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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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