A TOURIST “ROUTE” IS NOT SIMPLY A LINE CONNECTING DIFFERENT LOCATIONS ON THE MAP. CITIES AND SIGHTS ARE UNITED BY A SHARED IDEA OR CONCEPT THAT SETS THE MOOD FOR ANY TRIP. EVEN THE MOST £ BEAUTIFUL PLACES*WHEN CONNECTED ON A WELL THOUGHT-OUT ROUTE, WILL SPARKLE IN NEW COLOURS – LIKE PRECIOUS STONES THAT SHINE MORE BRIGHTLY WHEN LINKED IN SOME ORNAMENT. IT IS NO ACCIDENT THAT THE NAMES OF SOME OF THE BEST KNOWN RUSSIAN TOURIST ROUTES ARE NAMED AFTER JEWELLERY.

Antipyevskaya Сhurch (1745) and Lazarevskaya Сhurch (1667) in Suzdal.

PERHAPS THE MOST FAMOUS AND POPULAR ROUTE FOR FOREIGN TOURISTS IS THE “GOLDEN RING”, WHICH FIRST APPEARED SOME 50 YEARS AGO. THIS CLASSIC ROUTE INCLUDES THE ANCIENT CITIES TO THE NORTH-EAST OF MOSCOW, WHICH CAN INDEED BE COMBINED INTO A KIND OF RING.

Initially, this circle included Vladimir, Suzdal, Yaroslavl, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov the Great (Rostov Veliky), Kostroma, Ivanovo and Sergiyev Posad. But Uglich, Plyos, Yuryev-Polsky, Tutaev, Kalyazin, Myshkin, Rybinsk, Murom, Gus-Khrustalny, Palekh, Shuya, Gorokhovets, Bogolyubovo, Kideksha and Dmitrov were soon added, known now as “the towns of the Great Golden Ring”. Recently Suzdal Museum of Wooden Architecture.

In the city of Myshkin, Yaroslavl Region, the “mouse” brand is widespread.

Sergiyev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov the Great and Yaroslavl are also on one route. Ivanovo is traditionally combined with nearby Shuya and Palekh to visit the Ivanovo Chintz Museum and examine the lacquer miniatures in the Museum of Palekh Art. There is a series of programmes dedicated to the cities on the Volga, which offer entertainment for all ages and tastes, such as a tour along the Volga to the flooded Kalyazinsky belltower, a visit to the Ipatievsky Monastery of Kostroma, children’s interactive programmes in the “Myshkin Chambers”, and the house-museum of the artist Isaak Levitan in Plyos. In other words, the essence of Russian culture can be found in the central region of Russia.

One of the best souvenirs is the work of Palekh masters.

This programme allows you to visit the famous Church of the Intercession on the Nerl and admire the frescoes of Andrei Rublev in the Assumption Cathedral of Vladimir.

Kaluga and Kasimov also joined the list of “ring cities”, meaning that the map today is decorated with a whole “jewellery set” of such destinations.

Of course, all the cities of the Golden Ring cannot be included in one programme – that would involve a tour of eight regions. More often travellers choose one or two larger towns and supplement them with small settlements in the vicinity. The classic weekend trip is Vladimir, Bogolyubovo and Suzdal, although from Vladimir you can also go to Murom or Gus-Khrustalny. This programme allows you to visit the famous Church of the Intercession on the Nerl – a UNESCO monument – and admire the frescoes of Andrei Rublev in the Assumption Cathedral of Vladimir.

In the restaurant “Ryapushka” in Pereslavl-Zalessky.
At the monument to Peter and Fevronia of Murom.

Text: ANNA MAKAROVA

GETTING THERE

How to get there
It is most convenient to start any trip around the Golden Ring from Moscow. From there you drive along the Vladimir highway (now the M-7) to reach Vladimir, or along the M-8 in the direction of Yaroslavl. You can drive through Pereslavl-Zalessky and Rostov the Great, or the Sergiyev Posad area, then turn towards Kalyazin, and continue on to Uglich and Rybinsk. Most of the major settlements of the
Golden Ring can also be reached by electric train or regular buses.

Where to stay
It is impossible to list all the accommodation options in these “golden cities” – the ring is also very popular with Russian tourists – but there is a wide range of hotels of different levels. In Vladimir, you can stay in the park hotel “Voznesenskaya Sloboda” on a high hill with a beautiful view of the surrounding area, choose the more modest “Vladimir Yard” or “Monomakh”, or one of many hostels like “Air” or “Shankara”. Yaroslavl has the colourful “Alyosha Popovich Dvor” and “The Volga Pearl”, Kostroma the four-star “Golden Ring” and the “Snow Maiden” fairytale complex. “The Cat’s House” is a good choice for those travelling with children to Myshkin, and Levitan’s landscapes await guests at the reasonably
priced “Private Visit” in Plyos.

Where to eat
You explore the Golden Ring to discover Russian culture, so the food en route should also be Russian. In Suzdal, the food and interiors of the “Gostiny Dvor” are famous, Yaroslavl has the exquisite “Penates” in an old wooden mansion, and in Pereslavl-Zalessky don’t miss the “Montpensier” coffee house in the central square (especially the tea from the samovar and the spiced lamb). In Kostroma the “Old Marina” fl oating restaurant has interiors from the classic Soviet fi lm “Cruel Romance”. For lovers of Caucasian
food, the famous “White Sun” restaurant is located right on the bank of the Volga. In the Volga region it is worth trying smoked fi sh, and in Suzdal it is diffi cult to avoid the local mead.

What to buy
The Golden Ring offers a wide choice of souvenirs. More expensive options include folk crafts, from enamel from Rostov the Great to Palekh boxes; cheaper options are ceramics and products made of fl ax. From Myshkin you can bring home all kinds of souvenir mice, the production and sale of which,
it seems, engages about half the local population. (Myshka is the Russian word for mouse.)

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