Golden Ring of Russia
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What is a Golden Ring of Russia?WHAT IS IT?

The so called "Golden Ring of Russia" is a symbolical ring connecting historical towns and cities to the North-West of Moscow. They represent 1,000 years of rich Russian history written in stone and wood, from a 850-year old church in Rostov to a 19th-century log house in the Suzdal's open air museum. Each of the "golden" Russian towns once played an important role in the history of Russia and was conected in one way or another with famous historical figures such as Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and many others. If you would like to see true, patriarchal Russia, to experience the grandeur of nature and the magnificence of ancient towns then a Golden Ring of Russia tour is well worth taking. It is one of the most popular routes among Russian and foreign lovers of old Russian history and architecture.


The cities and towns of the Golden Ring of Russia are listed here in alphabetical order:

Aleksandrov, Golden ringALEKSANDROV

Founded in 1530, population 68,000. This Golden Ring town is situated 100 km from Moscow on the crossway of ancient roads from the largest historic centers of Russia - Vladimir and Suzdal, Rostov and Yaroslavl, Sergiev Posad and Pereyaslavl-Zalessky. In 1564- 1581 the town was the residence of Ivan the Terrible. In Aleksandrov the tsar proclaimed the establishment of his select, terror-inspiring corps, the Oprichniki and signed the harsh conditions of the truce with Poland and Sweden after losing the long war with Livonia. From Aleksandrov Ivan the Terrible led his army of Oprichniki to strike at the big Russian trade centres of Novgorod, Pskov, Klin and Tver. Here the cruel tsar killed his son in a rage and soon after that left Aleksandrov forever coming back to Moscow. The very first in Russia publishing house was established in Aleksandrov in 1576. One of the leading textile manufacturing centres in Russia in the 19th century.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: Pokrovsky (also called Troitsky) Cathedral (1515), created by the best Russian and Italian masters, became the first pearl in the Tsar Vasily's III (Ivan the Terrible's father) country residence. The Trinity Cathedral of the Dormition Monastery (1513) - a palace church of the Tsar residence is the most grandiose and majestic structure of Alexandrova Sloboda and the oldest church on the monastery grounds. Ivan the Terrible married his two wives in this cathedral. The cathedral is decorated with white-stone carvings and interior frescoes of the 16th century. One of the most impressive features of the church are the Golden Gates—massive oak doors covered with copper plates incised with gold. Since 1336 they had adorned a church in Novgorod until Ivan the Terrible looted the town and brought them to Aleksandrov in 1570. The Intercession Church (16th century) with its well preserved frescos was used as the home church of Ivan the Terrible. The Assumption Church (16-17thI century) - is the home church of the Great Princess, with basement that served as a safe treasure depository of the Moscow Princes Vasily III and his son Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible). The Crucifixion Church-Belfry (16th century) is the dominant of the palace complex of Alexandrov. It is connected with one of the most beautiful legends of Alexandrov Kremlin - about a serf Nikita who made wooden wings and flew up as "a free bird". A prominent part of Aleksandrov is the tall tent-shaped Bell-Tower set over the heavy column of an early sixteenth-century belfry.

Bogolubovo, Golden ringBOGOLUBOVO

Founded in 990, population 4,000. A tiny quiet town of the Golden Ring near the city of Vladimir. The town was named after the Russian prince Andrey Bogolubsky (God-loving) who built the first fortified settlement here in 1165. It was a strategically important point overlooking the Kliazma River.Andrey Bogoliubsky's residence
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: Remains of the Andery Bogolubsky's residence including some residential chambers (1165) and the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin (1165, collapsed, rebuilt in 1751) connected with each other by a passageway. Some craftsmen sent by the German King and Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa took part in the construction work at the castle. The place witnessed the murder of Andrey by people closest to him including his wife in 1174. You need to walk for 1 mile (1.5 km) from the residence to get to the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Nerl (1165) which is considered to be one of the finest specimens of old Russian architecture. It is a small, single-domed church built on a man-made little island in the delta of the Nerl river. The church has very fine exterior carvings, it was built to commemorate the death of Bogolubsky's oldest son who was killed in a battle.

