Alexandrov (Александров) is a city in the north-western part of Vladimir Oblast. The location is known as a medieval residence of Russian princes. It was home to several important events in Russian history. The residence is now transformed into a convent and preserves noteworthy architectural sights, while the city is quite unremarkable.
GeographyAlexandrov is on the eastern edge of Klin-Dmitrov ridge, a series of hills lying north from Moscow. The city stands on the banks of the tiny river Seraya, the left tributary of the Sherna that further flows into the Klyazma. The area near Alexandrov is very typical for the central part of Russia: it is a nearly flat land with vast forests and small fields. Alexandrov is an important transport hub, the crossing of the principal Moscow–Yaroslavl railway and the circular railway line around Moscow (the so-called Big Ring of Moscow Railway). The M8 highway runs 25 km west from the city. A number of local roads pass through Alexandrov and offer connections to Kirzhach, Kol'chugino, Yuryev-Polsky, and to the cities of Moscow Oblast. The population of Alexandrov is 63 000.
To protect himself, Ivan the Terrible organized a special army called oprichnina. This army had superior rights and did not hesitate to rob and murder others (first of all, nobility and merchants). This made Alexandrov a strange and sorrowful place where Ivan the Terrible combined orthodoxal religiousness with the savageness and depravity. The flourish of Alexandrov lasted for 17 years, until 1581. In the fall of 1581, Ivan the Terrible killed his son (this accident is shown in the well-known painting by Ilya Repin) and left Alexandrov forever.
The town rapidly decayed and also suffered from Polish army during the Time of Troubles (1598-1613). In 1654, the former residence was transformed into a convent and later used as a place of exile. Alexandrov has been designated a town since 1778. It gained the regular rectangular layout and later (1870) hosted the Moscow–Yaroslavl railway. In 20th century, Alexandrov was strongly industrialized and lost nearly all of its original buildings. The industry of the city includes the production of electronics (such as TV sets of the well-known Rekord brand), crystals and diamonds, textile, and alcohol.
OrientationAs you arrive to the train and bus station of Alexandrov, you will find yourself on a large square, Komsomol'skaya ploschad (Комсомольская площадь). The street running perpendicular to the railway tracks is called ulitsa Lenina (улица Ленина). It will lead you through the central part of the city and finally bring you to another square, Sovetskaya ploschad (Советская площадь) with the easily recognizable Cathedral of the Nativity on it. Here the street changes its name to Sovetskaya ulitsa (Советская улица), runs downhill, crosses the river, and comes to the convent – the old Alexandrova sloboda. Following the same street after the convent, you will start a way east to Kol'chugino and Yuryev-Polsky.
Another important street is Krasnyi pereulok (Красный переулок) that runs perpendicular to ulitsa Lenina. You will get to this street from the north while arriving by car from the M8 highway (from Moscow, Yaroslavl, and many other destinations). Following the same street in the southern direction will bring you to Kirzhach.
By planeThe nearest international airport is in Moscow.
Trains are preferable for travelling from Moscow, Yaroslavl, and Kirzhach:
- From Moscow: local trains run every hour. The trains depart from Yaroslavsky station, and the trip takes 2 hours. Additionally, there are 2 daily express trains to Yaroslavl and one express train terminating in Alexandrov. The express trains are slightly faster, but they require a "long-distance" ticket (see Russia:Get around for details). All the local trains make a stop at Sergiev Posad. A number of long-distance trains departing from Yaroslavsky station will also stop in Alexandrov.
- From Ivanovo: one local train runs early in the morning, while two long-distance trains to Moscow travel during the night. The trip takes five hours. On the way to Alexandrov, you will pass through Yuryev-Polsky and Kol'chugino.
- From Kirzhach: local trains every 1.5–2 hours (mind the gap in the afternoon), the trip takes 40 minutes.
- From Yaroslavl: same to Moscow, but there are just two local trains per day (travel time 4 hours) and two express trains (2.5 hours). A number of long-distance trains running in southern direction can be used as well. You will pass Rostov Veliky on your way.
There are two railway stations in Alexandrov.
Alexandrov I railway stationphone: +7 49244 24-171 (local trains information), +7 49244 94-310 (general information), +7 49244 24-051 (station assistant)The main railway station, in the very center of the city. This is a stop or a terminal station for all the local trains and for some long-distance trains as well. The station building is open round-the-clock and offers a lounge.
Alexandrov II railway stationIn the western part of the city, along the railway from Kirzhach. Alexandrov II is a regular stop for some of the local trains. The station building is closed.
bus stationphone: +7 49244 24-055 (station assistant),+7 49244 20-357 (local bus company)
- From Moscow: 3 buses per day (# 676), departing from VDNH metro station. The trip takes about two hours (mind longer trips during rush hours).
