This monastery with a yellow belfry dates to the 13th century, when it was inside the Kremlin. Ivan the Great, who wanted to free up space in the Kremlin for other construction, order it rebuilt here in 1462, though none of the monastery's original 15th-century structures survived the move. The present fortification wall and most of the churches and residential buildings on the grounds date from the 17th century. In more modern times, a site just outside the monastery's
walls was one of the mass graves for those executed during Stalin's purges.
You enter the monastery at the nearest entrance to the left of the Bell Tower Gate, which was erected in 1786. The first thing you see as you enter the grounds is the massive white Sobor Spasa Preobrazheniya (Transfiguration Cathedral). You may notice a resemblance, particularly in the domes, to the Kremlin's Assumption Cathedral, which served as this cathedral's model. The structure was built between 1642 and 1649 by the Romanov family, commissioned by the tsar as the Romanov family crypt. The gallery leading to the central nave is decorated with beautiful frescoes depicting the history of Christianity in Kievan Rus'.
In front of the cathedral, on the right-hand side, is the small red Nadmogilnaya Chasovnya (Memorial Chapel), marking the grave of Princess Augusta Tarakanova, the illegitimate daughter of Empress Elizabeth and Count Razumovsky. The princess lived most of her life as a nun in Moscow's St. John's Convent, forced to take the veil by Catherine the Great. During her lifetime her identity was concealed, and she was known only as Sister Dofiya. The chapel over her grave was added in 1900, almost a century after her death. In an odd twist, Princess Tarakanova had an imposter who played a more visible role in Russian history. She appeared in Rome in 1775, to the alarm of Catherine, who dispatched Count Alexei Orlov to lure the imposter back to Russia. Orlov was successful, and the imposter Tarakanova was imprisoned in a flooded, rat-infested cell in St. Petersburg's Petropavlovskaya Krepost (Peter and Paul Fortress) and died of consumption in 1775.
To the right as you face Transfiguration Cathedral stands the tiny Pokrovsky Tserkov (Church of the Intercession). Directly behind the cathedral is the Tserkov Znamenia (Church of the Sign). Painted in the dark yellow popular in its time, with a four-column facade, the church was built between 1791 and 1808 by the wealthy Sheremetyev family and contains the Sheremetyev crypt. In the rear right-hand corner of the grounds, running along the fortification walls, are the former monks' residences.