Gorohovets, Golden ringGOROHOVETS

Founded in 1239, population 30,000. This Golden Ring of Russia town was founded under Vladimir prince Andrey Bogolubsky. This Golden Ring town is picturesquely settled on the high bank of the Klyazma River. Played role as a fortified forepost until 1600-s. Reached its developmental pick in the 17-th century as a local centre for blacksmithing, textile-making and making of leather and also as an agricultural trade centre for grains and flax.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: Three monasteries. The Monastery of the Sign (1598) is the oldest monastery in Gorohovets, located behind the Klyazma River. The Monastery of the Trinity and St. Nicolas with its remarkable Cathedral of the Trinity and St. Nicolas was founded during the reign of Tsar Mikhail Romanov (17th c.), the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty. The Monastery of the Presentation in the Temple (1658) is located on the town's central square. Its Cathedral of the Presentation in the Temple appears as one of the most outstanding architectural monuments of Gorohovets of the 17th century. Close to the monastery there is the strict and modest Annunciation Cathedral (1700) with five domes and a bell-tower. In one line with the monastery wall on the northern slope of a hill is the festively decorated Church of St. John Lestvichnik (1716). There is a local museum of history, nicely built and well-preserved merchants' houses of the 17th century.

Gus Khrustalny, Golden ringGUS-KHRUSTALNY

Founded in 1756, population 80,000. Over 200 years ago a Russian merchant built here the first workshop of glass casting. Today the town of the Golden Ring of Russia is one of the district centers of Vladimir region, well-known in Russia and abroad as the national center of glassmaking. The name Gus-Krustalny can be literally translated as Chrystalline Goose. The old part of the town is a workmen's settlement of 1900-s. with its own Church of St. Joachim of 1816.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: The St.George Cathedral (1903) is a refined building with beautiful combination of red brick color with white-stone ornaments on the outside and an open-spaced, exquisitely decorated with mosaic and painted canvas interior. Since 1983 the cathedral houses a permanent exposition of the Museum of Crystal Glassware. There are over 2,000 exhibits in the museum. It is a collection of the samples of mass production of the glass factory dated from the 18th century till modern times, and also some unique creations of glass artists. Many of the applied art works were demonstrated on Russian and international exhibitions.

Kholuy, Golden ringKHOLUY

Founded 1650, population 1,000. The village of Kholui did not begin producing lacquered miniatures until the 1930s, and though iconography had been an important trade in the region in previous centuries, Kholui was never bound to any particular artistic tradition. Rather, Kholui miniatures share some traits with both Palekh and Mstera art, yet maintain a distinctive lyrical quality of their own. As in Palekh and Mstera, Kholui artists use egg tempera paints. Kholui paintings tend to be brighter than Mstera's, though like Mstera, the pigments used are opaque and the background is usually fully painted. Sometimes, as with Palekh miniatures, Kholui miniatures will include some fine gold and/or silver ornamentation within the painting, and Kholui artists can create fantastic border ornaments on par with those of Palekh. Since 1960-s products of Kholuy's 200 artists have been widely represented and promoted internationally.

Kostroma, Golden ringKOSTROMA

Founded in 1213, population 300,000. In the past Kostroma was known as "the flax capital of the north"; it supplied Europe with the world's finest sail-cloth. This city of the Russia's Golden Ring has been also called as the "cradle of the Romanov dynasty". Mikhail Romanov, the first of the Romanov dynasty, left the Ipatievsky Monastery for Moscow in 1613 to become tsar of Russia. During the Polish intervention in the turbulent years of the early seventeenth century Kostroma was a significant stronghold for the resistance movement. The city is spreaded on the left bank of the mighty Russian Volga river. Nowadays Kostroma is an important industrial center (textile, metal works), a capital city of the Kostroma province.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: A Tatar prince named Chet, who was a Boris Godunov's ancestor, converted to Cristianity and founded Ipatievsky MonasteryIpatievsky Monastery in 1332. The Godunovs subsequently adopted the monastery as their personal holy place, donating large sums of money for its continued growth and improvement. During Boris Godunov's reign (1598-1605), the monastery unsurprisingly became the country's wealthiest. It played an important part in almost every major event of the town's history. The Chronicles of the Ipatievsky Monastery, one of the most valuable Russian historical and literary relic, were found in the Museum's archives. The stone wall with towers were erected during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. The Romanov family remained indebted to the monastery, bolstering its wealth to their reign. By the end of the 17th century, the monastery owned 22,000 hectares of land and 17,000 serfs. The monastery's compound contains several interesting exhibitions. In a block of monks' cells there is a small museum featuring icons and antique handicrafts. The Trinity Cathedral, rebuilt after a gun-powder explosion in 1649 strikes visitors with its old bronze doors incised with gold which survived the explosion, the carved, five-tiered iconostasis and abundant frescoes which cover the walls, pillars and vaults like a bright, lively fabric. The red brick Archbishop's house (1588), across from the Trinity Cathedral, houses one of the most moving exhibitions to be found anywhere, the Romanov Family Exhibition, an intimate portrayal of the life and times of the last tsar, Nicolas II, and his family. The huge five-tiered Bell-Tower (1605) is an outstanding specimen of sixteenth-century architecture as well as the cathedral. Originally the tower was built by Dmitry Godunov, a kinsman of the Tsar. Open-air museum of wooden architecture contains a variety of hand-crafted wooden structures from around the Kostroma region. Here you will see churches of the 16-17th centuries, barns, a bath-house, 150-year old windmills, and series of peasant dwellings. The five-domed Resurrection Church-na-Debre (1652) is not only the most beautiful of the old buildings in Kostroma. Numerous frescoes decorate the walls and vaulted ceiling. There's a large number of icons dating from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. The cathedral of the Epiphany Monastery was built in 1565, this is the oldest existing building in the city.

