GOLDEN RING of Russia- Travel Guide, Part 1Written by TravelMake.com
WHAT IS IT: The so called "Golden Ring of Russia" is a symbolical ring connecting historical towns and cities to 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 Suzdal's open air museum. Each of "golden" towns once played an important role in history of Russia and was conected in one way or another with famous historical figures such as Alexander Nevsky, Ivan Terrible, Peter Great and many others. If you would like to see true, patriarchal Russia, to experience grandeur of nature and magnificence of ancient towns then a Golden Ring tour is well worth taking. It is one of most popular routes among Russian and foreign lovers of old Russian history and architecture.
WHAT TO SEE: The cities and towns of Golden Ring are listed here in alphabetical order:
Aleksandrov (founded in 1530, population 68,000) - The town is situated 100 km from Moscow on crossway of ancient roads from largest historic centers of Russia - Vladimir and Suzdal, Rostov and Yaroslavl, Sergiev Posad and Pereyaslavl-Zalessky. In 1564- 1581 town was residence of Ivan Terrible. In Aleksandrov tsar proclaimed establishment of his select, terror-inspiring corps, Oprichniki and signed harsh conditions of truce with Poland and Sweden after losing long war with Livonia. From Aleksandrov Ivan Terrible led his army of Oprichniki to strike at big trade centres of Novgorod, Pskov, Klin and Tver. Here 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 leading textile manufacturing centres in Russia in 19th century.
Bogolubovo (founded in 990, population 4,000) - a tiny quiet town near city of Vladimir. The town was named after Russian prince Andrey Bogolubsky (God-loving) who built first fortified settlement here in 1165. It was a strategically important point overlooking Kliazma River. Tourists can see remains of Andery Bogolubsky's residence including some residential chambers of 12th century and beautiful Church of Intercession of Virgin on Nerl (1165) which is considered to be one of finest specimens of old Russian architecture.
Gorohovets (founded in 1239, population 30,000) - The town was founded under Vladimir prince Andrey Bogolubsky. The town is picturesquely settled on high bank of Klyazma River. Played role as a fortified forepost until 1600-s. Reached its developmental pick in 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.
Gus-Khrustalny (founded in 1756, population 80,000) - Over 200 years ago a merchant built here first workshop of glass casting. Today town is one of district centers of Vladimir region, well-known in Russia and abroad as national center of glassmaking. The name Gus-Krustalny can be literally translated as Chrystalline Goose. The old part of town is a workmen's settlement of 1900-s. with its own Church of St. Joachim of 1816.
Kholuy (founded 1650, population 1,000) - The village of Kholui did not begin producing lacquered miniatures until 1930s, and though iconography had been an important trade in 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, pigments used are opaque and background is usually fully painted. Sometimes, as with Palekh miniatures, Kholui miniatures will include some fine gold and/or silver ornamentation within 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 (founded in 1213, population 300,000) - In past Kostroma was known as "the flax capital of north"; it supplied Europe with world's finest sail-cloth. The city has been also called as "cradle of Romanov dynasty". Mikhail Romanov, first of Romanov dynasty, left Ipatievsky Monastery for Moscow in 1613 to become tsar of Russia. During Polish intervention in turbulent years of early seventeenth century Kostroma was a significant stronghold for resistance movement. The city is spreaded on left bank of Volga river. Nowadays Kostroma is an important industrial center (textile, metal works), a capital city of Kostroma province.
Mstera (founded in 1628, population 6,000) - town takes its name from little Msterka River, which flows through it merging with Kliyazma. It is in Vladimir Region, but not far from border with Ivanovo Region, south of Palekh and Kholui, in breathtakingly beautiful countryside - one that forms backdrop to its paintings. Mstera was a respected center of icon production until trade was banned after Revolution of 1917. Since then its artists has been creating world-famous masterpieces in form of lacquered miniatures. In keeping with traditions of iconography, egg tempera paints are still used. The landscape is of central importance to painting with people and objects integrated to setting. Mstera paintings are frequently larger than those from 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, traditional fairy tales, traditional activities and events such as a winter festival, and sometimes portraiture.
GOLDEN RING of Russia - Travel Guide, Part 2Written by TravelMake.com
Sergiev Posad (founded in 1345, population 115,000) - spiritual center of Russia, residence of Patriarch of Russian Orthodox Church, where remains of first national saint, Sergei Radonezh, rests. In 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 treasures in vaults of former Trinity Monastery.
Suzdal (founded in 1024, population 12,000) - this little quiet town is a real gem, one of most beautiful in Golden Ring collection of citeis and towns. In 11th century Suzdal became very first forepost of Christianity in North-Eastern Russia and significantly affected religious life in Russia until end of 19 century. The town was destroyed by Mongols in 1238. Later Suzdal became capital city of Russian prince Yury Dolgoruky who is considered to be founder of Moscow. The second destruction of town came with Polish invasion in 17th century. Here you can find over 100 church and secular buildings dating from mid-12th to mid-19th century crowded into a area of 9 square km.
Tutaev (founded in 1283, population 45,000) - is an old little town sprawling on both banks of Volga river. Tutaev (formerly known as Romanovo-Borisoglebsk) is divided by Volga river into two parts. The former town Romanov is located on left high bank of river, former town Borisoglebsk is on right sloping one. Romanov was called after Russian prince Roman of Uglich who was founder of this town, Borisoglebsk got its name in connection with Church of St. Boris and St. Gleb erected there in 15th century. The towns were united under new name Romanovo-Borisoglebsk in 1822. In 1918 town's name was changed to Tutaev in honour of Red Army hero who was killed during Civil war .
Uglich (founded in 937, population 38,000) - town was built on a major trade route. In its history Uglich has survived destruction by Mongols and lived through devastation of fires and plagues. Uglich is famous for Russia's darkest secret - death of young Prince Dimitri, son of Ivan Terrible who is often called Tsarevich (a heir to throne) Dmitry. The Tsarevich, a sickly boy, was last of Rurik dynasty. While playing with a knife in yard he stabbed himself by accident or was stabbed by an assassin allegedly sent by Boris Godunov, his competitor for throne. The center of town also is a historical and architectural landmark. The streets are wide, with various churches standing side by side along road. These churches vary in size and have domes and belfries of different shapes and designs, all of which add to 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 bands of watches.
Vladimir (founded in 1108, population 400,000) - one of oldest Russian cities, was founded by Russian Prince Vladimir Monomakh on banks of Kliazma river. The city really blossomed in 12th century during 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 ones in "mother of all Russian cities"- Kiev. Until middle of 14th century city had been an administrative, cultural and religious center for North-Eastern Russia. During Mongol invasion in 13th century Vladimir was beseiged, looted and almost totally destroyed. Presently city is a capital of Vladimir province.
Yaroslavl (founded in 1010, population 600,000 ) - as legend goes it was founded by famous Russian prince Yaroslav Wise as a fortified settlement on Volga river. After a huge fire of 1658 that turned most of city into ruins, Jaroslavl was rebuilt in stone and reached peak of its architectural development with palaces and churches richly decorated with beautiful frescoes and ornaments thus earning title "Florence of Russia". The first Russian professional theater was established here by Volkov in 1750. Since 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 Jaroslav province and one of most beautiful cities of old Russia.