06/2011 - Russian Federation, Golden Ring

3-day trip to the Russian Federation – Golden Ring – visiting the cities of Vladimir, Bogolyubovo, Suzdal, Plyos, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Rostov- Veliky , Pereslavl -Zalessky , Sergiev Posad

When we stopped in Moscow we found high temperatures and a very few clouds, but the morning in which we left to visit the Golden Ring, the weather got back to normal.
It was cloudy and rainy and temperature had dropped to 14 degrees .

The first visited city was Vladimir which had been, in 1200, the capital of Russia.
In Vladimir there is a railway station of the Trans-Siberian railway line which is longer than nine thousand kilometers.
The most representative monuments of the city are: the white majestic Assumption Cathedral, the smaller Cathedral of St. Demetrius, very nice because its exterior walls are decorated with magnificent bas-reliefs, and the equestrian statue of Vladimir Monomakh who founded the city .

Leaving the town of Vladimir, we visited Bogolyubovo a few kilometers farther.
We could notice the great Monastery of the Nuns that was a fortified palace built in the middle of 1100.
After crossing the Trans-Siberian railway, following a path of about one kilometer , we visited the white and refined Church of the Intercession placed in a very suggestive position on the bank of the River Nerl. The church is decorated on the exterior walls with beautiful bas-reliefs.

The town of Suzdal , which I called ” The Vatican ” of Russia , is situated in the middle of a green and undulated plain. Placed outside of the main roads and the railway network , the town has maintained a special atmosphere and time seems to have stopped.
Suzdal is considered an important religious center and we could visit numerous monasteries and beautiful churches.
The Kremlin is represented mainly by the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin with beautiful blue domes with golden stars; it dates back to 1220. Particularly interesting, indoor, the copper doors decorated with golden damask.
The Market Square has aroused our interest because it is well-preserved as it was centuries ago maintaining the old pavement and the porch under which we could still find ancient shops .
We noticed some farmers selling a few onions or a few potatoes all lined up on a low wall .

The Church of St. Lazarus and Antipas, which dates back to 1667, is characterized by its multicoloured tower and the Cathedral of the Intercession, inside the Convent of the Nuns, was founded in 1300 to house the repudiated wives of the Tsar.

The Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius was built in the fourteenth century and expanded continuously until it was surrounded by a boundary wall . Within the town-wall there are many buildings such as hospitals and prisons.
Among the minor churches I remember the Prophet Elijah Church, St. Nicholas Church , St. Alexander Church and others.

Suzdal has maintained intact its old town-planning and it continues to grow because they still go on building traditional izbas .
We went to visit a considerable number of izbas: many restored and others newly built .

Suzdal is the best place they could choose as seat of the open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture .

Continuing northwards , we visited Plyos, an ancient fishing village on the banks of the Volga River, famous because they supplied of fish the kitchens of the Tsar.
At the end of 1800 Plyos became one of the favorite holiday destinations of the prestigious persons of the Russian culture. Today it is a holiday resort and a halting-place of river cruises .

Kostroma city center is characterized by a fire-observation watchtower still in use and it is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Around the city center there is the picturesque quartier Susaninskaya Ploshchad characterized by long and low buildings with porches.
The original wooden quartier, destroyed by fire, has been reconstructed but in another material. Now it is formed by a large number of shops, above all craft shops, which are not completely rebuilt yet. Not to be missed the statue of the beloved Lenin (beloved all over Russia ).
The most significant monument of the city is the Ipatiev Monastery, within it there is the Holy Trinity Cathedral adorned with many important frescoes .
Another important monument is the Epiphany Cathedral (under restoration) where the icon of Our Lady of Fyodor is kept.

The Monastery of Yaroslavl was founded in the twelfth century and is still well preserved. The Sacred Gate is very important. Beautiful golden domes stand out from the Church.
The Church of the Nativity offers a beautiful sight with its green- painted domes which stand out from the white church.

The Church of Elijah the Prophet , built by wealthy local merchants , is enriched with frescoes of great beauty.
The recent Assumption Cathedral is spectacular for the size and beauty of its golden domes.
We went for a nice walk along the banks of the rivers Volga and Kotorosl . At the end, passing the gardens and beyond Kotorosl , we visited the Church of St. John Chrysostom so dear to the Venetians.

The ancient and peaceful Rostov- Veliky (Rostov the Great ) welcomed us with its unpaved roads and we could not expect the beauty of the Kremlin that stands out impressive , with its high white walls .
The interior gardens and the “Church – Gate” Odigitri are wonderful . The Assumption Cathedral was the first building made and was later incorporated into the Kremlin complex . The bell tower is separate and contains 15 playing bells, each with a different sound; the largest bell weights 32 tons.

The North Gate of Rostov Kremlin is a massive building in which five golden domes stand out . Inside there is a museum with collections of enamelled objects . The huge stair of the Tsar enriches the main courtyard of the Kremlin.

In the outskirts of the city, on the shores of Lake Nero , we visited the Monastery of St. Jacob. The homonymous Church with its multi-coloured domes is very suggestive, whereas the Church of St. Demetrius has got green domes.
At the entrance we found a rural atmosphere with a beautiful silver-domed Church .

On the shores of Lake Pleshcheyevo, we visited the small town of Pereslavl -Zalessky famous both for being the birthplace of Alexander Nevsky and for the white Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior which dates back to 1152, the Church of Our Lady of Vladimir and the Church of A. Nevsky .

The city of Sergiev Posad was built after the Monastery in order to give support to the large number of pilgrims who visited the Monastery .
The first three pictures of the gallery show the city and the ever-present monument to Lenin.
The Monastery was founded in 1300 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh and is now known as Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius . For the large number of pilgrims the monastery soon became a “Lavra”, that is to say “eminent” .
The Russian nobility (including the Tsar) and the rich merchants began to visit this monastery and enriched it with their important gifts.
As a result St. Sergius became the patron saint of Russia.

We entered the Monastery through the gate called Beautiful Tower in which it is incorporated the Church of St. John the Baptist.
The inner spaces offer overviews of various and important monuments.

This huge building was originally the refectory of the pilgrims, today it is the winter home of the Assumption Cathedral.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral houses the remains of Saint Sergius and there are many icons that adorn its interior, most of them are works of Andrei Rublyov .

The Assumption Cathedral has blue domes decorated with golden stars which are very peculiar . Quite characteristics are also the Chapel Well , the Belltower, the Sacred Spring and the fourteenth-century Holy Spirit Church.

Many monks were walking along the paths of the monastery.
I tried to catch them in their spontaneous everyday life.

I conclude this photo gallery showing the most significant monumental towns of the Golden Ring with shots that represent the most curious aspects of the trip.