Mstera, Golden ringMSTERA

Founded in 1628, population 6,000. The Golden Ring's town takes its name from the little Msterka River, which flows through it merging with the Kliyazma. It is in Vladimir Region, but not far from the border with Ivanovo Region, south of Palekh and Kholui, in breathtakingly beautiful countryside - the one that forms the backdrop to its paintings. Mstera was a respected center of icon production until the trade was banned after the Revolution of 1917. Since then its artists has been creating world-famous masterpieces in the form of lacquered miniatures. In keeping with the traditions of iconography, egg tempera paints are still used. The landscape is of central importance to the painting with people and objects integrated to the setting. Mstera paintings are frequently larger than those from the other schools but some fine miniatures are also produced and because of their rarity are highly prized. Typical themes include exquisite floral designs with lacy gold ornamentation, the traditional fairy tales, traditional activities and events such as a winter festival, and sometimes portraiture.

Murom, Golden ringMUROM

Founded 862, population 145,000. One of the oldest Russian cites stretched along the left bank of the Oka river. This Golden Ring's town's name originates fromSpassky (Saviour) Monastery "muroma", one of the Finno-Ugric tribes lived here 15 centuries ago. Every Russian knows the name Ilya Muromets. He was a mythical epic hero defending people of Russia and later became a synonym of superior physical and spiritual power and integrity, dedicated to the protection of the Homeland. There is a monument to Ilya Muromets built on a river bank of the Oka river in Murom. This Russian town survived three Mongol invasions. In the 17th century Murom became an important centre of various crafts - building, painting, sawing. There are three working monasteries in Murom.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: The Saviour Monastery, one of the oldest in Russia (1096), with churches and buildings of the 16th-19th centuries. The Trinity Monastery was founded by a Murom's merchant in 1643. The convent's Cathedral of the Trinity, the Church of the Virgin of Kazan, the Belfry, walls and towers and the wooden Church of Sergey Radonezh (18th century) are well worth visiting. In 1553 the Russian tsar Ivan IV the Terrible ordered to build the Monastery of the Annunciation which is now one of the best-preserved and impressive monasteries in Murom. Convent of the Resurrection was founded in the 16th century. The Church of St. Nichola Naberezhny (1717) and the one of St. Kosma and St. Damian (1565) are magnificent examples of old Russian architecture. The local museum of Murom is often called "a little Hermitage" for its unique Russian and West European art collections containing over 50 thousand of exhibits.

Palekh, Golden ringPALEKH

Founded 1600, population 6,000. The village is situated about 400km (250 miles) from Moscow in the Ivanovo region. In the 15th century it was one of the first centers of icon drawing trade. After the 1917 communist coup, when the icon business went down, Palekh masters tried to decorate wooden toys, dishes, porcelain and glass. But the most interesting way turned out to be painting black-lacquered boxes made of papier-mache. These days the name of Palekh is nearly synonymous with the art of Russian lacquer. Palekh artists are generally regarded as the most highly trained of the Russian miniature painters. Famous for highly detailed miniatures with elaborate ornamentation, the village of Palekh has a long artistic tradition. Like their icon painting forebears, today's Palekh artists use egg tempera paints and paint in the Byzantine style. Favored themes are the Russian fairy tales, the famous Russian troika (three horse sleigh), and scenes of life in the countryside. The art of Palekh miniatures expresses the true national character. Many examples of Palekh art have received recognition at international exhibitions and have become world-known.

Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Golden ringPERESLAVL-ZALESSKIY

Founded in 1152, population 45,000. One of the oldest among the towns of the Russian Golden Ring, the birthplace of the famous Russian prince Alexander Nevsky, who defeated an army of German knights in 1242. Zalessky means "behind the woods". That is where, behind the dense forests, ancient Slavic tribes retreated seeking refuge from hostile nomads coming from the South-East. This Russian town is situated on the shores of the huge Pleshcheyevo lake. The town is also connected with the name of the famed Russian tsar-reformer Peter the Great who in 1680-s practiced his skills in ship-building making over 100 boats and sail vessels, who entertained himself with first Russian navy exercises on the Pleshcheyevo lake.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: The white-stone Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral was built in 1160 during the reign of Andrey Bogolubsky. It is simple and modest in design resembling churches of Novgorod. It is believed that Alexander Nevsky was baptised in this church. Except the Cathedral few of theGoritsky Monastery other buildings in the Uglich Kremlin have survived. The oldest one of them is the Church of Metropolitan Peter (1585). Pereslavl-Zalesskiy is proud of its five monasteries which add so much to its beauty. The oldest of them is the Goritsky Monastery said to have been founded during the time of Ivan Kalita (14th century). It overlooks the lake and from a distance looks like a fairy-tale town. Worthy of notice in the monastery is the large seven-domed Dormition Cathedral (1757) with the beautigul interior frescoes. The Danilov Monastery is situated in the low, southwestern end of town. Commissioned by the Russian tsar Vasily III, the single-domed Trinity Cathedral was finished in 1532 in honour of the birth of Vasily's son Ivan, who was to go down in history as Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Next to the Trinity Cathedral there is another single-domed building, the All-Saints Church. Small, pleasant and cheerful-looking, it was built in 1687. Only two non-secular buildings have survived at the Danilov Monastery - the Refectory and the 230-foot long Brethren's Hall. The St. Nicetas Monastery on the road to Yaroslavl (1564). Tsar Ivan the Terrible intended to convert the humble monastery into a fortified stronghold for himself and his oprichniki (elite troops, bodyguards), but changed his mind at the last moment in favour of Alexandrov. In 1608 the St. Nicetas Fort-Monastery withstood a two-week siege by Polish invasion troops. It was badly damaged by fire, restored in 1643. There are two private museums with many antique exhibits in Pereslavl-Zalesskiy. One of them is the Museum of Teapots, another is the Museum of History of Irons in Russia.

Ples, Golden ringPLES

Founded in 1410, population 4,000. This quet little historical Russian town is located on the bank of the mighty and beautiful Volga river. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible Ples was one of the largest river firsh suppliers to the kings' court. In the 18-19th centuries the town became known as a popular resort and was often called "Russian Switzerland" for the beauty of its scenery. Numerous Russian artists including the famous master of landscapes Levitan used to come here to work.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: Museum of Levitan who worked here in 1888-1889 and created over 40 paintings in Ples. Art gallery. Town's history museum. The Dormition Cathedral (1790), the Resurrection, St.Barbara's and Trinity churches and many stone buildings of the 18-19th centuries.

Rostov Veliky, Golden ringROSTOV VELIKY

Also called Rostov the Great, founded in 862, population 40,000. Another precious pearl of ancient Russian culture, one of the emeralds of the Golden Ring of Russia. In old Russia only two towns were called veliky (great). One was Novgorod, the famous trade centre of the Russia's north, the other Rostov. The Principality of Rostov-Suzdal-Vladimir was one of the strongest political divisions of Kievan Rus. It controlled all the major rivers in northeast Russia including the Moskva, Oka, Kliazma, and Volga. In the 12th century Rostov grew to equal Kiev and Novgorod in size and importance. It was made the seat of an Orthodox Metropolitan (Head of Russian Church) in 1587, and served as an important Russian commercial center in the 16-19th centuries, one of the wealthiest in the country, so it could afford to hire the very best builders, decorators and stone-cutters. Modern Rostov is a sleepy old town with some magnificent buildings next to the shallow Nero lake.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: The focal point of the town is the Kremlin (1633) with its 11 towers and 12m (40 feet) high white-stone walls extended forChurch of St.John the Divineabout 1 km (2/3 of a mile). Its churches are perfect examples of Russian architecture of the 17th century. The 4-domed belfry (1620) of Assumption Cathedral is 32m (107 feet) long and 17m (57 feet) high. It has four arched openings and its 15 bells, audible 15 km away, able to play 4 tunes. Famous composers such as Mussorgsky and Berlioz came here to listen to the chimes. The Church of the Resurrection (1670) with five silver domes was the first one to be built.The Church of the Smolensk Mother of God (1693) and Church of the Redeemer are also within the Kremlin area, along with various secular buildings and palaces. The Metropolitan's Residence, with its silver and gold cupolas and towers, cornices and crosses of lace-like design, resembles a castle out of a fairy-tale. The recently restored White Chambers and the Red Chambers, practically raised from the ruins, harmoniously supplement the Kremlin ensemble. Such old secular buildings are all too rare on the "Golden Ring" route. The Dormition Cathedral built in 1162 is outside the Kremlin. It was redesigned in the 15th-16th centuries, with a belfry from 1682. It houses the icon of the Virgin of Vladimir painted in the 11th century. Nearby is the Church of St. Gregory (1670) which has a stone iconostasis. The Savior in the Market Place Church (1690) with remarkable seventeenth-century frescoes and the Church of the Ascension (1566) are next to the Kremlin. The Abraham Monastery by Lake Nero is one of the oldest monasteries in Russia (11th century). It contains the Nikolskaya Gate Church (1691), the Vvedenskaya Church (1650), and the Epiphany Cathedral (1553). The Spaso-Yakovlevski Monastery, founded in 1389 by St. Jacob of Rostov, is also on the lake bank, to the west. The remaining buildings date from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Church of the Transfiguration on the Sands (1603), the Rozhdestvenski Monastery, St. Nicholas Church, St. John's Church, St. Nicholas in the Field Church, and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin all stand within the old town. The little lovely Church of St. John the Divine (1683) is the only existing wooden church in the Yaroslavl region. It occupies the site of the old St. Gregory Monastery where in 1214 the first educational institution in Russia's northeast was founded, transferred from Jaroslavl. Many other churches are in the neighboring region.

