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1. Yaroslavl
1. Yaroslavl Surrounded by two rivers, the small Kotorosl and its larger compatriot Volga, Yaroslavl is packed with more onion-shaped domes than any other place in Russia. The grand Volga is the longest river in Europe and walking along its banks will give you as much of a cultural appreciation equivalent to a hike. Yaroslavl is also home to St. John the Baptist Church, a record-breaking 15 dome structure which goes back to the times of Kievan Rus.
2. Suzdal
2. Suzdal Situated a mere 16 miles from Vladimir you will find the beautiful town of Suzdal. If you had to pick the jewel of the Golden Ring, it would probably be this town which has so many historical sites that you could almost call the entire place a gigantic museum. A total of eleven monasteries have been erected in the town and the row of merchants which lead to the Suzdal Kremlin have been around for centuries. Due to the local merchant’s failure to convince the government to add Suzdal to the Trans-Siberian Railway line, Suzdal has retained its original essence. Everything from cute wooden cottages to soft hills and flower dense meadows come together to make Suzdal the most enchanting town in the Golden Ring.
3. Sergiev Posad
3. Sergiev Posad Sergiev Posad represents the heart of Russian Orthodoxy and at the pinnacle of it lies the stunning monastery of Trinity Lavra of St Sergius. This ancient structure is made of creamy white walls that look like snow topped with sky blue and golden cupolas, making it one of the most beautiful buildings in the Golden Ring. It was founded in the 14th century and today it continues to operate.
4. Vladimir
4. Vladimir Vladimir is one of Russia’s oldest cities and it’s a must-see for anyone who wants to witness ancient architecture made of white stone and monumental cathedrals are abound. After getting lost in the plethora of cathedrals and churches, take your time to visit the Museum of Crystal and Lacquer Miniatures located in the Old Believers Trinity Church for a look at local embroidery. If you have time on your hands, then a side trip to the nearby ancient village of Bogoluybovo is just 20 minutes away from Vladimir.
5. Rostov Veliky
5. Rostov Veliky Rostov Veliky is marked by the perfectly proportioned towers of the local Kremlin which sits above the gorgeous Lake Nero. With its origins dating back as far as AD 862, Rostov Veliky is one of the oldest towns in Russia. Today it is a quaint village which makes for the perfect escape if you are looking for a peaceful environment. Aside from the beautiful Kremlin, there is a breath of great attractions including four monasteries, churches and the tranquil Lake Nero.
6. Kostroma
6. Kostroma Kostroma is situated the furthest from Moscow but certainly worth visiting if you are on the Golden Ring trail. It is believed to be found by Yuri Dolgorukiy in the 12th century and the city is famous for the Monastery of St. Ipaty which sits at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers. There is also a host of interesting museums and a moose farm worth checking out.
7. Pereslavl-Zalessky
7. Pereslavl-Zalessky This old lakeside town is a popular escape for people living in Moscow due to its proximity to the city. There are a lot of attractions scattered everywhere including a 12th-century cathedral, six monasteries, and earthen mounds. It’s worth walking along the banks of the Trubezh river which takes you on a 2 km pathway starting from the Kremlin and finishing at the lake. At the south of the river sits the picturesque Forty Martyrs Church.
8. Plyos
8. Plyos This peaceful town is situated between Ivanovo and Kostroma. It is characterized by a wide array of wooden houses and hilly streets which come together to create a romantic atmosphere that’s perfect to explore for a day. The most ancient part of this little town is along the river, where you will encounter an old fort from 1410 and at the top of the hill sits the 1699 Assumption Cathedral which is supposedly one of Levitan’s favorite painting subjects.
 

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Golden Ring Cities

Golden Ring Cities

If you want to see the very best of Russia but don’t know where to begin then you should definitely start with the Golden Ring. This is classic Russia at it’s very best; a group of cities (yes, they do actually form a ring) showcasing gorgeous onion-shaped domes, colorful kremlins and gingerbread cottages. The best part is that they are all located close to Moscow and pretty easy to get to.

Featuring Russia’s oldest towns, the Golden Ring formed the core of eastern Kievan Rus. The beauty remains intact as they managed to somehow avoid industrialization during the Soviet period and today the various towns attract trigger-happy tourists with their cameras strapped looking for a scenic escape from Moscow.

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