Yaroslavl - A Tourist's Treasure Trove
The fascinating city of Yaroslavl is situated at the confluence of the Kotorosl and Volga rivers, 260 kilometers north-east of Moscow. Yaroslavl is the administrative hub of Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia and has a population of more than 630,000. The key industries are diesel engines, tire manufacturing and oil with one of the biggest oil companies, Slavneft, based in the city.
The historic section of Yaroslavl in Russia, while retaining some of the significant ancient structures, was completely renovated in the neo-classical style between 1763 and 1830. This was in compliance with the urban planning reform implemented by Empress Catherine the Great. The result is considered to be an exceptional example of the interchange of architectural and cultural influences between Russia and Western Europe. For this reason the historic section of Yaroslavl has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Yaroslavl is one of the ancient Russian cities included in the Golden Ring. The city is thought to have been established as a fortress in 1010 by Yaroslav Mudry (Wise), although the area had been occupied by Vikings prior to this, even as far back as the 8th century. This premise is supported by archaeological discoveries at Timerevo situated about seven kilometers south-west of Yaroslavl. By the beginning of the 13th century, Yaroslavl had been established as an essential trade center because of its favorable location beside the Volga River. During the Tartar invasion, which took place in the 13th and 14th centuries, Yaroslavl was destroyed. However, due to the rebuilding and restoration work undertaken in the 15th century, Yaroslavl regained its position as an important commercial centre. In 1463 Yaroslavl was incorporated into Muscovy and in the 17th century it held the position of being Russia’s second largest city.
In our modern times, Yaroslavl is proving to be a prime tourist destination. With its intriguing blend of ancient and modern architecture and cultures, there are many reasons to visit the city and its beautiful surroundings. The Spassky Monastery (Savior Monastery) which was founded in the 12th century is situated in the area where the Kotorosl River flows into the Volga River. The main entrance to the monastery is the Saint Gate, which was built in 1516 and renovated in 1621 with the addition of a small church. The monastery was previously surrounded by huge walls, of which parts are still standing. The Spaso-Preoprazhensky Cathedral (Savior Transfiguration cathedral) is the main church in the monastery as well as being the oldest building in Yaroslav with its 500 year history. The cathedral is an outstanding example of skillful ancient Russian architecture. The non-symmetrical domes, arches at different angles and paintings on walls, give the cathedral a completely different appearance when viewed from various sides, which is what the architects were setting out to achieve.
In the vicinity of the monastery there is a museum devoted to the history of the Yaroslav region, as well as an exhibition of ancient Russian crafts, paintings and old books, some of them written by hand. The ornately decorated Epiphany Church situated next to the monastery was built at the end of the 17th century. Also in that area, but closer to the Volga River is the Church of Elijah the Prophet. This stunning white building with five green domes, built in 1647-1650, is major attraction in the area. The frescoes in the church, which depict the life of saints, were painted by Gury Nikitin and Sila Slavin. These famous and well-respected artists decorated at least one church in every town of the Golden Ring during the 17th century.
With so many places of interest to explore and the stunning scenery of the area, it is no wonder that many visitors are drawn to Yaroslavl in Russia.