Suzdal, Russia

According to Psyknowhow, Suzdal is located 32 km north of Vladimir. The city is located on the banks of the Kamenka River.

The first mention of Suzdal is found in the New City Code under the year 999, and in the “Tale of Bygone Years” its name is first found in connection with the peasant uprising of 1024. At that time, Suzdal was a large city in the northeastern part of Russia – in the 11th century a fortress was built here, which was surrounded by bulk ramparts and artificial ditches, inside the fortress they erected the temple of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as the first monastery of Dmitry Solunsky. The city reached its peak during the reign of Yuri Dolgoruky, when it became the center of the Rostov-Suzdal Principality. At this time in Suzdal handicraft and merchant people begin to flock, and a settlement grows from its eastern part. Under the son of Yuri Dolgoruky – Andrei Bogolyubsky – the capital was moved to Vladimir, and the principality became known as Vladimir-Suzdal. At the beginning of the 13th century, the principality was divided and Suzdal became the capital of an independent Suzdal principality. Yuri Vsevolodovich became his first prince. The development of the city was suspended by the Tatar-Mongol invasion, in 1238 Suzdal was plundered and burned. At the beginning of the 14th century, a new political unit was formed – the Suzdal-Nizhny Novgorod principality, however, by the end of the century the city was part of the Moscow principality. Having lost its political significance, it becomes a cultural and religious center. Since the 16th century in Suzdal monasteries are being built, in a short time more than a dozen monasteries were erected. The city has its own icon painters, chasers and silversmiths. In 1776, after the formation of the Vladimir province, Suzdal became its county town. Until the end of the 19th century, until the Nikolaevskaya railway was built, the city was a major trading center through which goods went from Moscow to the north – to Arkhangelsk and St. Petersburg. By the beginning of the 20th century, Suzdal had become a small provincial town with several factories. Only in the second half of the 20th century, with the beginning of restoration work, about Suzdal they remembered it as a “city-museum”, which, in terms of the number of architectural and historical monuments, cannot be compared with any city of the Golden Ring. The main architectural ensemble of the city, the Suzdal Kremlin, is located in the historical part of Suzdal. Its construction began in the 12th century, only the remains of the ramparts have survived to this day, almost all of its buildings were rebuilt at different times. The central building of the Suzdal Kremlin is the Nativity Cathedral. It was founded in the 12th century on the site of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built by Vladimir Monomakh in the 11th century. The facades of the one-domed cathedral are decorated with figures of lions, female masks and intricate ornaments. Almost all the murals of the inner walls of the temple were lost, only small fragments of ornaments from the time of Vladimir Monomakh remained. Very beautiful are the Golden Gates of the Cathedral, which are a unique example of Suzdal arts and crafts, they are made in the technique of fire gilding. The sons of Yuri Dolgoruky, Ivan and Svyatoslav, as well as representatives of such well-known Russian boyar and princely families as the Shuisky, Shuisky-Skopin and Belsky are buried in the necropolis of the Nativity Cathedral.

Opposite the Cathedral of the Nativity stands the bell tower which was built in 1635. At the end of the 17th century, the bell tower was decorated with a clock that strikes every hour.

The ensemble of the Kremlin includes the most ancient living quarters of the city – Bishops’ Chambers. The episcopal chambers of the bishops’ corps date back to the 15th century, but their architecture is already close to European. The rich interior decoration of the chambers indicates the viability of the higher clergy of those times. The huge Cross Chamber with nine-meter ceilings, which was built for ceremonial receptions, impresses with its size.

Some churches have also been preserved in the Kremlin – Assumption, which was built in the 17th century in the style of the Naryshkin baroque, and a pair of Nikolskaya and Nativity churches of the 18th century.

Now the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve is located on the premises of the Kremlin. Its expositions, which present historical and artistic values from different eras, are concentrated not only in the Kremlin, but also in the Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery and the Museum of Wooden Architecture.