Sergiev Posad, Golden ringSERGIEV POSAD

Founded in 1345, population 115,000. The spiritual center of Russia, residence of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, where the remains of the first national saint, Sergei Radonezh, rests. In the heart of Sergiev Posad is a well-preserved splendid architectural ensemble of over 50 historical buildings, as well as magnificent art collections including old Russian painting and the treasures in the vaults of the former Trinity Monastery.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: The Trinity Monastery of Sergiev Posad was founded around 1345 by Sergei Radonezh. Three hundred and sixty years ago Polish invading Trinity Monasteryforces plunged the territory of western and central Russia in a sea of anarchy, terror and fire. All the towns suffered, most of them taken and looted by the invaders. The Fortress of the Trinity Monastery alone stood firm, like a little island in the inundated land. It was heroically defended mainly by the peasants of nearby villages against invasion armies twenty times their own number. And the Russian people won after withstanding a 16-month siege. The Polish troops retreated in disgrace from the monastery grounds. The little fortress of Sergiev Posad thus became the forerunner of the hero-towns of the Patriotic War. There are 11 towers with two entrance gates erected in 1550. The main entrance to the monastery was through the Pilgrim Tower gates on the north side of the wall. The focal point of the Monastery is the white-stone Trinity Cathedral (1422) where the relics of St.Sergius are kept. The iconostasis of the cathedral contains paintings by the finest Russian icon-painter Andrei Rublev. The simple-lined, five-domed Dormition Cathedral (1570) is the monastery's official church with its beautiful frescoes of the 17th century and a huge, carved icinistasis with platforms for the choir. At the north-west corner of the Cathedral there is a burial vault of the Tsar Boris Godunov's family. The spacious Palace was used a stop-over residence of Tsar Alexei Romanov. The 300-year old Refectory with fine paintings and sculptors also worth visiting. The recently restored red and white Church of St. Zosima and Savvaty (1638) attached to the Hospital is the only tent-roofed church in the Monastery.The elaborate Metropolitan's (Rusian church Patriarch) Residence was built in the 18th century. The graceful Virgin of Smolensk Church (also of the 18th century) decorated in the magnificent baroque fashion. The finely carved Piatnitskaya Chapel and the cheerful-looking Chapel-over-the-Well were both built in 1547. The Church of the Holy Ghost was built of brick in 1476 by stone-masons from Pskov. It is an unusual type of ecclesiastical building with the bell-tower under the dome.

