Vologda was founded in 1147, concurrently with Moscow, first as a possession of the Novgorod Republic, then of the Grand Duke of Moscow. The city is located in the northern part of European Russia, between Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the White Sea. Because of its position and ease of communication via the Russian waterway system, Vologda grew as a prosperous trading hub. After the establishment of the Muscovy Company, which enjoyed a monopoly on trade between England and Russia through the northern sea port of Arkhangelsk, Vologda grew even further. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the city even became the capital of Russia between 1565 and 1571, and it was during this time that the majority of its most important sites were built, including its kremlin. However, after the foundation of St. Petersburg and the shift of Russian trade to the new capital, Vologda rapidly declined. Today it is a beautiful, calm provincial city, offering a bevy of interesting monuments for visitors. Additionally, Vologda has been considered the Russian lace capital since the beginning of the 19th century.

Panoramic tour of Vologda. This tour will uncover the beautiful architecture of this northern city, with its buildings made from wood, brick, and stone. Regardless, the main feature of Vologda’s architecture has always been its unique wooden constructions, as Vologda’s architects were known throughout all Russia. You will be surprised by the variety of wooden building styles, from classicist to modern.

Visit to the Vologda Kremlin. The Kremlin was built on a high bank of the Vologda River by Ivan the Terrible, who in 1565 made Vologda the capital of his new Oprichnina system and therefore the capital of Russia. The construction of the kremlin was completed by 1566. Unfortunately, its walls were dismantled during the 19th century, but most of its interior buildings remain untouched. We will be able to see the Gate-Church of the Exaltation, the Resurrection Cathedral, the House-Church of the Nativity, the Zolotoy (Golden) Residence, the Gavrilovsky Corpus, the Simonovsky Corpus – House of the Bishops, and the magnificent St. Sophia Cathedral with its belltower.

Visit to St. Sophia Cathedral. Situated inside the Vologda Kremlin, the cathedral was completed almost immediately after the fortress, in 1568, dominating the kremlin landscape. Ivan the Terrible abandoned Vologda as the capital of Russia and returned to Moscow in 1571 leaving the new cathedral unfinished and, even though the building was completed 18 years later, it still lacked decorations and ornaments, presenting a very somber picture. Most of its present decorations were added centuries later, most importantly a complete collection of frescoes (17th century) and an iconostasis (18th century).

Visit to the Spaso-Prilutsky Monastery. It was founded in 1371 on the banks of the Vologda River by Dmitri Prilutsky, abbot of the Nikolsky Monastery in Pereslavl-Zalessky. The monastery soon came under the protection of the princes of Moscow, who wanted to expand their influence into the north of Russia. Its Cathedral of the St. Saviour, built in 1537, is the oldest stone building in Vologda. After the Polish invasions at the beginning of the 17th century the monastery was heavily fortified, and during the Napoleonic invasion most of the treasures in Moscow were evacuated to this monastery. On its grounds we can admire several other buildings: Presentation Church (1623), the Church of All Saints (1721), the Church of St. Catherine (1830) and the wooden Assumption Church, one of the oldest wooden churches in Russia, transferred here from its former location in another monastery.

Visit to the Lace Museum. Vologda has been considered the Russian lace capital since the 19th century. In 1893 there were 4000 lace craftsmen in Vologda whose fame was widely known all over Russia and even abroad: lacers from Vologda were awarded the Golden Medal at a 1937 exhibition in Paris, a feat they repeated in Brussels in 1958. In 2012 the Museum of Lace was inaugurated in Vologda, located in an early 19th century building in the city center. The museum is dedicated to the development of traditional arts and crafts in the Vologda region as well as lacemaking trends in the 19-21th centuries. There are also rooms dedicated to the main European lace centers: Germany, France, Poland, Slovakia, and Spain, while another part of the exhibition discusses the general history of the 17-18th centuries, the era during which the art of lace was born. The museum not only contains exhibition halls, but also a lacemaking school and lace store.