Golden Ring   WHAT IS THE GOLDEN RING: 'The Golden Ring' is one of the oldest Russian routes. It goes to the north-east of Moscow and forms a circle. There are many interesting ancient Russian cities and towns along the way, full of history and unique Russian architecture of the XII-XVII centuries. The 'classical' route (counter clockwise) starts from Moscow, goes through Vladimir, Suzdal, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Rostov Velikiy, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Sergiev Posad. All cities and towns are located relatively close to each other, the 'Golden Ring' forms a ring, so from one place you can reach to another and make a circle until you get back to the one you started with. Probably, most often you'll use buses to move along the golden ring, sometimes you 'll use trains. You can also 'make' the golden ring trip by car. WHY GO THERE? Russian History & Architecture. The 'Golden Ring' route is known for the famous old cities and towns along the way, so one of the reasons to go.  There is to see Russian architecture, old churches made of white stone, hear the bellring, see old fortifications, fortresses, beautiful monasteries, and learn more about history of Russia. For such trip, the 'classical' route (Vladimir, Suzdal, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Rostov, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Sergiev Posad) will be the most interesting. Just be careful: there are so many churches and monasteries, that it can become too much. Russian Countryside. If you're staying a few weeks in the busy Moscow, you might feel like taking a little break from the pollution, the cars and the noise of the capital after a moment. In the trip to the smallest towns of the 'Golden Ring' you will get to see calmer, slower, more peaceful life, walk around hilly countryside, and just rest. For such trip Suzdal and Rostov Veliky (both 3-4 hours by train or by bus from Moscow) are the best. Provincial Russia. Also, you'll be interested in going to the biggest towns of the Golden Ring, if you want to experience another, provincial way of  life in Russia. Such towns as Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kostroma, Yaroslavl can get you a pick of the Russian province: more traditional way of life, not yet as much westernized, fancy, and hectic as the big cities, with some relics of the Soviet times. Pereslavl Rostov Kostroma Vladimir Yaroslavl Sergiev Posad Suzdal Copyright © 2009 Euroest Travel. All rights reserved. SUZDAL: A calm ancient Russian town 38 kilometers north of Vladimir with around 13 thousand inhabitants. Suzdal is officially protected from the industries, and the old architecture and buildings are kept intact. The hilly green town is very seducing, walking around is a pleasure, the monasteries and old beautiful churches offer dreaming views. You can even camp freely along the small river 'Kamenka' that goes through the town, or next to the Kremlin or next to a monastery. Suzdal is the most similar to Rostov-Velikiy of all the towns along the Golden Ring, and the two towns are located almost the same distance from Moscow (though in different directions). KOSTROMA: A surprisingly calm and inviting town, located on Volga river, 120 kilometers north of Ivanovo. The interest is to walk around the town, especially early morning, or late evening, and see the Ipatiev's Monastery on the other side of Volga. The city was first recorded in the chronicles for the year 1213, but historians believe it could have been founded by Yury Dolgoruky more than half a century earlier. Like other towns of the Eastern Rus, Kostroma was sacked by the Mongols in 1238. It then constituted a small principality, under leadership of Prince Vasily the Drunkard, a younger brother of the famous Alexander Nevsky. Upon inheriting the grand ducal title in 1271, Vasily didn't leave the town for Vladimir, and his  descendants ruled Kostroma for another half a century, until the town was bought by Ivan I of Moscow. As one of the northernmost towns of Muscovy, Kostroma served for grand dukes as a place of retreat when enemies besieged Moscow in 1382, 1408, and 1433. In 1375, the town was looted by Novgorod pirates ("ushkuiniki"). The spectacular growth of the city in the 16th century may be attributed to the establishment of trade connections with English and Dutch merchants (Muscovy Company) through the northern port of Archangel. Boris Godunov had the Ipatievsky and Epiphany monasteries rebuilt in stone. The