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Ring of Russia
GOLDEN RING OF RUSSIA
The Golden Ring is a ring of cities northeast of Moscow, the
capital of Russia. They formerly comprised the region known
as Zalesye. These ancient towns, which also played a
significant role in the formation of the Russian Orthodox
Church, preserve the memory of the most important and
significant events in Russian history. The towns have been
called "open air museums" and feature unique monuments of
Russian architecture of the 12th18th centuries, including
kremlins, monasteries, cathedrals, and churches. These towns
are among the most picturesque in Russia and prominently
feature Russia's famous onion domes.
Sergiyev Posad is a city and the administrative center of
Sergiyevo-Posadsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia. It
grew up in the 15th century around one of the greatest of
Russian monasteries, the Troitse-Sergiyeva (Trinity) Lavra
established by St. Sergius of Radonezh. The town became
incorporated in 1742. As the town's name, alluding to St.
Sergius, had strong religious connotations, the Soviet
authorities changed first to just Sergiyev in 1919, and then
to Zagorsk in 1930, in memory of the revolutionary Vladimir
Zagorsky. The original name came back into official use in
1991. Population: 113,581.
Tourism associated with the Golden Ring plays a role in the
regional economy. There is also an important factory of toys.
The Moscow Yaroslavl railway and highway pass through the
town. Sergiyev Posad Bus Terminal is located in the city.
Pereslavl-Zalessky is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia. It
was called Pereyaslavl until the 15th century. The town is
located on the southeastern shore of the Lake Pleshcheyevo
at the mouth of the Trubezh River. Population: 42,900. The
town is located 140 km to the northeast of Moscow on the
main Moscow Yaroslavl road and on the shores of Pleschevo
Pereslavl-Zalessky was founded in 1152 by Prince Yuri
Dolgoruky as a projected capital of Zalesye. In 11751302,
the town was the center of the Principality of Pereslavl (Zalessky).
In 1302, the town became a part of the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
Pereslavl-Zalessky had been devastated numerous times by the
Mongols between the mid-13th century and the early 15th
century. In 16111612, it suffered from the Polish invasion.
In 16881693, Peter the Great built his famous "fun flotilla"
on Lake Pleshcheyevo for his own amusement, including the
so-called Peter's little boat, which would be considered the
forefather of the Russian fleet. The Botik (small boat)
museum chronicles the history of the first Russian fleet and
keeps one of the original model boats.
In 1708, Pereslavl-Zalessky became a part of Moscow
Governorate. In 1894, Vladimir Lenin came to the village of
Gorki not far from Pereslavl-Zalessky and
typed his work entitled "Who are the 'friends of the people'
and how do they fight Social Democrats?" on a hectograph.
Rostov is one of the oldest towns in Russia and a tourist
centre of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of
Lake Nero in Yaroslavl Oblast, 202 km to the north east of
Moscow. Population: 34,141.
The central square of Rostov is occupied by the enormous
Assumption Cathedral. It is unknown when the present
building was erected, the mid-16th Century being the most
likely date. Lower parts of the cathedral walls are dated to
the 12th century. The ponderous bell-tower was constructed
mostly in the 17th century. Its bells are among the largest
and most famous in Russia; each has its own name. The
largest bell, cast in 1688, weighs 32000 kilograms. It is
named Sysoi to honour the metropolitan's father.
An area situated between the cathedral square and the lake
was chosen by Iona Sysoevich as a place for his fairy-tale
residence. All the construction works were carried out
between 1667 and 1694. Major buildings include the ornate
Savior Church-na-Senyakh (1675), the sombre Church of St.
