What IS Golden Ring Russia?
Golden Ring is about sixteen ancient towns northeast of Moscow. Twenty years ago, 7-day tour route, covering all these cities, was created to introduce Russian culture to foreign tourists.
The area in which all towns are located is rather flat and most of these towns were built in the same way around the local fortress (Kremlin). Traditionally these towns had numerous churches and monasteries. Each town has its own reputation for local crafts, food or slight architectural differences.
Why do we offer only three cities of the Golden Ring Russia?
We’ve explored most of the Golden Ring towns ourselves trying to see through the eyes of the foreigner, read many reviews of those who’ve done a four, five or more days tour of the Golden Ring Russia and came to conclusion that the drive between these cities is too long for seeing a city not much different one from the other. Also, unless you’re traveling in a large budget coach with 40-50 other guests, the cost of this tour becomes quite high for a couple or a small group of friends (because now - the car, guide’s service and guide's hotel accommodation must be paid by you in addition to your own expenses).
What’s special about Sergiev Posad, Suzdal and Vladimir?
SERGIEV POSAD is the closest of Golden Ring towns to Moscow. The tour to Sergiev Posad can be easily done in one day without heavy costs. The founder of the main monastery (Sergey Radonezh 1314-1392) is well known and respected in our country for his loyal dedication to God. Many Russian pilgrims come to Sergiev Posad’s main monastery The Holy Trinity Lavra for spiritual inspiration and different Christian holidays. Other people visit Sergiev Posad in hopes to find peace with God, for religious ceremonies or pray for sick family members.
On the grounds of the monastery, you can find the spring which appeared in 1644 and its water healed many people. The first was a blind monk, whose eyesight returned due to this miracle-working water. The Holy Trinity Lavra itself is a very lovely, picturesque monastery. In 2014 all the buildings on the grounds including the fortification walls were renewed for 700-year anniversary of Sergey’s birth.
Sergiev Posad is also the hometown to mass production of Russian traditional souvenir - matrioshka (the wooden doll). The very first matrioshka had an important mission at the Art exhibition in Paris in 1900. It was suppose to represent our country, its people, traditions and culture. There it gained unexpected love and received a bronze medal. Since 1904 Russian dolls were put to mass production in the factory in Sergiev Posad. Today you can find an varieties of matrioshkas at the local market, but don’t expect the prices to be lower than in Moscow ;)
You can find Sergiev Posad Tour itinerary and rates here.
SUZDAL can be called the land of Russian fairytales. It's everyone’s absolute favorite from all the Golden Ring towns! Located approximately 230km (143mi) northeast of Moscow. It gained the status of museum town in Soviet era and now retains all of its original architecture and picturesque layout. A trip to Suzdal is a nice getaway to romantic Russian past.
Suzdal has the most peaceful atmosphere; most locals live in quaint and colourful little wooden houses decorated with beautifully hand-carved window frames; horse-buggies share the road with mostly Russian-made cars; local-made drinks and crafts are sold by babushkas (old ladies) at every corner; tasty foods at wooden cabin restaurants; fun local festivals and true Russian banyas (saunas).
From the three cities, this will be the one that gives you the most of Russian "flavor". Golden Ring Tour to Suzdal also offers the most diverse activities. By visiting Suzdal, you can see beautiful Russian landscapes, taste local food, buy hand made crafts, visit several ancient monasteries, try Russian bath-house and enjoy an amazing energy of the old Russian town.
For those who enjoy photography, Suzdal won’t leave you bored! Spectacular views of onion domed churches from numerous landscape elevations, the faces of the countryside people, brightly colored horse carriages, trodden roads and ancient churches are “holding the breath” to be captured. It’s easy to see why Russian film directors have used it as a location for historical scenes in many films.
You can find Suzdal Tour itinerary and rates here.
VLADIMIR is often included in the Golden Ring Tour because it’s just a 30-minute drive from Suzdal on the way to Moscow. The foundation of the city dates back to year 1108 and for a period of time (1157-1432) it was the capital of Old Russia. Had it not been for Mongols who devastated the city in 1238, Vladimir might be Russia’s capital and Moscow a simple provincial town. Eventually it turned into an industrial city. But today most of the factories are down and not much investment at the moment.
A few sites worth a visit are the Golden Gates – built as part of the fortification wall in 12th century, the only one survived the time. The Assumption Cathedral – for centuries used as an example to build many Orthodox churches around the country including inside Moscow Kremlin; and the Cathedral of St Dmitry whose exterior walls are covered with carved images interpreted as “glory of heaven and harmony of universe”.
You can find Two-Day Golden Ring Tour itinerary and rates here.
What is the best time of the year to plan the Golden Ring Travel?
We recommend to do any of the Golden Ring Tours in the summer or fall seasons (May – October). Temperatures are comfortable (15-25ºC / 60-80º F), long day light hours and many sunny days.
Golden Ring Tour for winter holiday (best in January) is also very delightful; but please keep in mind – due to weather conditions, travel time may greatly exceed our intended time.
We hope you found this article helpful in planning your trip, but if you still have some questions, please send us a message and we’ll do our best to answer!