28 April, 2014
Located in the north-east of Moscow, the Golden Ring is the space between the Volga and Kliazma, bounded by former princely cities, namely:
– Rostov Veliky
– Sergiev Posad
It is quite obvious to ask the question: why this name? The ring, of course, because of its geographical situation: a circle shape, connecting all the cities together.
Then, there is a particularly fertile ground that played a significant role in the development of Russia. Another considerable advantage is its geographical position on the river routes giving it an early strategic position of prime importance. Many of these cities saw exceptional growth as evidenced by the many monuments of ancient architecture from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries. They are now real “open-air” museums, those kept over the centuries, in memory of the most important events in Russian history.
Rostov is one of the oldest towns in Russia and an important tourist centre of the Golden Ring because of Rostov Kremlin in the centre of the city and the 17th century ring.
Kostroma also has a substantial heritage: the Church of the Resurrection (1652) is a perfect example of Russian art from the 17th century. You can also visit the Cathedral of the Epiphany (1565), housing a Byzantine icon of the 10th century, called Our Lady of St. Theodore (Russian: Федоровская Богоматерь). An anecdote: Michael Romanov was blessed by his mother with this icon before leaving for Moscow to claim the throne of Russia. It is said that just before the revolutionary events, the icon darkened to the point that the image had become virtually invisible. This was interpreted as a bad omen for the Romanov dynasty.
The city of Sergiev Posad (Zagorsk from 1930 to 1991) is best known for its orthodox monastery (Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius). The monastery is considered as the heart of Russian Orthodoxy, since it was founded in the fourteenth century by St. Sergius of Radonezh, patron saint of Russia. In the fifteenth century, the place acquired its true status of Lavra and in the sixteenth century, Ivan the Terrible built an imposing set of buildings and churches.
Suzdal is the cradle of the Russian state as its princes, first princes of Vladimir and then of Moscow, were the rallying people of “All the Russias” before taking the title of tsar. The Suzdal Kremlin with its religious buildings representing the religious and princely powers, is a remarkable monument of the Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO as part of the Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal (Today, a Museum-reserve).
Vladimir, founded in 1108 by Vladimir Monomakh II, became the centre of the principality of Vladimir-Suzdal when the son of Monomakh, Yuri Dolgoruky, Duke of Suzdal, the future founder of Moscow, moved the seat of power of the Great Princes of Russia from Kiev to Vladimir.
As you can see, the Golden Ring is full of religious monuments but is also steeped in history. The true cradle of Russia, it is highly advisable to take a walk either for a weekend or for a day (just a 1 hour journey to Sergei Posad, from Yaroslavl Station)