Stone North of Russia

See the historical monuments of old Russian cities, visit medieval Russian castles and monasteries.
Duration: 6 days.

Day One: Moscow Region.

New Jerusalem
New Jerusalem was founded by Russian Patriarch Nikon in 1656 as an illustration of idea than Moscow is the third Rome. It was planned as a copy of real Jerusalem. In order to make Russian Jerusalem closer to original Jerusalem all surroundings were renamed. Now Bethelem, Galilee and Jordan are situated in several kilometers far from Moscow. Architecture of a New Jerusalem also looks like a smaller copy of that one which is Israel.

Volokolamsk is one of the eldest towns of Moscow region. It was situated in 1135 so it is even elder than Moscow. It was almost totally destroyed in 1238 by Baty-khan and in 1370 by Lithuanian troops. But it is also the place where Russian troops defeated tatars what has become the turning point of renascence of Russian independence.
Today Volokolamsk is famous for its Kremlin which is seen from any part of the town. It has a unique composition inside including Voskresensky cathedral which was founded in XIV century.

Yaropoletsk is a small village not far from Volokolamsk. It is famous for its abandoned estates with park and lake. Also it is famous for its very unordinary church but nowadays it is being restored but still this village has lots of points of interest. There are a small crypt, two estates and even the first rural hydroelectric station!

Day 2: 

Staritsa — is a small forgotten in endless forests town with a couple of old churches. It was one of the favorite places of the Russian Tzar Ivan IV the Terrible. As this town is far from highways it is very calm and measured but at the same time there are lots of very picturesque places in this town. Also it is interesting as it stays on the bank of one of the largest rivers in the world — on the bank of Volga river, but it is not far from the source of Volga so here this great river looks small and cozy.

Sebezh is a small town which was situated in 1414. Large part of this town is situated on the island. This town is situated close to Latvia and is interested by its unordinary architecture as it absorbs prints of Russian and of European cultures.

Pushkinskie Gory
Pushkinskie Gory — is one of the most picturesque places of European part of Russia. It is interested both by its nature and by its architecture. It is a place where the famous Russian writer A.S. Pushkin lived with his family and lots scenes of his works took place here. But Pushkinskie Gory are famous not only because of picteresque place and A.S. Pushkin. There are also much older places of interest. For example, Svyatogorsky monastery which was built as a defensive outpost in 1569.

Ostrov was built in 1341 in order to defend Pskov. Ostrov means «island» and really the first castle was built on the island. This part of Russia is almost flat so Russians used rivers and lakes in order to defend their settlements.
During the World War II the whole town including castle were almost totally destroyed but it still keeps some prints of its long history which are very interesting to get acquainted with. For example,  it is famous for chain bridges which are in use since XVIth century. There are no examples of such bridge constructions in Russia.

Day Three:

Pskov — is one of the first Russian cities. It was independent for lots of centuries and the most part of its history it was engaged in wars with Germany, Lithuania and Sweden. Unlike it was fighting for its independence for almost all its history it preserved lots of points of interests. There is a castle, lots of old churches and cathedrals and unique architecture of the city which was independent for lots of years.

Nowadays Izborsk is a small village but it is famous for its castle which saved Pskov from being ruined for several times. It is also one of the eldest settlements in Russia and one of the first Russian  rulers — Truvor — situated this town. Today we can see not far from the castle a large cross which tells visitors about the first ruler of Izborsk. Also there are a lot of other interesting and picturesque places — for example springs which fell down from the hill.

Pechory is a small town with rich history. It is famous for its churches and cathedrals, cave monasteries and walls which saved Pskov for lots times. The monastery was built here when government decided that Izborsk is already too old and Pskov Region needs a new outpost. So, monastery of Pechory is at the same time a perfect example of fortifications of XV th century.  Also this town is interesting because of it brightness — it is really very bright as each church and cathedral are painted in different colors.

Day 4:

Porkhov was built in 1239. This town is closer to Velikyy Novgorod than to Pskov so it was situated in order to resist Novgorod. The main attraction of this town is a castle. It was built in XIV th century and was attacked several times even with the use of artillery but the castle manages to withstand and nowadays it serves as a museum. Also there is a very old church — built in 1412 — inside the castle.

Velikyy Novgorod
Velikyy Novgorod is one of the eldest cities in Russia. It is a birthplace of the first Russian democracy which was called Narodnoe Veche. This town for long centuries was even more influential than Moscow or Kiev. Velikyy Novgorod has never been destroyed or robbed by tatars. So it preserved its architecture, its traditions and its long history. As it stayed independent for the most part of its history even today lots of its inhabitants separate themselves from Moscow and strongly believe that their culture and heritage are much more rich than Moscow’s and it is quite difficult not to agree with them

Day 5:

Valdai is a small touristic town. It is famous for its monastery and for its bells. Most of the bells at each of Russian monasteries or churches were built there and nowadays it’s a kind of a folk craft — you can find various kinds of bells everywhere. This town is situated on the banks of the lake which is also called Valdai. And this lake is one of the most pure in Russia — it is not allowed even to use motor boats in order to save this lake’s primeval purity.

Torzhok is an old town. It was a trading post so once it was really large and prosperous town. But a lot of years passed since that time and now this town is partially abandoned. But lots of churches remind Torzhok’s lost power.

Here we are. And here our trip finishes!

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