Gregory (1670), and the barbican churches of St. John the
Apostle (1683) and of the Resurrection of Christ (1670). The
residence, often erroneously called kremlin, also includes
eleven ornate tower bells, numerous palaces, several small
belfries, and the dimunitive baroque Church of Our Lady of
Smolensk (1693). All the churches are elaborately painted
The cathedral and four tall kremlin churches with their
silver "blind" domes were imitated throughout the city. This
tendency is particularly evident in the Savior-on-the-Market
church and the cathedral church of the Nativity convent,
both dating from the 17th century and situated near the
kremlin walls. The oldest church within the city centre was
consecrated to St. Isidore the Blessed in 1565. They say
that Ivan the Terrible had the architect executed, because
his church was so much smaller than its predecessor.
The kremlin is flanked by two great monasteries, both facing
the Lake Nero. To the right from the Kremlin stands the
Abraham monastery, founded in the 11th Century and one of
the oldest in Russia. Its cathedral, commissioned by Ivan
the Terrible in 1553 to commemorate the conquest of Kazan,
inspired numerous churches in the region, particularly in
Yaroslavl. Spaso-Yakovlevsky Monastery, situated to the left
from the kremlin on the town's outskirts, has been venerated
as the shrine of St. Dmitry of Rostov. Most of the monastery
structures were built in the late 18th and early 19th
centuries in the fine neoclassical style.
Yaroslavl is a city in Russia, the administrative center of
Yaroslavl Oblast, located 250 kilometers (155 mi) north-east
of Moscow. The historical part of the city, a World Heritage
Site, is located at the confluence of the Volga and the
Kotorosl Rivers. Population: 613,088.
The most ancient building in the city is the
Spaso-Preobrazhensky ("Transfiguration of the Saviour")
Cathedral of the Spassky (St Saviour) Monastery constructed
in 15061516 on the foundations of the original edifice
dating back to 12161224. In the 16th century, the first
stone wall is built around the monastery. It is from this
monastery that an army of volunteers led by Minin and Prince
Pozharsky set out to liberate Moscow from Polish invaders.
In 1787, the monastery was closed and converted into a
residence of the Yaroslavl and Rostov bishops. At that time,
monastery buildings began to be reconstructed. New cells and
the prior's chambers were built.
Apart from the Spaso-Preobrazhensky ("Transfiguration of the
Saviour") Monastery, the oldest churches in the city date
back to the 17th Century and belong to the so-called
Yaroslavl type. Those of St. Nicholas Nadein and Elijah the
Prophet have some of the Golden Ring's most impressive
frescoes. Yaroslavl is the site of the Volkov Theatre (built
1750), the oldest theater in Russia, and the Demidovsky
Pillar. The city has many Russian Orthodox churches, one
Russian Old Believers church, one Baptist church, one
Lutheran church, one mosque and one synagogue.
Kostroma is an historic city in central Russia, the
administrative centre of Kostroma Oblast. A part of the
Golden ring of the Russian towns, it is located at the
confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers. Population:
Built in 1559-1565, the five-domed Epiphany Cathedral was
the first stone edifice in the city; its medieval frescoes
perished during a fire several years ago. The minster houses
the city's most precious relic, a 10th-century Byzantine
icon called Our Lady of St. Theodore. It was with this icon
that Mikhail Romanov was blessed by his mother when he left
for Moscow to claim the Russian throne. They say that just
before the Revolution the icon blackened so badly that the
image was hardly visible; it was interpreted as a bad sign
for the Romanov dynasty.
The Ipatievsky monastery survives mostly intact, with its
16th-century walls, towers, belfry, and the 17th-century
cathedral. Apart from the monasteries, most of the city
churches were either rebuilt or demolished during the Soviet
years. The only city church that survives from the
17th-century "golden age" is the of gold instead. He
resolved that the unearned gold was the devil's gift and
decided to spend it on building a church, beautiful within
and without. Two other 17th-century temples, of rather
conventional architecture, may be seen on the opposite side
of the Volga. Among the vestiges of the Godunov rule, a fine
tent-like church in the village Krasnoe-on-the-Volga may be
Ivanovo is a city and the administrative center of Ivanovo
Oblast, Russia. Population: 406,465. Ivanovo has
traditionally been called the textile capital of Russia.