- From Vladimir: 6 buses per day via Kol'chugino (3.5 hours).
- From Yuryev-Polsky: 2 buses per day (2 hours).
- There are several daily buses from Kirzhach. The town of Kol'chugino is another convenient transit point with buses to Alexandrov departing every 2–3 hours.
By carAlexandrov has road connections to the neighboring towns of Kirzhach (37 km) and Kol'chugino (40 km). From Kol'chugino, you can further reach Yuryev-Polsky (77 km) or Vladimir (120 km, via Stavrovo).
Moscow Oblast and Yaroslavl Oblast can be reached via the 25-km connecting road that joins the M8 highway in the village Dvoriki. The alternative way to Moscow Oblast is the road to Strunino and further to A108. The northern road to M8 (via Lukyantsevo) is not recommended due to the poor quality.
- From Moscow: take M8 highway towards Yaroslavl, then turn right in the village Dvoriki (130 km; 50 km from Sergiev Posad).
- From Vladimir: take M7 highway towards Moscow, then turn right, via Stavrovo and Kol'chugino (120 km).
- From Yaroslavl: take M8 highway towards Moscow, then turn left in the village Dvoriki (190 km; 140 km from Rostov Veliky, 70 km from Pereslavl-Zalessky).
The parking space is available all round the city.
Alexandrova slobodaAlexandrova sloboda is the eldest part of the city and the former residence of Russian princes. It is niw the Assumption convent (Успенский монастырь) jointly operated by the Russian Orthodox Church and the museum. Sloboda is the must-see attraction in the whole city: come here to feel the quiet of ancient walls and churches and to learn something about Russian history. The present white-painted stone walls were built in 17th century and follow the general style of medieval Russian fortresses. Original ramparts from 16th century can be seen outside the walls. Inside the convent, you find several remarkable buildings:
Cathedral of St. TrinityBuilt in 1513. The cathedral is rather conservative in its shape and decorations. It resembles the ancient churches of Vladimir, Bogolyubovo, and Yuryev-Polsky, however the stone carvings are few. Inside the cathedral, you find some original frescos from 16th century and two iron gates. The gate in the southern portal was brought from Novgorod during the punitive expedition of Ivan the Terrible in 1570. The other ancient gate is installed in the western portal and also originates from Novgorod. The gates reveal fine carvings depicting biblical stories. Both gates date back to 14th century and evidence the skill of Russian craftsmen. The cathedral belongs to the church.
Church of the IntercessionThe hip-roof church was built in 16th century. It is the first hip-roof church in Russia. You will hardly feel its beauty from the outside, because this church was the very first attempt to incorporate the hip, a new element in 16th century Russian architecture. Moreover, later annexes, the refectory chamber and the bell tower, also changed the appearance of the building. Still, its interior remains unique due to the wall paintings (frescos) inside the hip. Hips instead of domes are a distinctive, but not very common, feature in Russian architecture. Hips were popular in 16th and 17th centuries, while later traditions restricted the hips to only bell towers. Painting the hips from inside was uncommon even for the medieval tradition. The frescos are painted in dark color and converge to the image of Our Lord in the apex. Overall, they look mystical and awesome. The church used to be attached to the prince palace as an in-house church. The present building of the refectory chamber stands on the spot of the former palace, so in the basement you can still see carved portals and original stone-work from 16th century. The Church of the Intercession is a part of the museum. Tickets are sold at the entrance.
Bell-tower of the Crucifixionaddress: Muzeynyy Proyezd, 1АAn unusual building from the middle of 16th century, the time of Ivan the Terrible. This bell-tower is an example of advanced hip-roof architecture with a pointed hip and numerous semi-round kokoshniki below it (yet the tower is just 40 years younger than the church of the Intercession). The adjoining stone building is known as Marfa's Chambers, the place of imprisonment of princess Marfa, the daughter of Tsar Alexey Michailovich. The museum ticket allows to climb the bell-tower and enjoy panoramic views of Alexandrov.
Church of the AssumptionA regular building in the style of 16th–17th centuries. The church was originally constructed around 1525. However, the reconstructions in 1570s and in the 17th century modified the galleries and added the bell-tower. This church is now a part of the museum.
- Further buildings: church of Theodore Stratelates (надвратная церковь Феодора Стратилата: 1682, over-the-gate), church of the Presentation (церковь Сретения Господня: 1682, a small stocky building in Russian style), living chamber (келейный корпус: 1682, rebuilt in 19th century), and a number of small buildings from 18th – 19th centuries. These buildings are pretty regular, since they were constructed after the decay of the prince residence, as regular churches and houses in a regular monastery.
