian government announced a program to re-build it.


Simonov Monastery was established in 1370 by the monk Fyodor, who was a nephew and disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh. The monastery was founded on land that belonged to Simeon Khovrin, a boyar of Greek descent and progenitor of the clan of Golovins. Simeon took monastic vows at the monastery under the name Simon, from whence came the name of the monastery. Many of his descendants are also buried there. Also, the bodies of the warriors killed in the Battle of Kulikovo were buried at the monastery and are still commemorated by the old Simonov church.

In 1379, the monastery was moved a half mile to the east and, by the fifteenth century, it had become the richest in Moscow. As Simonov was built in the area south of Moscow, the monastery formed part of the defenses of Moscow. Thus, it became heavily fortified by the mid seventeenth century. Simonov monastery resisted many sieges before being sacked by the Poles during the Time of Troubles in the early seventeenth century. However, the monastery was restored and made even stronger as it became "Moscow's Sentinel".

In 1405, a white stone cathedral was built which later was enlarged by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. The turreted stone southern walls were added in the 1640s and a richly decorated refectory on a high substructure was built during 1677 to 1680 by the architects I. Potapov and O. Startsev. The last major addition to the monastery complex was a huge multi-storied bell-tower, modeled after the Ivan the Great Bell Tower of the Moscow Kremlin.

In the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries the monastery enjoyed the patronage of Prince Dmitri Donskoy and his sons. Also, many learned monks lived and worked at the Simonov monastery including Vassian Patrikeyev, a student of Nil Sorsky, and Maximus the Greek. Following the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917, Simonov Monastery was closed in 1923. Soon after, many of the building of the monastery were demolished to make way of the construction of an automobile factory and for a football stadium and palace of culture. However, the turreted stone southern walls and decorated refectory of the seventeenth century were preserved. Recently, plans for re-building Simonov Monastery have been announced by the Russian government.