Monastery of Saint Euthymius – the most important abode of the city. It was built in 1352 as an outpost. The original buildings of the monastery have not survived, its current appearance was formed in the 17-18 centuries. The first thing you will see when visiting the monastery will be the Travel Tower. In total, there are 12 towers in the monastery complex, but the rest are noticeably different from the Proezdnaya. The monumental 22-meter rectangular tower was built according to all the rules of fortification. The main building of the monastery is the Transfiguration Cathedral of the 14th century, which was rebuilt several times. Inside, the cathedral is painted with frescoes by famous masters – Gury Nikitin and Sila Slavin; also, during the restoration work, parts of the frescoes of the 16th century were cleared. Next to the cathedral is the grave of the outstanding commander – Prince Dmitry Mikhailovich Pozharsky. On the square in front of the cathedral there is a belfry and the Assumption refectory church. The Dormition refectory church was built in the 16th century and is a rare example of hip architecture. The interior of the church and refectory houses fragments of wall paintings from the 16th century. In the 16-17 centuries, a belfry was built next to the Assumption refectory church, on which today there is a set of 17 bells, for which various chimes have been composed. Archimandrite’s chambers adjoin the belfry. Their initial purpose was to accommodate the state and order chambers, the treasury cell, the order of monastic affairs, the office chamber and the monastic archive, but in the 18th century the archimandrite of the monastery moved here. The chambers are interesting in the presence of a walking balcony at the level of the second floor. The complex of the Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery also includes the Nikolskaya Hospital Church, the Fraternal Corps and the Prison Corps, arranged under Catherine II for political criminals.

Opposite the Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery is the Pokrovsky Monastery. According to legend, the monastery was founded in 1364. The current appearance of the ensemble was formed in the 16th century, at the same time it became a place of imprisonment for aristocratic prisoners. The Intercession Cathedral of the monastery was erected in 1518. The walls of the three-domed temple are decorated sparingly – there are no stone carvings and paintings. The holy gates of the monastery are made in the form of a fortress tower with two arches; the Annunciation Church rises above them. According to the composition, the Church of the Annunciation repeats the large Pokrovsky Cathedral, but various decorations are used in its decor.

From the monasteries of the city, one can also distinguish the strict Rizopolozhensky Monastery, which was founded in 1207. At the beginning of the 13th century, the famous Suzdal healer, the Monk Euphrosyne, lived in the monastery, who, according to legend, with her prayers saved the monastery from destruction during the Tatar-Mongol invasion. Stone buildings appeared in the monastery in the 16th century. In its ensemble, the most interesting are the two-tented Holy Gates. The gates are decorated with colored tiles and decorative windows. The nearby 72-meter Reverend Bell Tower was erected at the beginning of the 19th century in honor of the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812, now it is the tallest building in Suzdal.

Be sure to go to the Alexander Convent, which appeared under Alexander Nevsky in 1240 and where the only belfry in the city that has no decor is located, and also visit the Vasilyevsky Monastery of the 18th century. The Suzdal Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life is very popular among tourists. It includes such wooden churches of the city as Nikolskaya, Preobrazhenskaya 67 m high (a vivid example of a multi-tiered church) and Voskresenskaya. All of them were built in the 18th century and brought at the beginning of the 20th century from various villages in the Vladimir region. The museum’s exposition also includes Suzdal log houses with skillful wood carvings, and a bathhouse from the second half of the 19th century with a well and mills. 4 km east of Suzdal┬áthe village of Kideksha is located, where the ancient white-stone church of Boris and Gleb stands. It was erected by order of Yuri Dolgoruky in the middle of the 12th century, as part of the palace ensemble. According to legend, the sons of Prince Vladimir the Red Sun, Boris Rostovsky and Gleb Murom, met at this place. Only the church has survived from the palace complex to this day. There are practically no decorations on the massive church built of solid white stone blocks. Here in the 12th century the son of Yuri Dolgoruky – Boris Yuryevich, his wife – Maria and daughter – Efrosinya were buried. The village of Kideksha itself is interesting with wooden houses standing everywhere.

Suzdal, Russia

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