May 2013 – Yaroslavl, Russia

Yaroslavl’s Strelka Park, at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl Rivers

Yaroslavl was the first stop of our trip on ”The Golden Ring”, a circle of historic cities northeast of Moscow. We found Yaroslavl to be a very nice, relaxed city – perhaps our favorite city on the Volga River, which is really beautiful here.

The city is set at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl Rivers, and the old site of the town kremlin is perched in above this confluence and is now dotted with domed churches and historic buildings. There were almost too many churches to count while walking along the Volga’s west bank, most dating back to the the 14th century or thereabouts.  Admittedly we were a bit ‘Cathedralled out’ by this point in our trip, but the green areas and beautiful rivers really made this place a pleasant place to be after over two weeks in the more hectic Moscow and St Petersburg.

Yaroslavl has recently rebuilt its Strelka Park, a well-maintained garden on the spit of land protruding between the Kotorosl and Volga Rivers. It was still in the process of being prepared for the summer so its flowers were not yet in full bloom, but it was a nice part of the city. Central Yaroslavl also had a very nice pedestrian mall and is really an easy place to walk around.  We found ourselves wandering there quite a lot in the two days we were in town.

Fortified walls of the monastery

Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior
The Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior, founded in the 12th century, is one of the most historic in the country. Inside the fortified walls are several buildings including the Cathedral of the Transfiguration itself. We walked around the grounds but did not enter the cathedral as it was closed on the days we visited.

Annunciation Cathedral

Annunciation Cathedral
The Annunciation Cathedral was recently rebuilt in 2010 to celebrate the city’s millennium. Originally built in the 1200s, the cathedral is now once again a centerpiece for the city as it sits on the high hill near the city’s founding rock overlooking the Strelka Park.

John the Baptist Church at Tolchkovo

John the Baptist Church at Tolchkovo
Every once in a while you stumble into a place that reminds you why you continue to make the effort. Even after all the cathedrals we’d seen in Russia, this one stood out. The 15 green domed church was awesome.

Natural light in the hallways, John the Baptist Church

The architecture was beautiful and the interior covered in frescos on dimly lit walls. This church is a good walk outside of town and so we were lucky to be the only ones here, and that also adds to the feeling of a place like this where the suns rays peirce the shade of the hallways and throw interesting light around. We would recommend visiting Yaroslavl just to see this place.

At the beach along the Volga River at night

We were extremely fortunate to come across couchsurfing hosts that allowed us to stay in their extra apartment. Having our own space was really nice after a prolonged run of shared accomodation and the Russian apartment served us well. We enjoyed an evening with our hosts and their friends, in which we cooked dinner and they provided an ample amount of wine. After dinner they drove us around the city in the evening and took us to the beach on the east bank of the Volga. Conversation and wine flowed well and it we attained a good insight into Russian political and social views. And there is nothing quite so beautiful as the pink haze of the late setting northern sun over the Volga River, especially when accompanied by nice people and nice wine.

Click here to see our Yaroslavl photos

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