When the summer comes, most of Moscow residents try to spend a weekend outside of the city. Zvenigorod, an old Russian town located 50 km from the capital, attracts many travelers with its picturesque nature, historical spots, and famous Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery. You can reach it by a suburb train, a bus or a car. If you want to see something more than the hustle of the big cities and enjoy the countryside, spend one summer day in Zvenigorod near Moscow.
Founded in the 12th century, Zvenigorod flourished in the 14th century, when the local ruler Prince Yuri built a palace, a fortress and a church atop a steep hill. Nowadays, this is the main historical site in Zvenigorod, called Gorodok (Town). There are the stone steps leading uphills, and you can walk along the ancient ramparts with trees that used to protect the town in the past.
The Cathedral of the Dormition in Gorodok is not the oldest church that was built in Moscow Princedom, but the oldest one that survived. The main decorations of the simple white building are three belts with skillful white stone carvings. The church is famous for its interior. Many art experts suppose that frescoes in the church are the work of the most famous Russian icon painter Andrei Rublev or his artistic circle. The frescoes are not clearly visible; still, we can distinguish light colors and graceful figures created by talented artists more than 600 years ago.
The Cathedral of the Dormition was a home for the world-renowned image of Christ. Nowadays, this icon, together with two other ones, are on display at Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery and called “Zvenigorod Deesis Tier”. However, in the church, you can enjoy a splendid iconostasis of the 17th century.
In Moscow, we see the Moscow River prisoned in granite banks; however, in Zvenigorod, we can enjoy its natural beauty. To reach the Moscow River from Gorodok, you have to cross the road. From the bus stop, which is on the right, a path leads to a small beach to chill and sunbathe. If you go to the left, you will find café “Pristan”. There are many cafes in the center of the city, however, the café “Pristan” is located right on the river bank. If the weather is beautiful, you can have a meal in the open air and add a picturesque views to your lunch experience.
There is a small boating station, and in the café, you can rent a rowboat. The current is rather strong, that’s why it’s better to boat up the river first so that you can come back without much physical effort, mainly carried by the current. The coolness of the water and all different shades of green would make your trip even more pleasant. On the way, you will notice the small, floating grass islands, picturesque logs, and even tiny caves.
Many of you have heard of Anton Chekhov, the famous Russian playwright and short-story writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The curious fact, that not many people know, is that he was also a physician. After graduating from the medical faculty of Moscow University, he came to Zvenigorod and worked in a local hospital. Some of his colleagues and patients became the characters of his short stories. In the city, you can seat on a bench and take a photo with the statue of this great writer.
Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other. Anton Chekhov
Another peculiar sight of Zvenigorod is the Museum of Russian Desserts. I didn’t find a rich variety of the traditional Russian desserts in this museum, but people come here to enjoy funny interiors and cook round cracknels, pies or kasha in the conventional Russian furnace. In the Museum of Russian Desserts, you can find old buffets, kitchen cooking tools of the past centuries, and many cooking receipts in Russian.
Even a small Russian town has many exciting things to offer to the visitors. One summer day in Zvenigorod near Moscow can fill you with impressions for the rest of the week, if not longer!
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