Since most textile workers are women, it has also been known
as the "City of Brides". Probably the most famous of the
city's female natives was the postmodern French writer
Nathalie Sarraute. It is home to Ivanovo Severny, which is
one of the largest military airlift bases in Russia.
Civilian air services are provided at Ivanovo Yuzhny Airport.
Ivanovo was created by merging the old flax-processing
village Ivanovo (first documented in 1561) with the
industrial Voznesensky Posad in 1871. Until 1932, its
official name was Ivanovo-Voznesensk. Because of its textile
manufacturing industry, Ivanovo earned the sobriquet of the
"Russian Manchester" during the 19th century.
By the early 20th century, Ivanovo competed with Łódź (also
a part of the Russian Empire at that time) for the title of
the primary textile production centre in Europe. As the
workers' living conditions were appalling, the strikes were
frequent. One of these strikes led to the first Russian
revolution. According to the Soviet historiography, e.g.,
Great Soviet Encyclopedia, article "Soviets of Workers'
Deputies", the Ivanovo Soviet (created in May 1905) was one
of the first Soviets in the history.
Gus-Khrustalny is a town in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, located
on the Gus River (a tributary of the Oka River) 63
kilometers (39 mi) south of Vladimir. Population: 67,121.
The name of the town may be translated as "crystal goose",
for it is known as one of the oldest centers of glass
industry in Russia and stands on the Gus (Goose) River.
There are reasons to believe that its name is not derived
from goose directly, but rather from the common Slavic term
"goose" (in the respective languages) for a large (up to
several gallons) bottle.
Gus-Khrustalny was founded in the mid-18th century with the
construction of a crystal plant. It was granted town status
in 1931. Gus-Khrustalny is one of the towns of the Golden
Suzdal is a town in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, situated
north-east of Moscow, 26 kilometers (16 mi) from the city of
Vladimir, on the Kamenka River. Population: 11,357.
The history of the town dates back to at least the year
1024. For centuries it functioned as the capital of several
Russian principalities. It forms part of the Golden Ring. It
was granted city status in 1777.
After a decline in political importance, the town rose in
prominence as a religious center with numerous monasteries
and a remarkable ratio of churches to citizens: at one point,
forty churches for four hundred families. Today, the town
operates as an important tourist center, featuring many fine
examples of old Russian architecture most of them churches
and monasteries. Walking through the town one might get the
feeling that every third building is a church. Although
having over ten thousand residents, Suzdal still retains the
look and feel of a small village with streams and meadows
everywhere nearby, and chicken and livestock a common sight
on the city streets, some of which are unpaved. This
juxtaposition of stunning medieval architecture with its
pastoral setting lends Suzdal a picturesque charm, and in
the summer artists and easels are a common sight.
In March, the Suzdal tourist centre is home to the Open
Russian Festival of Animated Film. The Cathedral of the
Nativity in Suzdal is one of the eight White Monuments of
Vladimir and Suzdal, a World Heritage Site.
Vladimir is a city in Russia, located on the Klyazma River,
200 kilometers (124 mi) to the east of Moscow along the M7
motorway. It is the administrative center of Vladimir Oblast.
Population: 315,954. Vladimir was one of the medieval
capitals of Russia, and two of its cathedrals are a World
Heritage Site. It is served by Vladimir Semyazino Airport,
and during the Cold War Vladimir was host to Dobrynskoye air
Modern Vladimir is a part of the Golden ring of the ancient
Russian cities and a significant tourist center. Its three
chief monuments, White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal,
inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage List, are the
1.The magnificent five-domed Assumption Cathedral was
designed as a sepulcher of grand princes and dedicated to
the holy icon Theotokos of Vladimir, which had been brought
to the city by Andrew the Pious. The cathedral was
constructed in 11581160, expanded in 11851189, and painted
by the great Andrei Rublev and Daniil Chyorny in 1408. In
1810, they added a lofty bell-tower in Neoclassical style.
