Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Novodevichy Cemetery

Novodevichiy pr-d, Moskva, Russia, 119435
I get it, cemeteries aren't the most attractive places to go on a vacation, but bare with me while I try to convince you to add Novodevichy Cemetery to your list. Moscow is known for its monuments, and Novodevichy Cemetery is no exception. Every inch of the grounds is covered in some unique statue or gravestone. On our last trip to Moscow I tried to persuade A to go with me, even going so far as to say we could split up for a while and do separate things because I was dying to go to this cemetery. I was unsuccessful which left me really irritated. I'm pretty laid back when it comes to decisions because I hate making them and I honestly am happy doing whatever. When I do want to do something I really want to do it, so I was really bummed that we didn't go.
A few years ago, on my birthday, I went to Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. I'm the sort of person who likes scavenger hunts or trying to figure things out. I had fun trying find various headstones and places of interest in the cemetery. It's probably why my hobbies are looking for abandoned places online and Facebook stalking. (Seriously, give me a name and I can probably find the information of that person your looking for.) Novodevichy Cemetery was similar to Lake View Cemetery. Anyone who is anyone in Moscow is buried here including writers, presidents, and cosmonauts. Hint: You don't need a guide to go through the cemetery unless you want a more detailed visit. At the entrance there is a map and list of all the famous people buried in the cemetery. Everything is written in Russian, so I recommended you learn the alphabet before you go. You'll be able to sound out names just knowing the alphabet. Believe me, knowing the alphabet is how I survive in Russia.
I'm really interested in history, so I was more interested in finding the tombs of former leaders of the USSR and Russia. It was fun trying to find all these tombs because they are all over the grounds, not in one place. The photo below is the tomb of Nikita Khrushchev who, if you don't know, was the leader of the USSR from 1953-1964, during events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cuban Missile Crisis was that time in history where the USA came closest to a "hot" war with the USSR. The Soviets had missiles in Cuba pointed right at us. Luckily, it never escalated to anything more. Had the missiles been launched I probably wouldn't be in Russia writing this post right now.
Another tomb I really wanted to find was Boris Yeltsin's (pictured below). Yeltsin was the first president of the Russian Federation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He's probably best known for his drinking problem and if you haven't seen this video you definitely should take a look. He just seems like such a fun guy! To find his tomb all you need to do is walk straight up the main path until you come to the intersection of another large path. Look to the left and it's hard to miss. It's probably the least photogenic thing I've ever come across. My friend said you could probably take shots right off of it and now I think that is probably why it was designed like this. Just kidding!
I also really wanted to see was Anton Chekhov's tomb (pictured below). My knowledge of Russian writers and playwrights is pretty abysmal even after living here a year, but I do know Chekhov because my sister was in a play of his while she was living in Michigan. I really just wanted to find his tomb so I could send a picture to her. I also want it to make it look like I know more about Russian culture than I actually do...
At one point A and I lost each other so I continued to walk around looking for famous headstones. I walked past the tomb below while I was searching for Chekhov's tomb but didn't think much of it because it's written in Russian and reading Russian requires me to do a lot more thinking. I was also on a mission to find Chekhov. Later, on when I found A, I took him to Chekhov's headstone and we walked past this one again (because it was nearby). We stopped to take a closer look because he was telling me about it, and I was more interested in it because I had the time. It's the burial place of Nikolai Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the brother of the famous composer Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
I really wish I hadn't lost A because he knew a lot about the famous people in the cemetery. For example, I was drawn to the tomb below because I thought it was cute. I like dogs and it had a dog, but apparently it's the burial place of a famous Russian performer. I would have never known that if it wasn't for A. It's really cool seeing the cemetery through a Russian's perspective. In this case a tour would have been helpful, but I suggest just making a Russian friend instead. The other problem I had with us splitting up was that I spent more time looking for him and less time enjoying the scenery. My phone had negative rubles which is why I couldn't call him or he couldn't call me. Make sure you have enough money on your phone when your in Moscow. Learn from my mistakes.
A denies that he refused to go to the cemetery with me last time we were in Moscow. It was so funny seeing him there because he was like a kid in a candy store looking for all the famous people he recognized. I'm glad we went on our second trip and I hope I convinced you to check it out. If I go back to Moscow I'm definitely going back with more time and a fuller stomach.

What do you think of Novodevichy Cemetery? Would you go? What famous tombstone would you like to see?

Note: Lenin and Stalin, as well as a few others, are buried in the Kremlin.

8 comments

  1. Wow, it's an impressively pretty cemetery!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a gorgeous cemetery! I went there when I was in Moscow and I could have spent so long there, but was with a group. To linger over the stones and try to read them would have been really neat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think going with a group would be a smart idea. You can always go back!

      Delete
  3. Why don't you write an English-language guidebook for obscure and unusual places in Russia? When I do remember to read your blog, it always makes me laugh so I'm sure a book would be really popular.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good idea, but it would probably be very time consuming. I'll keep it in mind though!

      Delete
  4. I, too, seem to find myself tourisng cemetries a lot as a tourist. Did you know in St Petersburg there is (or at least was) a museum called the museum of urban sculpture, which is mainly, I recall, stuff from cemetries? Must go back. Must go here too, as shockingly, I never have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not know about that museum! Now I want to go back to St. Petersburg!

      Delete

© Coffee + Cleveland. Design by Fearne.