Vladimir

The cradle of Russia and, along with neighboring Suzdal, origin of its history, Vladimir boasts a rich architectural heritage. It has been inhabited since at least the Palaeolithic Age: the settlement of Sungir is 25000 years old. The present city of Vladimir was founded in 1108 by  Prince Vladimir Monomachos of Kiev, but modern research dates its foundation back to 990, by Vladimir the Great, father of Russian Orthodoxy. Its significance peaked under Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky, who made Vladimir the capital of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality and therefore the most important city in Russia from 1157 until the Mongol invasion in 1238. From that point it began to slowly fade, relinquishing power to Moscow. Still, it remained the see of the Russian Orthodox Church until 1325, and until 1432 the grand princes of Russia were crowned in Vladimir. The city’s decline, on the other hand, has contributed to the preservation of its medieval monuments and, in part due to that fact, Vladimir, one of the cities of the Golden Ring, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Panoramic tour of Vladimir. Most of the main monuments in Vladimir were built by both Russian and foreign architects and masters during the city’s glory days. We will tour the center to discover its most interesting sites, including the Golden Gate. It was erected in 1158 as the main entrance to the city, forming part of its 12th century walls. The Gate was covered in gold plates, complete with a small church dedicated to the Deposition of the Holy Robe on its top.

Visit to the Cathedral of the Assumption (Dormition Cathedral), built by Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky, who is buried here, in Vladimir’s former kremlin. It was intended to be the center of the Russian Church, and its paintings are among the finest in all of Russian art. After the original frescoes on its walls were destroyed by the Mongols in 1238, new ones were painted by the grand master Andrei Rublev in 1408, with a baroque iconostasis added in 1774. It is considered to be one of the most important monuments in Russia and inspired numerous churches and cathedrals throughout the whole country, primarily its namesake located in the Moscow Kremlin.

Visit to the Cathedral of Saint Demetrius. Built in 1194 as a royal church for Prince Vsevolod III, its biggest draws are the stone carvings on its façade dedicated to King David, Alexander the Great, and Samson; and the 12th century frescoes lining its interior and depicting scenes from the Last Judgment.