2.The warrior-like cathedral of St. Demetrius was built in
11941197 as a private chapel of Vsevolod the Big Nest in
the courtyard of his palace and was consecrated to his holy
patron, St. Demetrius. For all its formal unity, the
cathedral represents a truly international project of
Russian and Byzantine masters, Friedrich Barbarossa's masons,
and carvers sent by Queen Tamar of Georgia.
3.The Golden Gate, originally a tower over the city's main
gate, was built in 11581164. The gate acquired its present
form after having been grossly reconstructed in the late
18th century, to prevent the dilapidated structure from
Rybinsk is the second largest city of Yaroslavl Oblast,
Russia. It lies at the confluence of the Volga and Sheksna
rivers. Population: 213,000.
Rybinsk is one of the oldest Slavic settlements on the Volga
River. The place was first noticed by chroniclers in 1071 as
Ust-Sheksna, i.e. "the mouth of the Sheksna". For the next
four centuries, the settlement was referred to alternatively
as Ust-Sheksna or Rybansk. Since 1504, it was mentioned in
documents as Rybnaya Sloboda (literally: "the fishing
village"). The name is explained by the fact that the
settlement supplied the Muscovite court with choice
sturgeons and sterlets.
In the 17th century, when the sloboda was capitalizing on
the trade of the Muscovy Company with Western Europe, it was
rich enough to build several stone churches, of which only
one survives to the present. More old architecture may be
found in the neighbourhood, including the very last of
Muscovite three-tented churches (in the Alexandrov
Hermitage) and the Ushakov family shrine (on the Epiphany
Uglich is a historic town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, on
the Volga River. Population: 38,260. A local tradition dates
the town's origins to 937. It was first documented in 1148
as Ugliche Pole (Corner Field). The town's name is thought
to allude to the nearby turn in the Volga River.
Uglich had been the seat of a small princedom from 1218
until 1328 when the local princes sold their rights to the
great prince of Moscow. As a border town of Muscovy, it was
burnt several times by Lithuanians, Tatars and the grand
prince of Tver.
Grand Duke Ivan III of Moscow gave the town to his younger
brother Andrei Bolshoi in 1462. During Andrei's reign the
town was expanded and first stone buildings were constructed.
Particularly notable were the cathedral (rebuilt in 1713),
the Intercession Monastery (destroyed by the Bolsheviks) and
the red-brick palace of the prince (completed in 1481 and
During the reign of Ivan the Terrible the town passed to his
only brother, Yuri. Local inhabitants helped the tsar to
capture Kazan by building a wooden fortress which was
transported by the Volga all the way to Kazan. Throughout
the 16th century Uglich prospered both politically and
economically, but thereafter its fortunes began to decline.
After Ivan's death, his youngest son Dmitry Ivanovich was
banished to Uglich in 1584. The most famous event in the
town's history took place on May 15, 1591 when the 10-year
old boy was found dead with his throat cut in the palace
courtyard. Suspicion immediately fell on the tsar's chief
advisor, Boris Godunov. Official investigators concluded
however that Dimitriy's death was an accident. They cut a "tongue"
from the cathedral bell that rung the news of Dimitriy's
death and "exiled" it to Siberia.
As Dimitry was the last scion of the ancient Rurik dynasty,
his death precipitated the dynastic and political crisis
known as the Time of Troubles. People readily believed that
Dimitriy was alive and supported several False Dmitriys (see
False Dmitriy I, False Dmitriy II, False Dmitriy III) who
tried to grab the Muscovite throne. During the Time of
Troubles, the Poles besieged the Alexeievsky and Uleima
monasteries and burned them down killing all the populace
who had sought refuge inside.
Alexandrov is a town in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, 120
kilometers (75 mi) north-east of Moscow. Population: 64,824.
Alexandrov Kremlin served as the capital of Russia for three
months (December 1564 to February 1565) under Tsar Ivan the
Terrible until he agreed to return his court and the relics
of Moscow which he had taken with him. Ivan agreed to return
after the church gave him permission to found the Oprichnina.
It was granted town status in 1778.