Alexandrov

Alexandrov (Александров) is a city in the north-western part of Vladimir Oblast. The location is known as a medieval residence of Russian princes. It was home to several important events in Russian history. The residence is now transformed into a convent and preserves noteworthy architectural sights, while the city itself is quite unremarkable.

Understand

Geography

Alexandrov is located on the eastern edge of Klin-Dmitrov ridge, a series of hills lying north from Moscow. The city stands on the banks of the tiny river Seraya, the left tributary of the Sherna that further flows into the Klyazma. The area near Alexandrov is very typical for the central part of Russia: it is a nearly flat land with vast forests and small fields. Alexandrov is an important transport hub, the crossing of the principal MoscowYaroslavl railway and the circular railway line around Moscow (the so-called Big Ring of Moscow Railway). The M8 highway runs 25 km west from the city. A number of local roads pass through Alexandrov and offer connections to Kirzhach, Kol'chugino, Yuryev-Polsky, and to the cities of Moscow Oblast. The population of Alexandrov is 63 000.

History

Alexandrova Sloboda with the Cathedral of St. Trinity and the hip-roof bell-tower of the Crucifixion

The settlement of Alexandrov is known since 14th century. However, the official foundation date is 1513, when Vasili III, the Grand Prince of Moscow, built a residence, fortifications, and first stone churches on the banks of the river Seraya. At that time, the settlement was known as Alexandrova sloboda or Alexandrovskaya sloboda, which means that it was an independent community exempt from taxes and duties. In 1564, Ivan the Terrible, the son and the successor of Vasili III, made Alexandrov his permanent residence. He suffered from defeats in the war with Lithuania and felt constant fear of treason. Then, he decided to leave Moscow and to escape from the nobility in Alexandrov. Alexandrov shortly became the actual center of the country: for example, one of the first printing factories appeared here in 1568. However, some negative things appeared as well.

To protect himself, Ivan the Terrible organized a special army called oprichnina. This army had superior rights and did not hesitate to rob and murder others (first of all, nobility and merchants). This made Alexandrov a strange and sorrowful place where Ivan the Terrible combined orthodoxal religiousness with the savageness and depravity. The flourish of Alexandrov lasted for 17 years, until 1581. In the fall of 1581, Ivan the Terrible killed his son (this accident is shown in the well-known painting by Ilya Repin) and left Alexandrov forever.

The town rapidly decayed and also suffered from Polish army during the Time of Troubles (1598-1613). In 1654, the former residence was transformed into a convent and later used as a place of exile. Alexandrov is officially considered a town since 1778. It gained the regular rectangular layout and later (1870) hosted the MoscowYaroslavl railway. In 20th century, Alexandrov was strongly industrialized and lost nearly all of its original buildings. The industry of the city includes the production of electronics (such as TV sets of the well-known Rekord brand), crystals and diamonds, textile, and alcohol.

Orientation

As you arrive to the train/bus station of Alexandrov, you will find yourself on a large square, Komsomol'skaya ploschad (Комсомольская площадь). The street running perpendicular to the railway tracks is called ulitsa Lenina (улица Ленина). It will lead you through the central part of the city and finally bring you to another square, Sovetskaya ploschad (Советская площадь) with the easily recognizable Cathedral of the Nativity on it. Here the street changes its name to Sovetskaya ulitsa (Советская улица), runs downhill, crosses the river, and comes to the convent the old Alexandrova sloboda. Following the same street after the convent, you will start a way east to Kol'chugino and Yuryev-Polsky.

Another important street is Krasnyi pereulok (Красный переулок) that runs perpendicular to ulitsa Lenina. You will get to this street from the north while arriving by car from the M8 highway (from Moscow, Yaroslavl, and many other destinations). Following the same street in the southern direction will bring you to Kirzhach.

Get in

Alexandrov is on the boundary of Vladimir Oblast. It is conveniently reached from Moscow Oblast and from Yaroslavl Oblast, while the connections from Vladimir Oblast are less frequent. Alexandrov is usually visited together with Kirzhach and Yuryev-Polsky or on the way to Rostov Veliky and Yaroslavl.

By plane

The nearest international airport is in Moscow.

By train

There are two railway stations in Alexandrov.

Trains are preferable for travelling from Moscow, Yaroslavl, and Kirzhach:

Additionally, there are two local trains from Dmitrov. If you travel from Vladimir, take a local train to Orehovo-Zuevo and change there to another local train to Alexandrov. The whole trip will take at least 4 hours, so the direct bus connection is recommended instead.

