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Ivanovsky Convent, Russia

Experienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyager Joshua Brook
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Situated in the Ukranian quarter of the city, visitors will find the dauntingly high walls, crenellated bell towers and brick cupolas of the Ivanovsky Convent, founded in the 16th century as a depository for unwanted wives and daughters and a prison for Moscow's noblewomen. Amongst those detained within the convent's walls during its long history were the notorious Countess Dariya Saltykova, incarcerated for torturing and murdering 139 of her own serfs, and the tragic Princess Tarakanova. The Princess, who became known as Sister Inokeniya Dosieeya, was the illegitimate child of Empress Elizabeth and Count Razumovsky. On being sent abroad to be educated, a Polish adventuress emerged and tried to claim her identity and her right to inherit the throne. The impostor was revealed and imprisoned, but Empress Catherine the Great thought it best to lure Tarakanova back to the country and confine her to a nunnery for the good of Russia and her own line of inheritance. To this task she entrusted her favorite lover, Count Orlov, who seduced the young heiress aboard a ship before locking her in her cabin and ensuring her return to Russia. Although one version of the story insists that the unlucky princess was imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress and drowned during a flood, she was in fact brought to the Ivanovsky Convent and confined there for 25 years until Catherine's death, whereupon she had come to accept her fate and chose to stay.

During Soviet times the convent was abandoned and the complex turned into a police training school. Today it has been returned to the Orthodox Church and is slowly being restored with the aim of turning it back eventually into a working convent. More info on: www.moscow-taxi.com

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