Cover photo © credits to dmitry_feofanov
Cover photo © credits to dmitry_feofanov

Suzdal, a time machine to the past

3 minutes to read

At the beginning of the 12th century, Suzdal was a flourishing capital of Russian lands, while Moscow was a small village on the outskirts. In the 19th century, a rail track was laid far from the town, and it stopped developing. Located in the Vladimir Region, around 200 km from Moscow, Suzdal is a town-museum or town-reserve with the territory of 9 km2, and it arranges 200 heritage assets, including 53 churches and 5 monasteries. When you are in Suzdal, a time machine takes you to the past.

Photo © credits to Loris Silvio Zecchinato. St. Antipas church
Photo © credits to Loris Silvio Zecchinato. St. Antipas church

Fortresses, prisons, museums

The central part of the town is Suzdal Kremlin. Its ramparts afford a fine view of the town, and the blue domes are the landmarks of Suzdal. In the 16th century, 11 monasteries were built as fortresses around the town to defend it. Thick and high walls of the Monastery of Saint Euthymius made it a good place for the prisoners, so the Russian rulers sent here many freethinkers. White and beautiful Intercession Convent doesn’t look like a prison, but still, it was. The tsars and boyars sent here their wives, sometimes for political and sometimes for personal reasons. Nowadays, these monasteries became the museums, and they keep rich collections of ancient icons, golden holy vessels and the special covers for the Bible called 'oklad' which were made of prescious metals and studied with gems.

Photo © credits to podmoscva.livejournal.com
Photo © credits to podmoscva.livejournal.com

A white-stone architecture

A settlement outside the Kremlin was called “posad”. Its merchants' rows, small houses, churches standing in pairs (winter and summer ones), were typical for all province towns in the past. The limestone buildings of Suzdal belong to the north-eastern white-stone architectural tradition, and together with Suzdal Kremlin are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Photo © credits to Ludvig14
Photo © credits to Ludvig14

Fresh air and traditional Russian drinks

There are no industrial enterprises in the town, so the air in Suzdal is fresh, and snow is amazingly white. The only local plant produces the honey-based traditional Russian drinks, like sbiten’ and medovukha, which you can taste and buy here. Medovukha is a light and aromatic alcoholic beverage, made with hops or yeast, different berries and spices, like juniperus, ginger, cloves, etc. You can prepare sbiten’ yourself by boiling the honey with water and spices.

Photo © credits to 24medok.ru
Photo © credits to 24medok.ru

A spirit of festivity

Every year, Suzdal becomes a place for very popular public events: The Open Russian Festival of Animated Films, Cucumber Day, Maslenitsa and Trinity Sunday, as well as annual trail running GRUT. The town is filled with a spirit of festivity and crowds of guests. The tiny squares and streets of Suzdal hardly accept 10 000 visitors that come to join 10 000 locals.

Photo © credits to kompravda.eu. Trinity Sunday in Suzdal
Photo © credits to kompravda.eu. Trinity Sunday in Suzdal

A pearl of the Golden Ring

In 1965, a Moscow journalist Jury Bychkov, after visiting Suzdal, suggested a circle tourist trail connecting eight old cities and named it “the Golden Ring of Russia”. Suzdal, a small beautiful town, is fairly called “a pearl of the Golden Ring”.

Photo © credits to rosphoto/andrey_ivanov
Photo © credits to rosphoto/andrey_ivanov

Suzdal keeps not only the old architecture, but also the spirit of ancient Russia. Taking a horse-cab or wandering around the town, sitting on a bank of the Kamenka River or tasting traditional dishes and drinks, you can forget about the time. There is no rush, people don’t count seconds, and even the tower clock has only a hour-hand. However, the time still flows, and a time machine is ready to take you from the past back to the present.

Photo © credits to VD
Photo © credits to VD
Suzdal
Suzdal
Photo © credits to museum.vladimir.ru
Photo © credits to museum.vladimir.ru
Suzdal Kremlin
Suzdal Kremlin
Kremlin Str., 20, Suzdal, Vladimir Region, Russia, 601293
Suzdal Intercession Convent
Suzdal Intercession Convent
Pokrovskaya St., 76, Suzdal, Vladimir Region, Russia, 601293
The Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius
The Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius
st. Lenin, 148, Suzdal, Vladimir Region, Russia, 601293

The author

Victoria Derzhavina

Victoria Derzhavina

I live in Moscow. I am passionate about travelling, history, nature and architecture. I worked as a tourist guide in Moscow and other Russian cities for several years. I get inspiration visiting new places and like sharing it with others.

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