The cloister was founded in May 1889 by Grand Duchess Alexandra Romanova, and people used to call it “The Duchess’ Convent”. But already in June it was named the Convent of the Virgin Protectress by decision of the Sacred Synod.
According to legend, a hieromonk Theophilus from the Hermitage of Kytayiv prophesied that in the spacious garden belonging to a certain G.Dikowski a convent would be laid by a “regal wife”. Duchess Alexandra, who had bought that garden in 1888, after having learned about the prophecy, founded a convent and took the veil under the name of Anastasia.
The nuns and novices of the new cloister based themselves on the idea of “the living monasticism”, that is revival of the ancient monastic traditions of enlightenment, charity and help to the suffering. The first Mother Superior of the convent was a nun Neophyta from the Moscow Convent of the Passion.
Soon on the territory of the cloister appeared a therapy and a surgery buildings of the infirmary, a medical school, a specialized school for girls, a gold-embroidery and an icon-painting workshops, a chapel with museum, shops selling books and icons, a bakery, kvass brewery, shelters for the orphans, blind and sick, etc. Only 15 out of 30 such structures have remained.
A gem of the cloistral architectural ensemble is the 15-domed Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia (1), built in 1896-1911. Noteworthy is also the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin (2), built in 1889-1890, with the cells where the nun Anastasia lived. Of interest is the infirmary’s therapy building with domestic Church dedicated to the Icon of the Mother of God “Consolation of All the Afflicted” (1897-1898).
The convent’s central square has two levels: on the upper terrace is the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, and on the lower – the Church of the Intercession and the entry to an underground church in honour of the Icon of the Mother of God “The Life-Bearing Spring”, housed in the lower tier of the cathedral.