construction works were finished just in time for the city to witness some of the most dramatic events of the Time of Troubles. SERGIEV POSAD (ZAGORSK): Sergiev Posad is one of most interesting towns in the Moscow Region. It occupies an exceptionally prominent place in Russian culture and history. The town of painters, wood-carvers, toy-makers developed from the villages and settlements nearby the Trinity-St Sergius Laura - one of the ancient and most revered Russian monasteries, a historic center of Russian Orthodox. The picturesque complex of buildings of the Trinity-St Sergius Laura, which has organically blended with the lovely surrounding scenery, has been shaped in the course of several centuries. In 1993, the monastery architectural ensemble was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. VLADIMIR: The first town of the Golden Ring, 179 kilometers to the east of Moscow with 378 thousand people living there. It is located on the railway to Nizhniy Novgorod, and it is the first stop along the Trans-Siberian route. Vladimir is an old Russian town, it used to be capital of Russia in the 12th century. Vladimir was founded in 1108 by Vladimir Monomakh. Later it became the center of Vladimir-Suzdal principality, when Monomakh's son Yuri Dolgorukii moved the seat of Great Princes of Russia from Kiev to Vladimir. The city's period of greatest importance was probably in the late 12th and early 13 century, up to the Mongol invasion. Several of Russia's greatest architectural monuments were built in Vladimir during this time. YAROSLAVL: Yaroslavl got its name from Yaroslav Mudry, who founded the town in the beginning of 11th century, at the place where Volga river meets Kotorosl. Now it is a large industrial city, the biggest along the Golden Ring (630000 inhabitants), nevertheless very interesting because of its history, architecture, and city life.    Yaroslavl lies at the intersection of several major highways, railways, and waterways. Preceded by Viking sites such as Timerevo from the 8th or 9th centuries, the city is said to have been founded in 1010 as an outpost of the Principality of Rostov Veliky, and was first mentioned in 1071. Capital of an independent principality from 1218, it was incorporated into Muscovy in 1463. In the 17th century it was Russia's second largest city, and for a time (during the Polish occupation of Moscow in 1612), the country's de facto capital. Today, Yaroslavl is an important industrial center (petrochemical plant, tire manufacturing plant, diesel engines plant and many others).     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 (built of red brick, with bright tiled exteriors). Those of St. Nicholas Nadein and Elijah the Prophet have some of the Golden ring's most impressive frescoes. ROSTOV VELIKIY: An ancient Russian town located on the 'Nero' lake. The history of this place started 4 thousand years BC, when the first tribes stayed next to the lake. Until the 11th century the territory of Rostov was inhabited by the Finn-Ugors 'Meryans' people, and the city of Rostov was founded by them (it is known since the 9th century). Slowly they assimilated with the Slavs, who came from the south. Rostov Veliky is one of the oldest Russian towns. It is located on the shore of the biggest lake in Yaroslavl region: 'Nero' lake. People were living on the present territory of Rostov even 4 thousand years BC, in the stone age, when the settlements of the people were scattered around 'Nero' lake. These people were worshipping bears, elks, and other animals. The territory next to 'Nero' lake had always been quite densily inhabited in the old times by different tribes, but they were settling there not for very long periods, so one tribe was coming here after the other. Appart from its history Rostov is renowned for its enamels. Now it is a small town (32 thousand inhabitants), old buildings, the Kremlin, and authentic Russian architecture. PERESLAVL-ZALESSKIY  is one of the ancient cities of central Russia. The town was founded in 1152 by prince Yury Dolgoruky. It is located halfway between Moscow and Yaroslavl, about 130 km North-East of Moscow on the bank of Pleshcheevo Lake. Here, in 1693, young Peter the Great constructed a "funny fleet" which became a prototype of the first Russian fleet on the Baltic sea. Pereslavl-Zalessky is the southernmost town of Yaroslavl region and belongs to the Golden Ring of the historical cities of Russia. The pearl of its architecture is the Cathedral of Transfiguration of the Saviour