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GOLDEN RING of Russia - Travel Guide, Part 2
|Sergiev Posad (founded in 1345, population 115,000) - the spiritual center of Russia, residence of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, where the remains of the first national saint, Sergei Radonezh, rests. In the 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 the treasures in the vaults of the former Trinity Monastery.
Suzdal (founded in 1024, population 12,000) - this little quiet town is a real gem, one of the most beautiful in the Golden Ring collection of citeis and towns. In the 11th century Suzdal became the very first forepost of Christianity in the North-Eastern Russia and significantly affected the religious life in Russia until the end of 19 century. The town was destroyed by Mongols in 1238. Later Suzdal became the capital city of Russian prince Yury Dolgoruky who is considered to be the founder of Moscow. The second destruction of the town came with the Polish invasion in the 17th century. Here you can find over 100 church and secular buildings dating from the mid-12th to the 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 the Volga river. Tutaev (formerly known as Romanovo-Borisoglebsk) is divided by the Volga river into two parts. The former town Romanov is located on the left high bank of the river, the former town Borisoglebsk is on the right sloping one. Romanov was called after the Russian prince Roman of Uglich who was the founder of this town, Borisoglebsk got its name in connection with the Church of St. Boris and St. Gleb erected there in the 15th century. The towns were united under the new name Romanovo-Borisoglebsk in 1822. In 1918 the town's name was changed to Tutaev in honour of the Red Army hero who was killed during the Civil war .
Uglich (founded in 937, population 38,000) - the town was built on a major trade route. In its history Uglich has survived destruction by the Mongols and lived through the devastation of fires and plagues. Uglich is famous for Russia's darkest secret - the death of young Prince Dimitri, son of Ivan the Terrible who is often called Tsarevich (a heir to the throne) Dmitry. The Tsarevich, a sickly boy, was the last of the Rurik dynasty. While playing with a knife in the yard he stabbed himself by accident or was stabbed by an assassin allegedly sent by Boris Godunov, his competitor for the throne. The center of the town also is a historical and architectural landmark. The streets are wide, with various churches standing side by side along the road. These churches vary in size and have domes and belfries of different shapes and designs, all of which add to the 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 the bands of the watches.
Vladimir (founded in 1108, population 400,000) - one of the oldest Russian cities, was founded by the Russian Prince Vladimir Monomakh on the banks of the Kliazma river. The city really blossomed in the 12th century during the 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 the ones in the "mother of all Russian cities"- Kiev. Until the middle of 14th century the city had been an administrative, cultural and religious center for North-Eastern Russia. During the Mongol invasion in the 13th century Vladimir was beseiged, looted and almost totally destroyed. Presently the city is a capital of the Vladimir province.
Yaroslavl (founded in 1010, population 600,000 ) - as the legend goes it was founded by the famous Russian prince Yaroslav the Wise as a fortified settlement on the Volga river. After a huge fire of 1658 that turned most of the city into ruins, Jaroslavl was rebuilt in stone and reached the peak of its architectural development with palaces and churches richly decorated with beautiful frescoes and ornaments thus earning the title "Florence of Russia". The first Russian professional theater was established here by Volkov in 1750. Since the 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 the Jaroslav province and one of the most beautiful cities of old Russia.
Yuriev-Polsky (founded in 1152, population 20,000) - was founded by the Prince Yury Dolgoruky (who also founded Moscow in 1147) and named after himself. The second word "Polsky" means "among the fields" as it is situated in the heart of fertile and flat Suzdal land. These beautiful landscapes inspired the great painters and writers such as Repin, Tyutchev, Odoevsky, Soloukhin. Local textile centre since the 18th century.
HOW TO GET THERE: By plane to Moscow. From Moscow you can travel the cities and towns of the Golden Ring either by a tour bus or by a river cruise ship. The last option limits the number of towns that you can visit as they have to be situated close to the Volga river. We recommend you to take a bus tour for 3 to 10 days depending on your stamina and level of interest in Russian history. A typical 3-4-day tour from Moscow covers up to 7 cities and towns of the Golden Ring. You travel during the day time in a comfortable bus with a well-trained English-speaking guide and spend nights at hotels with Western-class service (usually- 3 star). The Golden Ring tour can be perfectly combined with 2-3 day program in Moscow. Almost every major travel agency in Moscow sells Golden Ring tours and it is much cheaper to buy them on the spot in Russia then to purchase a tour included into a vacation package from Europe or overseas. Communication is not a problem, these days all personnel in respectable agencies in Russia speak English.
WHEN TO GO: The best season to travel to Russia is summer, from June to August, the warmest time of the year there. Rains are usual during summers, do not forget to pack your umbrella. Weather can be unpredictably cold, even in the European part of Russia, so take some warm clothing. You can check next week weather forecast for Moscow here.
TRAVEL TIPS: A passport and a Russian visa are required to travel in or transit through Russia. To learn more about how to obtain Russian visa please visit Russian Embassy website. Without a visa, travelers cannot register at hotels and may be required to leave the country immediately via the route by which they entered, at the cost of the traveler. Russian customs officers strictly follow document regulations so travelers are advised to have all papers in order. It is also recommended that additional copies of passport and visa be kept in a safe place in case of loss or theft. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash/dollar payment for health services at Western rates so supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage is very useful. Travelers should be certain that all immunizations are up-to-date, especially for diphtheria and typhoid. Quality of tap water varies from city to city but normally is quite poor. Only boiled or bottled water should be drunk throughout Russia. Crime against foreigners in Russia continues to be a problem, especially in major cities. Pick pocketing, assaults, and robberies occur. Foreigners who have been drinking alcohol are especially vulnerable to assault and robbery in or around night clubs or bars, or on their way home. Robberies may occur in taxis shared with strangers. Be aware that public washrooms are difficult to find, and usually you have to pay there. To use a public phone you will need a token or local card. International calls can not be made from street phones. Your mobile phone will work in Moscow and Saint Petersburg but seldom in regional cities. Taxi fee must be discussed with a driver before a journey. In the major cities you can rent a car if you do not mind fairly rugged road conditions, a few hassles finding petrol, getting lost now and then and paying high rent price. Public transport in Russia is quite good, cheap and easy to use though sometimes overcrowded. Restaurants seldom have a menu in English. Tipping is expected but not mandatory. Signs in English are common on the streets of Moscow and other big cities. In large cities it is not hard to find a passerby who can answer your questions in Engish. Electricity throughout Russia is 220 volt/50 hz. The plug is the two-pin thin European standard.
We wish you a safe and nice trip!
For more information, descriptions of main points of interest in every town of the Golden Ring, some photographs and useful links about Russian history please visit us: TravelMake.com
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