Church of Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl © TravelFotki.ru

Visit the biggest city along the Golden Ring, embraced by two rivers, the mighty Volga and the smaller Kotorosl. The old town of Yaroslavl with its great variety of samples of old and unique Russian architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a historically important location.

  • Region in Russia: Central Russia, Moscow Region, Golden Ring
  • Topic: Sightseeing, Multiday trips
  • Best Season: Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring
  • Family & Kids: Yes

Yaroslavl – the biggest of the Golden Ring towns

If you want to feel the atmosphere of old Russia with its traditions and customs, unique architecture, old fortresses and white churches, if you are eager to see all the monasteries and church that hold within themselves a history of the whole country, if you can’t wait to hear the bells ringing their old sincere and beautiful melody, then the towns of the Golden Ring are waiting for you.

Embraced by two rivers, the wide and deep Volga and the smaller Kotorosl, Yaroslavl was founded in 11th century, and is now the largest city along the Golden Ring. Tourist attractions in Yaroslavl, you ask? What to see in Yaroslavl, the largest city along the Golden Ring? The main sight of old Russian architecture is the Monastery of Transfiguration of the Saviour, one of the richest monasteries of Russia by 1500’s. The Church of Elijah the Prophet is another tourist highlight of Yaroslavl. But an absolute gem of the old Russian architecture in Yaroslavl is St. John the Baptist church which features 15 onion domes.

Where to travel from Moscow? A simple question – of course, a multiday tour through the Golden Ring will be a perfect choice. And the city of Yaroslavl with its great variety of samples of old and unique Russian architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Sites will most certainly be on the list.

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The History of Yaroslavl

Yaroslavl © DreemPics.com

The largest city of the Golden Ring, Yaroslavl, which population now numbers more 600 000 inhabitants, is located 260 km north from Moscow at the junction of Volga and smaller Kotorosl. Settlements of Finn-Ugor tribes had lived there back in the ancient time, before the Slavs came to this territory. In the 9th century a large Scandinavian-Slavic settlement was located near modern Yaroslavl where a large collection of artifacts were found including the largest collection of Arabian coins in northern Europe. Many findings indicate that this settlement was a major center for the Volga trade route. In the early 11th century Yaroslav the Wise founded a fortress here which he called “Yaroslavl” meaning “the town of Yaroslav”. Thanks to the convenient and favorable location at the junction of the two rivers (one of them being the largest and the longest river in Europe), the town of Yaroslavl quickly became an important commercial center. During the Tatar invasion (13th-14th century) the town was burned, but it was newly rebuilt in 15th century when it again became an important trade center. In 17th century it was the second largest town after Moscow. 18th century saw Yaroslavl as a major industrial town with the largest textile factory in the country, and in the 19th century Yaroslavl became a provincial industrial town. During the World War II, Yaroslavl, as a large transport hub, was a major target for air raids during which the city was heavily destroyed.

Sightseeing highlights of Yaroslavl

Where to travel from Moscow? A multiday tour through the Golden Ring sounds like a perfect idea, and the largest city of the Golden Ring, Yaroslavl of course has a lot to offer to its visitors. Sightseeing in Yaroslavl is perfect both in summer and winter season, and in any season Yaroslavl tourist attraction will delight city’s visitors. Let’s have a look at the Yaroslavl sightseeing highlights, and answer the question “What to see in Yaroslavl?”

Spassky monastery (Saviour Monastery) in Yaroslavl

The main tourist attraction of Yaroslavl is the Saviour monastery or the Spassky monastery which was founded in the 12th century on the junction of Kotorosl and Volga rivers. The main cathedral of the monastery – Saviour Transfiguration Cathedral – is the oldest of remaining buildings in Yaroslavl. 500 years old cathedral is a fine example of old and unique Russian architecture: the cathedral is different depending from which side you look. This effect is made by non-symmetrically created domes, and various different on every side arches and paintings. From the top of the bell tower, which is open to visitors, a picturesque view on the city of Yaroslavl will open before your eyes. Back in 16th century, the monastery was surrounded by powerful wall because in that time monasteries in Russia serves as fortresses where citizens could hide in case of invasion or attack. Parts of that wall which is 400 years old can be seen today.

Church of Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl

What to see in Yaroslavl next? If you go from the monastery in the direction of Volga river, in about 7-10 minutes you will reach second main tourist attraction of Yaroslavl – the Church of Elijah the Prophet (or the Church of Ilya Prorok). Built in 1647-1650, this elegant white church with green domes is a true Yaroslavl landmark and a great example of old Russian architecture. The Church of Elijah the Prophet features a marvelous frescoes well-preserved in its original form. The frescoes were created in 17th century by famous masters from Kostroma and depict life of saints.

St. John the Baptist Church in Yaroslavl

Next landmark of Yaroslavl is St. John the Baptist Church, one of the greatest examples of the Yaroslavl school of architecture – famous for brick churches. Built in 1687 in Tolchkovo, the richest part of the town in 17th century, St. John the Baptist Church in Yaroslavl features 15 onion domes assembled in 3 groups. The interior of this interesting church is covered in beautiful frescoes. Make sure to visit this unusual tourist attraction in Yaroslavl.

The Volga river embankment and the Strelka Park in Yaroslavl

What to see in Yaroslavl next? Another Yaroslavl sightseeing highlight is the long and romantic Volga river embankment. On one site – the majestic blue Volga with white sailing ships, on the other side – a long row of old mansions and houses every one of which is more than 100 years old and is an architectural landmark. When walking by the Volga river embankment towards the Kotorosl river (thus, the Volga is on your left when walking), we reach another Yaroslavl landmark – Yaroslavl Strelka Park (Yaroslavl Arrow Park) – a place where the Kotorosl river enters the Volga. It was here the town founder – Yaroslav the Wise – founded a fortress and, eventually, the town. At the farthest end of the park, another sightseeing highlight is the located – the arrow monument dedicated to the celebration of the 1000 years foundation of the city. Today, the modern park with fountains, lights and flowers attracts many citizens – here, you can rest, relax and enjoy the panoramic view of the two rivers. In the Northern part of the Strelka, town visitors will see again a sightseeing highlight of Yaroslavl – the gold-domed Cathedral of the Assumption, the copy of the one that was built in 13th century and destroyed in 1937 during the Soviet times.

Saviour Transfiguration Cathedral in Saviour Monastery in Yaroslavl © yaroslavlru.ru

Church of Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl © TravelFotki.ru

St. John the Baptist Church in Yaroslavl © za7verst.ru

Yaroslavl – Location Map & Contact Information

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 Location Address:

Yaroslavl, Yaroslavl Region, Russia

How to get there – ARRIVAL INFORMATION

Yaroslavl is located 270km North-East from Moscow.

By car from Moscow: take M8 highway

By train from Moscow:  Yaroslavsky railway station is located on Komsomolskaya metro station (red line). Trains leave daily and the trip takes about 3h30min. Consider buying the ticket in advance.

Other attractions and sightseeing nearby

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