Cathedral of the Nativityaddress: Советский пер. 11The cathedral was built in 1696 and rebuilt in the middle of 19th century. The present appearance reminds the neo-Byzantine style and, to some extent, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. To continue this comparison, the cathedral in Alexandrov has just one dome due to the low significance of Alexandrov in 19th century. The cathedral is rather unusual, yet it is not really nice.
Church of Bogolyubobo Icon of Our Ladyaddress: Красный пер. 11A regular church in classicism style from 1800.
Church of St. Seraphim of Sarovaddress: Вокзальная ул. 8A Russian revival building from 1904.
Church of the Transfigurationaddress: Садово-Огородная ул. 2аA baroque-style church from 1743, rebuilt in the beginning of 19th century.
Ivanov's houseaddress: ул. Красной молодёжи, 7A nice building in art nouveau style (1912-1914), now used by the city administration.
Railway stationaddress: Комсомольская плThe original station building from 1870, a nice example of Russian railway architecture.
Museum of Marina and Anastasia Tsvetaevaphone: +7 49244 24-279, +7 49244 26-674, +7 49244 25-693address: at the junction of Военная ул. and Военный перThe museum occupies the original wooden building where Anastasiya Tsvetaeva, a Russian writer, lived in 1915-1917. Her sister Marina Tsvetaeva, a famous poetess, visited this house and wrote some of her well-known poems here. The managers of the museum do their best to guide every visitor. In fact, visiting the museum without a guide is just impossible, because there are no exhibits to watch. The whole museum is an elegantly furnished room with photos on the walls and an imitation of the footbridge in the middle. The guide will readily tell you about the Tsvetaevas family and also show an exhibition "Alexandrov – the center of 101st kilometer" about people who were prohibited to live in Moscow during the Soviet times and stayed in Alexandrov. The museum is a local cultural center: it hosts musical and poetical performances, books about Marina Tsvetaeva are also sold here.
Museum of artificial stonephone: +7 49244 92-546address: Институтская ул. 1The museum is attached to the institute of synthetic crystals where artificial crystals of diamond, sapphire, quartz and other minerals are produced. The exhibition includes natural and artificial stones, the production technology, and the resulting jewelry. The museum shop offers stones produced in the institute.
phone: +7 49244 24-389, +7 49244 21-382, +7 49244 21-604address: ул. Советская, 16The museum reconstructs the old merchant's life. The museum staff act as the family of Pervushin, the 19th century Russian merchant originating from Alexandrov. They will tell you about Russian traditions and the history of the house, offer tea and local drinks. The interior is not original. This is however compensated by an unofficial (non-museum) atmosphere, the chance to see things in detail and to touch them. Art exhibition (another branch of the museum) can be found in the neighboring building (Советская ул. 5). The building is also of interest; a remarkable classicism-style building from the middle of 19th century. It is composed of two parts, which are made of different material (stone in the right and wood in the left), yet decorated in a very similar way.
phone: +7 49244 28-073 (information), +7 49244 20-397 (excursions), +7 49244 21-774 (secretary)address: Музейный пер. 20The museum includes seven basic exhibitions. Additionally, it offers a number of scenic "interactive excursions" that reconstruct the medieval atmosphere and show some old Russian traditions, however, in a very imitation way.
- Palace of Ivan the Terrible – the reconstruction of the prince palace.
- Treasures from three centuries – the collection of old books, icons, textile, and embroidery.
- Tsar court in Alexandrova sloboda – the history of the prince residence and oprichnina.
Drama theaterphone: +7 49244 23-600, +7 49244 24-769address: Институтская ул. 6
phone: +7 49244 30-413address: Советская пл.A large entertainment center with a cinema, a night club, and a sushi bar.
Yuzhnyi cinemaphone: +7 49244 61-072, +7 49244 67-578address: ул. Королёва, 6
- Paterson (Патэрсон) – Красный пер. 2 (open daily, 08:00–22:00)
- Pyatyorochka (Пятёрочка) – ул. Ленина, 1
Souvenirs are sold at Alexandrova sloboda: near the entrance and inside the convent.
- Moscow Industrial Bank – Красный пер. 21
- Октябрьская ул. 2
- ул. Революции, 24
- ул. Революции, 36 (central office)
- Советский пер. 33 — south from Sovetskaya ploschad'
- Красный пер. 21
- ул. Ленина, 13
- ул. Ленина, 18
- Октябрьская ул. 6 – near the railway station, 24/7
- Институтская ул. 1 – south-east from the railway station, 24/7
- Красный пер. 2
- ул. Ленина, 13
- Октябрьская ул. 5, стр. 6
- Советская ул. 4
Alexandriaaddress: Казарменный пер. 1
address: ул. Революции, 59A restaurant at the hotel.
