Renowned for its stunning scenery, ancient towns and traditional architecture, The Golden Ring is provincial Russia at its very best. Many of the cities along the route have been the scene of important historical events, from executions of royalty to the birthplace of dynasties, and a journey through the Golden Ring offers travellers a chance to immerse themselves in the old-age allure of Russia.
The jewel of the Golden Ring and a favourite amongst travellers, the picturesque town of Suzdal is where you’ll find fine examples of traditional Russian architecture, especially so in its Kremlin and cathedral. Dating back to 1024 with stunning medieval architecture and an astounding number of churches and monasteries, Suzdal is a major religious centre for Russia. In addition to this the town is surrounded by pretty meadows and grassy dunes giving a rural feel despite being home to impressive buildings and a having a reasonably large population.
Located on a steep hill above the Klyazma River, the bustling town of Vladimir is one of the oldest in Russia. Once the capital of ancient Russia, today it draws travellers with its ancient treasures and wonderful traditional architecture, with highlights including the majestic Assumption Cathedral, the Cathedral of Demetrius and the Golden Gate. The grandeur of medieval Vladimir shines through with the impressive defensive fort built in 1108 and a collection of entertaining museums.
Sat on the banks of the Volga River, it was in Uglich in 1591 that Dmitry, the son of Ivan the Terrible, was murdered. Visitors can discover the details of this sordid tale in the Prince’s Chambers within the waterside Kremlin, which houses a fascinating historical exhibit. The star-spangled Church of St Dmitry on the Blood, built in the 1690s on the spot where his body was found, is one of Uglich’s key attractions with bright interior frescoes and a 300 kilo bell with an equally tumultuous history.
The skyline of Yaroslavl is crowded with onion-shaped domes and imposing spires with churches hidden around every corner, including the richly decorated Church of the Epiphany and the Church of Elijah the Prophet possessing some of the brightest frescoes in the Golden Ring. The historical UNESCO-listed city centre sits at the confluence of two rivers and is home to many examples of classic architecture.
Other highlights of the Golden Circle include Kostroma, home to a 14th century monastery; and the picturesque town of Rostov-Veliky. Idyllically situated on pretty Lake Nero, Rostov possesses a magnificent Kremlin with silver domes and stone walls.
For more information on visiting the Golden Ring, check out our handy guide with details on when best to go and how to get around.