Suzdal

Suzdal Kremlin
Kamenka river in Suzdal

Suzdal (Russian: Су́здаль) — the main historic town of Central Russia, about 25 km north of Vladimir, Vladimir Oblast. It was once the capital of several Russian principalities. Later during Soviet times it earned a federally protected status, which officially limited the development in the area. Thus the place remains largely the same as ages ago. It was able to preserve a great number of stunning examples of the Russian architecture of the XIII-XIX century: the Kremlin, several monasteries, countless white-stone temples, complemented by a Museum of wooden architecture.

Although having just under ten thousand residents, Suzdal still retains a rural look with streams and meadows everywhere and chicken and livestock a common sight on the streets, some of which remain unpaved. This juxtaposition of stunning medieval architecture with its pastoral setting lends Suzdal a picturesque charm.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and probably one the most interesting of the Golden Ring cities.

Understand

History

The town was founded in the 10th century and was subordinate to Rostov Veliky. Later in 1125 Grand Prince Yury Dolgoruky made Suzdal the capital of the Rostov-Suzdal principality. His son Andrey Bogolyubsky subsequently built new capital Vladimir, and principality began to be known as Vladimir-Suzdal. Suzdal's political influence started to fade away. Although it was for a short time the centre of Suzdal-Nizhny Novgorod Principality in the fourteenth century. It finally was annexed by Moscow in 1392.

Stone construction in Suzdal was started at the beginning of the thirteenth century before the Mongol invasion. A single Church was built — the Nativity Cathedral of Suzdal Kremlin. Once the Tatar-Mongol invasion ended and the political situation stabilized, stone construction started again in sixteenth century. It was just slightly inferior to the construction held in Moscow, it continued to prosper until the end of the eighteenth century. At this time Suzdal was an important trading city, located in the heart of a rich agricultural region. Since the nineteenth century Suzdal stopped developing due to the Trans-Siberian Railway bypassed it and due to the absence of factories in town. Which made possible for town's appearance to remain unchanged.

During the time of the Soviet Union, nearly all of Suzdal's economy was planned around its tourist potential. As a result, very few modern buildings were constructed in Suzdal (by law there are no structures more than 2 stories high except cathedrals). Also, a number of wooden structures from other parts of Russia were transported here, and the whole city was converted into an 'open-air museum'.

Tourist high season is summer and mid-winter, with numbers of visitors peaking at weekends and holidays. During off season the city is quiet even on weekends without losing much of its charm.

Get in

There are no trains to Suzdal, so aside from organized bus tours, the only way to reach the city is by bus or car.

By train

The closest train station is in Vladimir. All trains running from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod stops there. Travel time by high-speed train from Moscow to Vladimir — 1 h 40 min, by slow — 3-3.5 h.

Vladimir's bus station is 50 meters away from the train station (across the parking lot).

By bus

Buses from Vladimir depart every 20-30 min, 6:30 — 21:40. Besides, there are buses from Ivanovo, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Moscow (once daily from Moscow's Shelkovskaya bus station and couple more from Moscow's Kursky Train Station, travel time 4 h).

Infrequent (2-3 times a day) suburban buses go from Suzdal to Kovrov and Gavrilov Posad. No direct connections to Yuryev-Polsky.

  Suzdal Bus station, 44 Vasilyevskaya str.,  +7 49231 20147, fax: +7 49231 21845. 04:30-20:00. It's located 1 km east of the center, which is a 20 minute walk along Vasilievsky street or a short taxi ride. But, if you are coming by bus from Vladimir, do not get off there. You can stay seated and pay an extra 14 RUB to go to the center with the same bus. Bus station itself is rather primitive, with minimal snack and toilet facilities available.

By car

Along A-113 road from Vladimir (40 km) or Ivanovo (80 km). If coming from Moscow (220 km), follow Vladimir's Northern old bypass, then turn left.

Get around

Local buses operates on a four routes. However, most likely, you won't gonna need them as the town is quite small.

Taxis can be found in abundance in front of shopping arcade. They can be useful for a trip to Kideksha.


See

St.Euthymius Monastery, Transfiguration Cathedral and Belfry
Antipius and Lazarus Churches

Suzdal is a small town with a population of ten thousand people, predominantly wooden buildings and a huge number of stone churches and monasteries. No matter how hard you push to see everything in one single day, it will be extremely difficult. The following sights are the must on any trip to Suzdal:

However, there is another way to see Suzdal: just walk around slowly, try to get away from the crowds, get to the churches on the outskirts. This walk can turn into a totally unforgettable experience.

Suzdal Kremlin

The oldest preserved part of the city is Suzdal Kremlin. It is protected on three its sides by river Kamenka, and on the last one - by erected in eleventh century earthen rampart, which still can clearly be seen near Assumption, summer St. Nicholas and winter Nativity churches.

St. Nicholas Church from the ramparts to the Suzdal Kremlin in the background

Monastery of St. Euthymius

Trading quarter

Do

July 16 - Cucumber Day. A funny holiday, based on the fact that Suzdal's cucumbers have a reputation as the best cucumbers in central Russia. This holiday is celebrated with a folk music festival.

Buy

Market

Eat

You will not find any McDonalds restaurants or any trace of Western chain shops or hotels here.

Drink

The beverage of choice in Russia is vodka, by far. Suzdal, however, is famous for another drink, medovukha, a Russian type of cider made from honey. Tourists should be wary of purchasing this drink on the streets, though, for counterfeits are common. Ask your guide where you can buy real medovukha.

Sleep

Suzdal has a wide variety of offerings. There are many small hotels with 5-20 rooms. Advance booking is crucial for those who intend to visit during the New Year holiday season, Independence Day, and during the summer high season.

Budget

Mid range

Splurge

Go next


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.