By bus

The bus station is on the square near the main railway station. The building is open from 5:00 till 21:15. Information: +7 (49244) 24-055 (station assistant), 20-357 (local bus company).

Additionally, there are several daily buses from Kirzhach. The town of Kol'chugino is another convenient transit point with buses to Alexandrov departing every 2–3 hours.

By car

Alexandrov has road connections to the neighboring towns of Kirzhach (37 km) and Kol'chugino (40 km). From Kol'chugino, you can further reach Yuryev-Polsky (77 km) or Vladimir (120 km, via Stavrovo).

Moscow Oblast and Yaroslavl Oblast can be reached via the 25-km connecting road that joins the M8 highway in the village Dvoriki. The alternative way to Moscow Oblast is the road to Strunino and further to A108. The northern road to M8 (via Lukyantsevo) is not recommended due to the poor quality.

The parking space is available all round the city.

Get around

The central part of the city is rather small and easily explored by foot. The convent and the train station are found on the opposite sides of the city center (about 20 min walk). A number of city bus routes are available: in particular, buses # 4 and 7 run between the station and the convent.

See

Alexandrova sloboda

Alexandrova sloboda is the eldest part of the city and the former residence of Russian princes. Presently, it is the Assumption convent (Успенский монастырь) jointly operated by the Russian orthodoxal church and the museum. Sloboda is the must-see attraction in the whole city: come here to feel the quiet of ancient walls and churches and to learn something about Russian history. The present white-painted stone walls were built in 17th century and follow the general style of medieval Russian fortresses. Original ramparts from 16th century can be seen outside the walls. Inside the convent, you find several remarkable buildings:

Cathedral of St. Trinity

Museum (музей-заповедник), Музейный пер. 20,  +7 (49244) 28-073 (information), +7 (49244) 20-397 (excursions), +7 (49244) 21-774 (secretary), e-mail: . TSu, 09.0017.00 (on Friday, till 16.00). Entrance fee: 1530 rubles for each exhibition, about 150 rubles for the whole museum.

The museum includes seven basic exhibitions. Additionally, it offers a number of scenic "interactive excursions" that reconstruct the medieval atmosphere and show some old Russian traditions, however, in a very imitation way. Among the exhibitions, you find

The must-see exhibition is one in the church of the Intercession (Tsar court in Alexandrova sloboda). Here you find the ivory carved throne of Ivan the Terrible and other original items from 16th century. You will also enter the church and watch the unique wall paintings inside the hip. Downstairs in the same building, one finds the original basement of the prince palace. Other exhibitions are fairly regular.

Churches

Cathedral of the Nativity

Secular buildings

Pervushin's estate

In the city center, you will find further old buildings from 18th19th centuries (note the street names: Советская, Первомайская, Военная, Ленина, Революции, Красной Молодёжи). All of them are, however, unremarkable.

Museums

The museums of Alexandrov are not very exciting. Artificial stones are really unusual, while the two other museums try to compensate the lack of exhibits by the intensive (and even useless) guidance. The reconstruction of the 19th century life is rather common for Russian museums and can be found elsewhere. To learn more about Marina Tsvetaeva, visit the museums in Moscow, Ivanovo, and Tarusa.

Do

Buy

In the city center, you find two large food supermarkets:

Note also smaller shops at the following streets: Ленина, Советская, Революции.

Souvenirs are sold at Alexandrova sloboda: near the entrance and inside the convent.

Banks

Bank offices are equipped with ATMs. There are more ATMs throughout the city:

Eat

City center

Outskirts

While there are many places to eat, finding a really nice place can be difficult. Locals will often advise going to the neighboring town of Strunino (Coza Nostra), because most of the restaurants of Alexandrov suffer from typical Russian problems (unfrienfly waiters, loud music and drunk people during the evening hours). If you are not too hungry, try the Soviet union coffee house, which seems to follow reasonable standards of quality. For a fast food, cheburechnaya will perfectly suffice.

Drink

Try alcoholic drinks produced by the local factory . Vodka, fruit spirits (nastoyki), and cognac are sold in food stores throughout the city.

Night clubs

Sleep

Connect

Post office

The postal code of Alexandrov is 60165*. Offices in the city center:

Internet access

Internet connection should be available at the post offices.

Go next

Local destinations

Further destinations

Routes through Alexandrov

Moscow Sergiev Posad  W  E  Yaroslavl


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