Thursday, October 16, 2008

At Novodevichy Cemetery, the Ordinary Trumps the Grand

Raisa Gorbachov Monument at Novodevichy Cemetery with Columbarium niches in background
Novodevichy Convent

Novodevichy Cemetery (Новодевичье кла́дбище) is Moscow's third most popular tourist site. It has a park-like ambience, dotted with small chapels and large sculpted monuments. The cemetery was built next to the Novodevichy Convent immediately upon the convent's completion.
The cemetery was first used primarily as a burial place for Moscow's feudal rulers and church officials. Later it came to be used for Russia's intellectuals and merchants, while in the 20th century, it was the burial place for many of the Soviet Union's most well-known citizens. Today, the cemetery holds the tombs of Russian authors, playwrights, and poets, as well as famous actors, political leaders, and scientists. More than 27,000 are buried at Novodevichy. -from

Nikita Kruschev monument at Nvodevichy cemetery in Moscow
The Grave of Nikita Kruschev "We will Bury You!"

While the monuments of the famous and powerful provide a wonderful history and art lesson, these photos of the niches of lesser known Russians, taken by Dedushka Nomto at Novodevichy Columbarium, are quite striking as well. The changes brought about by time and the elements give these portraits the haunting quality of distant memories. Perhaps this documentation of ordinary life can teach us more important lessons than the broad sweep of history.

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