Atticaddress: ул. Ленина, 13A small cafe on the second floor of the trade center, the limited range of food (canteen-type).
Bungalowphone: +7 49244 22-683address: ул. Ленина, 22A sushi bar.
Cheburechnayaaddress: ул. Ленина, 62Fast food that offers chebureki (a kind of small pies with meat), pancakes, and grilled meat.
Gusliphone: +7 49244 63-405, +7 920 930-12-12address: Советский пер. 33A restaurant decorated in Russian style.
Personphone: +7 49244 27-981address: ул. Ленина, 26
Pizza landaddress: ул. Ленина, 20аPizza-based fast food.
address: Советская плA restaurant of Japanese and European cuisine (which means a sushi bar with meat food, or the other way around) at the Saturn cinema.
Troikaphone: +7 49244 29-765address: ул. Революции, 45
phone: +7 49244 42-955address: г. Струнино, ул. Суворова, 22A nice pizzeria serving pizza, pasta, soups, salads, as well as traditional fish and meat dishes. Free Wi-Fi.
Larsenphone: +7 49244 64-728, +7 495 510-29-93address: ул. Королёва, 1A restaurant at the hotel.
Russian Versaillesphone: +7 920 902-72-69address: ул. Фабрика Калинина, 20
While there are many places to eat, finding a really nice place can be difficult. Locals will often advise going to the neighboring town of Strunino (Coza Nostra), because most of the restaurants of Alexandrov suffer from typical Russian problems (unfriendly waiters, loud music and drunk people during the evening hours). If you are not too hungry, try the Soviet union coffee house, which seems to follow reasonable standards of quality. For a fast food, cheburechnaya will perfectly suffice.
phone: +7 49244 30-413address: Советская пл
Yubileyniyphone: +7 49244 23-900address: ул. Свердлова, 37
phone: +7 49244 31-483address: ул. Революции, 59The largest hotel of the city. Rooms have been renovated and offer the accommodation of different quality: shared bathroom, private bathroom, or two-room suites. Breakfast included, guarded parking, restaurant.
Islandphone: +7 49244 31-505address: Военная ул. 9A modern mini-hotel, rooms with private bathroom. Breakfast included, guarded parking, restaurant.
phone: +7 49244 64-728, +7 495 510-29-93address: ул. Королёва, 1A modern hotel with a variety of additional services (restaurant, billiard, sport club, barbershop). Rooms are equipped with a bathroom and air-conditioned, suites also offer internet access. Breakfast included, parking available.
Vedrussiyaphone: +7 49244 31-139address: Институтская ул.?A basic accommodation in the ugly part of the city. No breakfast, no parking, no cafe. A limited range of food and drinks is served to the rooms.
Vitaphone: +7 49244 94-597address: Вокзальная ул. 1A mini-hotel offering basic accommodation. Rooms (shared or private bathroom) are noisy due to the trains. No breakfast, guarded parking.
Post officeThe postal code of Alexandrov is 60165*. Offices in the city center:
Central post officephone: +7 49244 21-606, +7 49244 25-871, +7 49244 21-675address: ул. Ленина, 28
Post office # 2phone: +7 49244 22-695address: Кольчугинская ул. 5
Post office # 4phone: +7 49244 20-483address: Вокзальная ул. 1
Internet accessInternet connection should be available at the post offices.
- Arsaki (Арсаки) – the village 20 km west from Alexandrov. The location is known for the monk's settlement (Смоленско-Зосимова пустынь), a 17th-century side settlement (skit) of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius (Sergiev Posad). Arsaki keeps nice examples of red-brick churches in Russian revival style from late 19th century. The buildings belong to the church, but they are inside the military territory. Entering this territory requires an ID and is likely problematic for non-residents.
Get in: buses and minibuses to Strunino (every hour). The bus should follow "via Karinskoe". There is an alternative route taking a different road.
Get in: local trains to Kirzhach, buses or minibuses every 15–30 minutes.
Get in: no public transport.
Get in: three buses daily.
Get in: buses every two hours.
- Get in: local trains to Moscow, buses every 20–30 minutes.
- Kirzhach – the small town interesting for its 16th century monastery.
- Kol'chugino – one of the relatively new towns of the region. It lacks any important tourist attractions, yet the services (hotels and restaurants) may be useful.
- Rostov Veliky – one of the main destinations of the Golden Ring, the ancient town with numerous remarkable monuments.
- Sergiev Posad – the well-known destination with a huge ancient convent, one of the most important religious places in Russia.
- Yuryev-Polsky – the ancient town with a unique 13th century cathedral and sleepy provincial atmosphere.