Suzdal, Golden ringSUZDAL

Founded in 1024, population 12,000. This little quiet town is a real gem, one of the most beautiful in the Russian Golden Ring collection of citeis and towns. In the 11th century Suzdal became the very first forepost of Christianity in the North-Eastern Russia and significantly affected the religious life in Russia until the end of 19 century. The town was destroyed by Mongols in 1238. Later Suzdal became the capital city of Russian prince Yury Dolgoruky who is considered to be the founder of Moscow. The second destruction of Suzdal came with the Polish invasion in the 17th century. Here you can find over 100Suzdal, open-air museum, wooden church, 1800-s church and secular buildings dating from the mid-12th to the mid-19th century crowded into a area of 9 square km.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: The Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius or Spaso-Yefimiev Monastery (founded in 1352) with its twenty-towered white walls is the Suzdal's biggest monastery. The Refectory Church of the Dormition is considered the first tent-shaped church in Russia built of stone. Since the time of Catherine the Great it was used as a state prison. St. Lazarus Church was built in 1667 by the townspeople. The Kremlin of Suzdal contains several streets of houses, some churches, the Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral (1225, rebuilt in 1530)) with its dark-blue, gold-spotted cupolas and beautiful frescoes of the 13-17th centuries. The enormous doors of the cathedral (the Golden Gates) with designs of gold on the black background of the bronze tablets are a priceless example of medieval Russian art. There are five monasteries in Suzdal. St. Basil's Monastery was founded by Alexander Nevsky in the thirteenth century. There is an open-air museum of wooden architecture similar to the one in Kostroma with its old peasant houses, a waterwell and two magnificent wooden churches od the 16th and 18th centuries that had been brought to the museum from far away corners of the Suzdal province. Boris and Gleb Church of 1152 was the first white-stone building in the North-Eastern Russia. There are also many 18-19th-century historical buildings in Suzdal.

Tutaev, Golden ringTUTAEV

Founded in 1283, population 45,000. This old little town of the Golden Ring sprawling on both banks of the Volga river. Tutaev (formerly known as Romanovo-Borisoglebsk) is divided by the Volga river into two parts. The former town Romanov is located on the left high bank of the river, the former town Borisoglebsk is on the right sloping one. Romanov was called after the Russian prince Roman of Uglich who was the founder of this town, Borisoglebsk got its name in connection with the Church of St. Boris and St. Gleb erected there in the 15th century. These Russian towns were united under the new name Romanovo-Borisoglebsk in 1822. In 1918 the town's name was changed to Tutaev in honour of the Red Army hero who was killed during the Civil war .
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: In Borisoglebsk part of the town - large and splendid Resurrection Cathedral (1670) lavishly decorated with ornamental brick-work and tiling, with well-preserved wall frescoes inside and a low, tent-shaped Bell-tower closeby. Later, in XVIII century Kazanskaya-Preobrazhensky Church (1758) was built in the Romanov part of the town. Modest Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross (1658), Church of the Annunciation (1660) and Church of the Intercession (1674) are the oldest existing stone buildings in Tutaev.

Uglich, Golden ringUGLICH

Founded in 937, population 38,000. This Golden Ring's town was built on a major trade route. In its history Uglich has survived destruction by the Mongols andUglich, Church of Prince Demetriuslived through the devastation of fires and plagues. Uglich is famous for Russia's darkest secret - the death of young Prince Dimitri, son of Ivan the Terrible who is often called Tsarevich (a heir to the throne) Dmitry. The Tsarevich, a sickly boy, was the last of the Rurik dynasty. While playing with a knife in the yard he stabbed himself by accident or was stabbed by an assassin allegedly sent by Boris Godunov, his competitor for the throne. The center of Uglich also is a historical and architectural landmark. The streets are wide, with various churches standing side by side along the road. These Uglich churches vary in size and have domes and belfries of different shapes and designs, all of which add to the charm of this small town. Uglich is known in Russia for simple-designed and reliable watches. The local factory, which makes beautiful women's watches decorated with special "Finift" paintings on porcelain which are incorporated into the bands of the watches.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: The Uglich fortress, or "Kremlin", stands on the bank of the Volga River. Several ancient churches are located within the Kremlin walls, the highlight of which is the beautiful Dormition Church of the 17th century. The Duke's chamber of the 15th century and the Resurrection Monastery is also located within the Kremlin. Church of Prince Dimitri On the Blood (1692) is built on the place of Tsarevich Dmitry's death (that is why it is called "On the Blood") with a cluster of five domes over the square-shaped body of the main part. The church itself and the ground floor below it have now been turned into a museum. The Cathedral at the Uglich Kremlin was constructed in 1713. The bell-tower, added in 1730, is the tallest building in the Kremlin. The tall and simple-designed Palace of Tsarevich Dmitry is the oldest building in Uglich and of the greatest historical value. The Resurrection Cathedral, the Bell-Tower, the Refectory Chambers together with the Church of the Virgin of Smolensk all stand in line forming a single ensemble of the Resurrection Monastery (1680). In the heart of Uglich there are also some good examples of old domestic architecture including stone and wooden houses of famous Russian merchants of the 18th century. The Alexeyevsky Monastery, oldest in Uglich, was founded in 1371 by Alexius, Metropolitan of all Russia, an important political figure in the state of Muscovy. It was sacked and burned down during the Polish and Lithuanian invasion early in the seventeenth century. The monastery was rebuilt in the 1620s. One of the churches on the monastery premises is the small and simple-designed but very elegant and perfectly propotioned church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (1628) that has been known for centuries as "Divnaya" (Wondrous) and has always been dear to the hearts of the people of Uglich. Its slender triple-spired silhouette can be seen from every part of town. It is said that people used to stand in front of the magnificent building and exclaim "Divnaya!".

