The Golden Ring of Russia:

A tour through the heart of Mother Russia

The Golden Ring of Russia includes the cities of Ivanovo, Kostroma, Pereslavl Zalessky, Rostov Veliky, Suzdal,  Vladimir, and Yaroslavl.

These ancient towns played a major role in the Russian history. Their history is also the history of the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church.  They are called “open-air museums”. They feature unique monuments of Russian architecture of the 12th–18th centuries, including kremlinsmonasteriescathedrals, and churches. These towns are among the most picturesque in Russia and prominently feature Russia’s onion domes.

The best way to visit the cities is with an organized tour. Fortunately, there are many tour operators offering 2-3 days packages to visit the Golden Ring departing from Moscow. The most visited cities are Sergiev Posad, Suzdal, and Vladimir,

Sergiyev Posad

Sergiyev Posad is located at 75km to the northeast of Moscow. The city grew around one of the greatest of Russian monasteries, The Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius.

The monastery is equivalent of the Vatican for the Russian Orthodox Church and has been a place of pilgrimage for Russian Orthodox believers for centuries.

To get there you can go by train from Moscow but the best way is to go with a private tour.

The Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius

The Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery was founded by St. Sergius of Radonezh in 1345. As a young man, Sergius decided to live his life as an ascetic monk in the forests outside Moscow. He and his brother built a small wooden church, which they dedicated to the Life-giving Trinity. Sergius was soon joined by others inspired by his pious lifestyle and eventually, a community began to grow and later a monastery was formed.

St. Sergius of Radonezh was canonized as a Saint in the early 14th Century. His tomb is located at the Trinity Cathedral and a memorial service for him takes place every day.

St John the Baptist's Gate-Church at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

St John the Baptist’s Gate-Church at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Holy Gates at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Holy Gates at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

St John the Baptist's Gate-Church at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

St John the Baptist’s Gate-Church at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Interior of the Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Interior of the Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The iconostasis of the Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The iconostasis of the Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Interior of the Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Interior of the Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Interior of the Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Interior of the Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Russian women at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Russian women at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The Refectory at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The Refectory at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Holly Springs at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Holly Springs at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The Sacristy at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The Sacristy at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The Church of Our Lady of Smolensk at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

The Church of Our Lady of Smolensk at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Kvass

Kvass is a traditional cold drink made by the Russians since medieval times. In summer you can see many yellow tanks in the streets selling this drink in plastic glasses or in bottles. It’s made by natural fermentation of bread and flavored with fruit, berries or raisins. The kvas sold in the monastery is considered the best brand.

Kvass at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Kvass at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Kvass at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Kvass at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Matryoshka dolls

Outside the monastery is a good place to buy the Russian nesting dolls or Matryoshka dolls for a good price. The town of Sergiyev Posad is famous for being the birthplace of these dolls. It has its own doll factory and is the best place to buy authentic high-quality matryoshki.

Russian dolls at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Russian dolls at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad

Suzdal

Suzdal is a little village located 219 km east of Moscow. During early medieval times, the town had great political importance being the capital of several Russian principalities. As its political importance declined the town rose as a religious center with many monasteries. Today Suzdal rural atmosphere and ancient architecture attract many tourists.

Museum Of Wooden Architecture & Peasant Life

This open-air museum shows what life was open for the average Russian peasant in the 18th and 19th centuries. It has about 20 reconstructed wooden buildings, including wooden churches, peasant’s houses, mills, a barn and a well brought here from all over Vladimir region’s villages.

House at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Mill at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Mill at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Churches at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Churches at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Church at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Church at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Inside a church at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Inside a church at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Church at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Church at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

House at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

House at the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life in Suzdal

Suzdal Kremlin

The Suzdal Kremlin is the oldest part of the city, dating from the 10th century. Like in many other cities in Russia, the Kremlin was originally a fortress and it’s the heart of the city. In the center of the Kremlin, there’s  The Cathedral of the Nativity dating from the 13th century.

Suzdal Kremlin

Suzdal Kremlin

Suzdal Kremlin

Suzdal Kremlin

Cathedral of the Nativity in Suzdal Kremlin

Cathedral of the Nativity in Suzdal Kremlin

Inside the Archbishop's Chambers in Suzdal Kremlin

Inside the Archbishop’s Chambers in Suzdal Kremlin

View from the bridge over the river Kamenka

View from the bridge over the river Kamenka

Monastery of Saint Euthymius

This monastery was founded in the 14th century. It reflects the might of the Russian Orthodox church in medieval times. In the interior of the seven-domed Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, there are beautifully restored frescoes,  dating from 1689.

Entrance Tower at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Entrance Tower at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Annunciation Gate-Church at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Annunciation Gate-Church at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral and Belfry at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral and Belfry at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Inside the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Inside the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Inside the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Inside the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Frescoes inside the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Frescoes inside the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Dormition Refectory Church at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Dormition Refectory Church at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral at the Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery Museum Complex in Suzdal

Vladimir

Vladimir endured a Mongol invasion in the 12th century from which it never fully recovered. When the power shifted to Moscow many princes still commissioned churches in Vladimir.

Dormition Cathedral (Assumption Cathedral)

Originally erected in 1158 to 1160, the cathedral survived the great devastation and fire of Vladimir in 1239, when the Mongol hordes of Batu Khan took hold of the capital.

The Dormition Cathedral (Assumption Cathedral) in Vladimir

The Dormition Cathedral (Assumption Cathedral) in Vladimir

A monument in honor of the 850th anniversary of Vladimir

A monument in honor of the 850th anniversary of Vladimir

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