Delights of Old Russia
Our private tour, Delights of Old Russia, takes you along the Golden Ring – a series of old Russian towns around Moscow, known for their beautiful kremlins (fortresses) and ancient buildings. These towns played a very important role in the battles between “Rus” and the invading “Tatars” in the foundation of Russia (Rus). Here along the route the pace of life is changing but slowly.
Along the way, you will enjoy seeing villages with typical painted wooden houses. You are transported back in time while exploring: Vladimir, with its 12th century Golden Gates and Uspensky Cathedral; Bogoliubovo, a charming village set on the banks of the Nerl river; Suzdal, a World Heritage Site, founded in 1024, the gem of the Golden Ring, with its Kremlin, convents and Cathedral of the Nativity, with five stunning blue domes sprinkled with golden stars; Kostroma, a “young” town founded in 1152, with wooden architecture and St. Ipaty Monastery;Yaroslavl, on the banks of the Volga, founded by Yaroslavl the Wise in 1010; Uglich, set on a bend (or ‘ugol’)of the Volga, with Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood; Rostov Veliky, mentioned as far back as 862, with its superb kremlin, and Sergeev Posad, seat of Russian Orthodoxy with the amazing Troitsky Monastery and a multitude of elegant churches.
The Golden Ring can be enjoyed year-round. The New Year is celebrated with special events and troika rides. In February or March, depending on the Orthodox calendar, you can savor the “pancakes” prepared for Orthodox Lent or Maslenitsa, and in July, Suzdal holds its annual Cucumber Festival, a staple of Russian cuisine.
* 4 nights at hotels mentioned in standard & studio category rooms
* 4 Breakfasts
* 5 lunches at local restaurants
* 3 Dinners at hotels
* English-speaking guide from Moscow & along the Golden Ring
* Local English-speaking guides where required
* Entrance fees to all places mentioned
* Touring by comfortable Western car or Western Minivan
Prices Per Person 2015
Party of 2 by Western car: $3,520
Party of 3 by Western minivan: $3,085
Party of 4 by Western minivan: $2,760
Single Room Supplement: $825
Visas are additional and are not included in the above.
The current Consulate fees are $223 & $330 provided papers are received from participants at least 6 weeks prior to the USA departure date. From May-Sep the higher fee is recommended.
Day 1: Moscow * Bogoliubovo * Vladimir * Suzdal
After breakfast, you are greeted by your guide & depart by car or minivan from Moscow. Your drive takes you first to Bogoliubovo, a village set on the banks of the Nerl River, where you view the ruins of Andrei Bogoliubsky’s Palace. Andrei Bogoliubsky was the son of Prince Yuri Dolgoruky, who was the founder of Moscow. This village contains some of the most important monuments of the 12th century: the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin, the Church of the Protecting Veil, dating from 1165, and erected to mark the victorious campaign of the Vladimir and Suzdal troops against the Kama Tatars. You continue to Vladimir, founded in 1108 by Prince Vladimir Monomakh, hence the town’s name. Here you view its 12th century Golden Gate, visit its beautiful Cathedral of the Assumption, and some of its renowned monasteries, such as the Monastery of the Dormition. You enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before completing the tour of the architectural treasures of Vladimir. You continue to Suzdal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you check in for two nights at the Pushkarskaya Sloboda Hotel, where you are accommodated in studio rooms. This evening you enjoy dinner at the hotel. (L, D)
Day 2: Suzdal
Suzdal’s history dates back to the 11th century, when it played a prominent role in the establishment of the Russian North East. Today you tour its famous Kremlin within are found the 13th century Cathedral of the Nativity, with five stunning blue domes sprinkled with golden stars; the 16th century Archbishop’s Chambers, oldest civic building of the town; the early 17th century Bell Tower which still chimes, and the 17th century wooden Nikolskaya Church, brought to Suzdal in 1967 from a neighboring region. You enjoy viewing the interior of the Spasso-Efimevsky Cathedral, and nearby, the Spasso-Preobrazensky Cathedral, where Russia’s national hero, Dmitry Pozharsky, honored by the monument to him outside St. Basil’s Cathedral, is buried in the family vault. After lunch at a local restaurant, you tour the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life, laid out on the banks of the Kamenka river, with outstanding examples of 18th and 19th century structures, gathered from the region and assembled here. Dinner is at the hotel restaurant. (B, L, D)
Day 3: Suzdal * Kostroma * Yaroslavl
After breakfast, you depart for Kostroma, founded in 1152 by Yuri Dolgoruky, considered the father of Rus, the name given to ancient Russia. Kostroma suffered from invasions by the Tartar Mongols and was burned to the ground three times in the 15th century. In the 17th century, Kostroma became an affluent city of merchants and craftsmen. You visit the Ipatyevsky-Troitzy Monastery, where in 1613 Mikhail Romanov was hidden to escape capture by the Polish invaders. You continue on to Yaroslavl, founded by Yaroslavl the Wise in 1010, with its beautiful Spassky Monastery with its row of three cathedrals, set at equal distance from each other, and each slightly smaller than the other, giving Yaroslavl its unique silhouette. During your day of touring you will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. You check in for the night at the Ring Premier Hotel. This evening you can enjoy dinner on your own at the hotel’s restaurant. (B, L)
Day 4: Yaroslavl * Uglich * Rostov Veliky
After breakfast you drive to Uglich, which became part of the Moscow principality in the 14th century. Prince Andrei Bolshoi had stone buildings erected within its kremlin. You visit the interior of the Church of Dmitry on the Blood, so named for the death, at the end of the 16th century, of Ivan the Terrible’s son, Tsarevich Dmitry. The friends of Boris Godunov were suspected of this deed, and the event marked the beginning of an era of civil wars, invasions and finally the ransacking of Uglich in 1610. Pushkin’s play “Boris Godunov” recounts this period.
After lunch, you continue to beautiful Rostov Veliky, or “Rostov the Great”, set on the banks of Lake Nero, and first mentioned in chronicles dating from 862. You tour its 17th century Kremlin, within which are elegant churches and museums – the Museum of Old Russian Art, Museum of Enamel, for which the town is renowned, and the Old Porcelain Museum. You overnight at Moskovsky Trakt Hotel. Dinner is at the hotel restaurant. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Rostov Veliky * Sergeev Posad * Moscow
After breakfast, you continue on to Sergeev Posad, the historic seat of the Russian Orthodox Church. During Soviet times, it was renamed “Zagorsk”, but since 1991 its original name has been restored. The history of this town dates back to 1337 when a church and political worker, Sergius of Radonezh, became a monk and founded the Monastery of the Holy Trinity. This monastery was instrumental in liberating “Rus” (or Russia) from the invading Mongol-Tartar hordes, and also assisted Prince Dmitry Donskoy in his preparations for what was to be the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380, one of the great battles in this liberation. When Sergius of Radonezh was canonized, the monastery was given the honorific name “Lavra”, and at the end of the 18th century, all the surrounding villages and settlements were incorporated, declared to be one town, and given the name Sergeev Posad. You visit the outstanding Monastery of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius, and the magnificent Cathedrals of the Holy Trinity and the Dormition. Within St. Trinity Cathedral, you can admire the skill of the famous icon painters, Andrei Rublov and Daniil Chorny, who decorated its interior. You have lunch at a local restaurant and return to Moscow in the late afternoon. (B, L)