Vladimir, Golden ringVLADIMIR

Founded in 1108, population 400,000. One of the oldest Russian cities, one of the best-preserved amongst other cities of the Golden Ring, was founded by the Russian Prince Vladimir Monomakh on the banks of the Kliazma river. The city of Vladimir really blossomed in the 12th century during the reign of Prince Andrey Bogolubsky, who strengthened its defences, welcomed architects, icon-painters, jewellers from other countries, built new palaces and churches so magnificent that travelers compaired them with the ones in the "mother of all Russian cities"- Kiev. Until the middle of 14th century the city had been an administrative, cultural and religious center for North-Eastern Russia. During the Mongol invasion in the 13th century Vladimir was beseiged, looted and almost totally destroyed. Presently the city is a capital of the Vladimir province.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: The splendid Assumption cathedral (1158-1160) that survived the Mongol invasion dominates among other buildings in theVladimir, Golden Gate Vladimir Kremlin. The oldest frescoes in the building dated 1161. In 1408 its murals were repainted by Andrei Rublev, one of the greatest of medieval Russian painters . The cathedral is richly decorated with sculptures, frescoes and gilt and a tall bell-tower of the 19th century arising next to it. Cathedral of St. Demetrius (1194-1197), the court church of the Russian prince Vsevolod III. It is a simply-designed church building with walls richly covered with splendid carvings of saints' and kings' figures, animals, birds, plants and compositions on mythological and religious topics. The Golden Gate in Vladimir built as a replica of the Kiev's Golden Gate in 1164 (restored in the 18th century) is the only remaining structure of that kind in Russia. The white-stone massive building survived 800 years of history and still looks impressive. It was rebuilt in the 18th century. Once very wealthy Nativity Monastery is also worth visiting. Alexander Nevsky (1220-63), Russian national hero and saint, a warrior-prince was buried at the monastery in 1263. Another place to see in Vladimir is the Assumption Cathedral in the Knyaginin Monastery. Its frescoes are real masterpieces of the 17th century. There are hundreds of less valuable buildings of the 16-19th centuries in the historical centre of Vladimir.

Yaroslavl, Golden ringYAROSLAVL

Population 600,000. The legend says this town of the Golden Ring was founded by the famous Russian prince Yaroslav the Wise in 1010 as a fortified settlement on the Volga river. After a huge fire of 1658 that turned most of the city into ruins, Jaroslavl was rebuilt in stone and reached the peak of its architectural development with palaces and churches richly decorated with beautiful frescoes and ornaments thus earning the title "Florence of Russia". The first Russian professional theater was established in Jaroslavl by Volkov in 1750. Since the 18th century Jaroslavl has been an important industrial center. Today it is a quiet metropolitan city, one of Russia's largest regional centres, a capital of the Jaroslav province and one of the most beautiful cities of old Russia.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: One of the oldest in Russia Tolgsky Monastery (14th century), with many magnificent frescoes in the Church of the Presentation of the Virgin (17th century), the Holy Gates with the Clock Bell-Tower, and the Refectory Chambers large quarters for formal receptions. The monastery is still being used by nuns today. The Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour was founded in the 12th century, and became one of Russia's richest and most fortified monasteries by the 1500's. Spaso-Preobrazhenski Monastery (12th century) where the famous Tale of Igor's Campaign, a precious gem of old Russian literature was found. Numerous churches, most of them of the 17th century in the city itself and in the suburbs. 3 theatres, 4 museums including a suburban house of Nekrasov (1821-78), a famous Russian poet, editor, and publisher, private "Time and Music" museum with the largest collection of antique clocks, hand bells and household items.

