Some of Moscow's most atmospheric places - monasteries, churches and cemeteries - were originally located outside the city walls. Although suburban sprawl has long since swallowed them up, they remain green havens from the city stress. Here you can find stone angels weeping into the snowdrops or peaceful chapels among trees and birdsong. This week's tour picks up where last week's ended: at Proletarskaya metro station, visiting the ancient and modern memorials spread out along the route of the No. 46 tram, which runs roughly every 15 minutes. If you want to explore the Pokrovsky Convent rather than just admire it from the window, it's probably better to walk the first 500 metres and get on the tram afterwards. Each time you board the tram you simply need to give 25 roubles to the driver for a ticket. Tram No. 46 leaves from the traffic island just north of Proletarskaya near the silver statue of a revolutionary worker. Two stops later, it passes the brightly coloured Pokrovsky Convent.
The convent is most famous today for the relics of Saint Matrona. Matrona is that rare phenomenon: a Stalin-era saint. Born with no eyes in an impoverished village, she is credited with divine vision and healing powers. There is even a legend that Stalin secretly visited her and she told him that Moscow would not fall to the Nazis. You can visit the gleaming interior of the Intercession Cathedral, but to get into the Church of the Protecting Veil where Matrona is buried, you will probably have to join the hours-long queue of patient pilgrims holding flowers. With her saint's day coming up on May 2, this popular convent is busier than ever.
Another two stops bring you to Bibliotechnaya Ulitsa. The next turning on the left is Shkolnaya Ulitsa, one of Moscow's most delightful surprises: hidden between tower blocks, a colourful row of 19th-century houses. If you walk along this road and take the second turning on the right, you will see the Spaso Andronikov Monastery ahead of you across Ulitsa Sergeya Radonezhskogo.
Founded in 1360, the Andronikov Monastery, on the banks of the Yauza River, contains Moscow's oldest building - the early 15th-century Saviour Cathedral. The interior was originally decorated with frescoes by Andrei Rublyov, who died here. The walled grounds are open from 11 a.m. every day except Wednesday and entry is free. You will need a ticket to visit the Museum of Old Russian Art in the 16th century Archangel Church, which is an icon-lovers' paradise.
Returning to the tram, which passes a statue of Lenin at Ploshchad Ilyicha, go on four stops, under a railway and motorway flyover. If you get off here, just the other side of the ring road, cross under Shosse Entusiastov and walk down quiet Shepelyuginskaya Ulitsa, you will see the brick wall of the Rogozhskoye Cemetery to your right. Follow this wall round to the left along Starobryadcheskaya Ulitsa to find a little lane that leads to the entrance.
Among the simple crosses and sarcophagi, there is a stone monument designed by the architect Fyodor Shekhtel straight ahead along the main path under a wrought iron canopy. This commemorates the Morozov family, not the boyar Morozovs from Surikov's famous painting, who were also Old Believers, but the family of 19th-century merchants. The Old Believers were those who followed the older religious practices after Patriarch Nikon's reforms in 1666.
Opposite the cemetery gates, walk through the colourful arch of the 18th century St. Nikolai Church. This church is currently Orthodox, but the other buildings ahead constitute the Moscow Old Believers' commune. The Intercession Cathedral is wonderful inside, but women must be wearing long skirts as well as the usual headscarf and even then visitors are not encouraged. The enormous bell tower (deliberately just 1 metre shorter than the Kremlin's Ivan the Great) was built in 1909 to celebrate the new religious tolerance laws.
The tram winds on past Aviamotornaya metro station through the Lefortovo area. Just after the gold and blue domes of the Peter and Paul Church, the tram turns right. The next stop is near the entrance to the Vvedenskoye Cemetery, also known as the German Cemetery because of the number of foreigners buried here in the 18th and 19th centuries. The blue and white domed chapel straight ahead on the right is another Shekhtel mausoleum, built for the Erlanger family. In the far left corner, the grave of Viktor Vasnetsov, the artist who designed the fairy tale façade of the Tretyakov Gallery, is marked by one of his characteristic horseback bogatyrs (old Russian knights). Viktor's brother, Apollinari Vasnetsov is also nearby. He was also an artist and you can see his watercolours of the medieval city in the Moscow History Museum. A branch of this museum is nearby and if you want to find out more about the characters who lived and died in this historic area, you shouldn't miss it.
Exit at the far end of the cemetery, turn left and left again to find the Lefortovo Museum (Tue.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.) at 23 Kryukovskaya Ulitsa. Tickets are 30/70 roubles for Russians/foreigners. Peter the Great was crucially influenced by foreigners living in this area, where he grew up and trained his model army. Another four stops on the tram bring you to Semenovskaya metro station. Just two stops beyond that is a second Old Believers' cemetery, the Preobrazhenskoye Cemetery. This is another fascinating area, but exploring it may have to wait for another day.
Landmark of the week
Statue of Andrei Rublyov
This modern monument, in front of the Andronikov Monastery where he retired and died in 1430, is dedicated to Russia's greatest medieval icon painter. His work, including the famous "Trinity" can be seen in the Tretyakov Gallery.