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If you visit only one holy site in Moscow, make it this one. The convent, founded in 1524, became, over ensuing eras, a carefully arranged complex of churches in a variety of architectural styles. The stark white walls and gold-trimmed green domes of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk complement the deep red of the Gate Church of the Intercession, the two main churches in the complex. The fortress-like walls surrounding the convent reflect one of its key early purposes: to sequester daughters, sisters, and wayward wives of the nobility. Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great sent their female foes here, which meant the convent enjoyed generous funding from the Kremlin. Today that disturbing page in the convent's history is largely forgotten. It is a haven of tranquillity, its adjoining pond and shaded paths a world away from the crowded rush of the rest of town. Don't miss the cemetery down the hill behind the convent. Considered Moscow's most prestigious burial site since the 18th century, it bears the unique and artful gravestones of many of Russia's literary, musical, and scientific heroes -- and more recently, modern Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin. Pick up a map at the entrance to locate the graves of writers Anton Chekhov, Nikolai Gogol, and Mikhail Bulgakov; composer Dmitry Shostakovich; filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein; and Nikita Khrushchev, the only Soviet leader not buried at the Kremlin wall (because he died in disgrace instead of in office). Mikhail Gorbachev will likely choose Novodevichy as his resting place; his wife Raisa is already here. Note also the curious grave-top monuments, such as a tank (for a World War II commander), a telephone (for a communications minister), and the tragicomic statue of circus clown Yuri Nikulin. The cemetery is a bit of a walk from the nearest metro station through an otherwise unremarkable neighborhood. Reserve this trip for a good-weather day, and allow 2 or 3 hours.