Yuriev-Polsky, Golden ringYURIEV-POLSKY

Population 20,000. Was founded in 1152 by the Prince Yury Dolgoruky (who also founded Moscow in 1147) and named afterYuriev-Polsky, Monastery of the Archangel Michael himself. The second word "Polsky" means in Russian "among the fields" as it is situated in the heart of fertile and flat Suzdal land. These beautiful landscapes inspired the great painters and writers such as Repin, Tyutchev, Odoevsky, Soloukhin. Local textile centre since the 18th century.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST: The massive stone-walled Monastery of the Archangel Michael was founded in the 13th century by the Russian Prince Sviatoslav whose burial vault is located in the St.George's Cathedral (1234, rebuilt in 1471), the monastery's finest feature with its helmet-shaped shining cupola covered with glazed green tiles. The exterior walls of the cathedral are richly decorated with carved stone plates. Refectory and the Bell-tower(1625), the five-domed Church of St. John the Divine (1670). There is also the Museum of History, Architecture and Art which is housed in the monastery buildings, its exhibitions relate the history of local peasantry and agriculture; show rare examples of artistic woodcarving, there is also an art gallery.

How to get to Golden Ring of RussiaHOW TO GET THERE AND AROUND

Moscow is the nearest large city to the Golden Ring. You should take a plane to Moscow. offers discount rates for Moscow hotels. From Moscow you can travel the cities and towns of the Russian Golden Ring either by a tour bus or by a river cruise ship. The last option limits the number of towns that you can visit as they have to be situated close to the Volga river. We recommend you to take a Golden Ring bus tour for 3 to 10 days depending on your stamina and level of interest in Russian history. A typical 3-4-day tour from Moscow covers up to 7 cities and towns of the Golden Ring of Russia. You travel during the day time in a comfortable bus with a well-trained English-speaking guide and spend nights at hotels with Western-class service (usually- 3 star). The Golden Ring of Russia tour can be perfectly combined with 2-3 day program in Moscow. Almost every major travel agency in Moscow sells Golden Ring of Russia tours and it is much cheaper to buy them on the spot in Russia then to purchase a tour included into a vacation package from Europe or overseas. Communication is not a problem, these days all personnel in reputable travel agencies in Russia speak English. Check out our travel guide to Russia.

When to travel to Golden ring of RussiaWHEN TO GO, CLIMATE

The best season to travel to Russia is summer, from June to August, the warmest time of the year there. Rains are usual during Russian summers, do not forget to pack your umbrella. Weather in Russia can be unpredictably cold, even in the European part of Russia, so take some warm clothing. You can check next week weather forecast for Moscow, Russia on our Popular Travel Destinations page.

Golden Ring travel tipsTRAVEL TIPS

A passport and a Russian visa are required to travel in or transit through Russia. To learn more about how to obtain Russian visa please visit Russian Embassy website. Without a visa, travelers cannot register at Russian hotels and may be required to leave the country immediately via the route by which they entered, at the cost of the traveler. Russian customs officers strictly follow document regulations so travelers are advised to have all papers in order. It is also recommended that additional copies of passport and Russian visa be kept in a safe place in case of loss or theft. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk in Russia due to inadequate medical facilities. Doctors and hospitals in Russia often expect immediate cash/dollar payment for health services at Western rates so supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage is very useful. Travelers should be certain that all immunizations are up-to-date, especially for diphtheria and typhoid. Quality of tap water in Russia varies from city to city but normally is quite poor. Only boiled or bottled water should be drunk throughout Russia. Crime against foreigners in Russia continues to be a problem, especially in major cities. Pick pocketing, assaults, and robberies occur. Foreigners who have been drinking alcohol are especially vulnerable to assault and robbery in or around night clubs or bars, or on their way home. Robberies may occur in taxis shared with strangers. Be aware that public washrooms in Russia are difficult to find, and usually you have to pay there. To use a public phone anywhere in Russia you will need a token or local card. International calls can not be made from street phones. Your mobile phone will work in Moscow and Saint Petersburg but seldom in regional Russian cities. Taxi fee must be discussed with a driver before a journey. In the major Russian cities you can rent a car if you do not mind fairly rugged road conditions, a few hassles finding petrol, getting lost now and then and paying high rent price. Public transport in Russia is quite good, cheap and easy to use though sometimes overcrowded. Russian restaurants seldom have a menu in English. Tipping is expected by Russians but not mandatory. Signs in English are common only on the streets of Moscow and other big Russian cities. In large cities it is not hard to find a passerby who can answer your questions in Engish. Electricity throughout Russia is 220 volt/50 hz. The plug is the two-pin thin European standard. Detailed maps of Russia, Russia travel guides: offers you a wide selection of travel books, information booklets, atlases available at our online travel store.

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