There are several regions in this magnificent country, which strongly preserve the culture and unique traditions of Russia of yore. These towns are ancient – some of the oldest in the area – and they’ve played a major role in that long and complex history, in shaping the country’s many customs, in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church, and in the conservation of all that had been created over hundreds of years and that makes this country what it is today.
Therefore, these cities are often called "open-air museums", as they are homes to exceptional centuries-old monuments, kremlins, churches, monasteries, cathedrals, museums, etc., many of which are World Heritage Sites.
Situated in the Vladimir Oblast on the Kamenka River, Suzdal is one of the oldest Russian towns, with its history dating back to the late 10th/early 11th century. It remained a trade center long after the principality’s capital was moved from Suzdal to Vladimir in 1157. When its political relevance declined, it became a religious center, with wealthy merchants paying for thirty beautiful, still-standing churches to be built in the 17th and 18th centuries.
As the Trans-Siberian Railway bypassed Suzdal in the mid-19th century, and the city became a protected area in 1967, much of it remains almost unchanged, preserving its distinct combination of rural look and medieval architecture.
Today, Suzdal is a tourist center and home to several World Heritage Sites. Visit its 10th-century Kremlin, where, among a host of wonders, you’ll find the Archbishop’s Chambers with its Suzdal History Exhibition, and the 1635 bell tower with more exhibitions for you to enjoy.
After that, visit the 13th-century Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral with its blue-and-gold domes, the Saviour Monastery of St Euthymius that was founded in 1352 and at one point even served as a prison, the Intercession Convent founded in 1364, the Wooden Church of St. Nicholas built in 1766 in Glotovo and moved to Suzdal in 1960, the early 18th-century St John the Baptist Church, and the 1240 St Alexander Convent.
This home of many exquisite monasteries, churches and cathedrals is the perfect destination for all you art, architecture, history, and religious studies fans. Located in the Yaroslavl Oblast, the city is said to have been founded in 1010 as an outpost. During the Polish occupation of Moscow in 1612, Yaroslavl was Russia’s capital. Today, it’s an important industrial center. Despite the devastation caused by the Russian Civil War and World War II, many of its structures from the 17th-19th centuries have survived.
The large city center alone has some 140 protected architectural monuments, which have been declared a World Heritage Site, along with the Spassky Monastery, founded in the 12th century, and its 1516 the Spaso-Preobrazhensky / Transfiguration of the Savior Cathedral – the oldest buildings in Yaroslavl, featuring stunning architecture and beautiful frescos.
In the same compound, you’ll find the Architectural, Historical, and Art Museum Preserve, and you can climb one of the bell towers from its collection for the most amazing views of the city and the nature around it. After that, go see the iconic Cathedral of the Assumption, originally built in 1215, but destroyed multiple times, so it had to be re-built in 2005.
You also ought to visit the Residence of Her Majesty the Queen of Maslenitsa – a wooden recreation of the town as it was in 1913, which celebrates traditional Russian culture. Finally, if you enjoy Russian art from the 18th-20th-centuries, visit the Yaroslavl Art Museum located in the early 19th-century Governor’s Mansion.
This old city, which shares the name with an East Slavic goddess, was first recorded in the chronicles in 1213, but historians believe it could have been founded in 1152. The Tsars of the Romanov dynasty considered Kostroma their special protectorate. As a matter of fact, one of the most important sites here is the 14th-century Ipatiev Monastery, known as the “cradle of the tsarist dynasty”, where Mikhail Romanov, the founder of the dynasty, hid from his enemies.
He was crowned in the monastery’s Trinity Cathedral, and his wooden house still stands in the monastery. The royal family often visited the Ipatiev Monastery, including Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar. The gifts they brought can be seen in the monastery’s museum.
The city has many must-visit places. Start with the first stone building – the stunning 16th-century five-domed Epiphany Cathedral, and then proceed to a 17th-century architectural and religious monument, the Church of the Resurrection in the Grove. Take a walk and enjoy the view of the well-preserved 19th-century merchant houses and the still-thriving and bustling shopping complexes from the 18th and 19th centuries.
For some history and art, stop by the fascinating Museum of Theatrical Costume, the Museum of Ancient Architecture, and the Museum Petrovskaya Igrushka, then proceed to the Romanovsky Museum, where you can see many royal objects, such as the throne, clothing, books, and documents, but you can also enjoy exhibitions that focus on the 19th-century art, which include antique furniture, clothing, as well as porcelain and crystal glassware.
Topics: World Travel