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It was the first monastery to be founded in the Moscow Kremlin in the early 14th century, affiliated with the Saviour church. Upon its removal to the left bank of the Moskva River in 1491, the cloister was renamed the New Saviour, to distinguish it from the original one in the Kremlin.
Upon the Romanovs' ascension to the Moscovy throne, Michael of Russia completely rebuilt their family shrine in the 1640s. Apart from the 18th-century bell-tower and the Sheremetev sepulchre in the church of the Sign, all other buildings date from that period. They include the large Spassky (Transfiguration) Cathedral (1645-49) with frescoes by the best 17th-century painters, the Pokrovsky (Intercession) church at the refectory, the House of Loaf-Giving, a hospital, monks' living quarters, and the palace of Patriarch Filaret.
During the Soviet years, the monastery was converted into a prison, then into a police drunk tank. In the 1970s it was assigned to an art restoration institute, and finally returned to the Russian Orthodox church in 1991.