Suzdal (Russian: Су́здаль) — the main historic town of Central Russia, about 25 km north of Vladimir, Vladimir Oblast. It was once the capital of several Russian principalities. Later during Soviet times it earned a federally protected status, which limited the development in the area. Thus the place remains largely the same as ages ago. It was able to preserve a great number of stunning examples of the Russian architecture of the 13th-19th centuries: the Kremlin, several monasteries, countless white-stone temples, complemented by a Museum of wooden architecture.
Although having just under 10,000 residents, Suzdal retains a rural look with streams and meadows everywhere and chicken and livestock a common sight on the streets, some of which remain unpaved. This juxtaposition of stunning medieval architecture with its pastoral setting lends Suzdal a picturesque charm.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one the most interesting of the Golden Ring cities.
HistoryThe town was founded in the 10th century and was subordinate to Rostov Veliky. Later in 1125 Grand Prince Yury Dolgoruky made Suzdal the capital of the Rostov-Suzdal principality. His son Andrey Bogolyubsky built new capital Vladimir, and principality began to be known as Vladimir-Suzdal. Suzdal's political influence started to fade away. Although it was for a short time the centre of Suzdal-Nizhny Novgorod Principality in the fourteenth century. It finally was annexed by Moscow in 1392.
Stone construction in Suzdal was started at the beginning of the thirteenth century before the Mongol invasion. A single Church was built — the Nativity Cathedral of Suzdal Kremlin. Once the Tatar-Mongol invasion ended and the political situation stabilized, stone construction started again in 16th century. It was just slightly inferior to the construction held in Moscow, it continued to prosper until the end of the eighteenth century. At this time Suzdal was an important trading city, located in the heart of a rich agricultural region. In the 19th century Suzdal stopped developing because the Trans-Siberian Railway bypassed it and due to the absence of factories in town. For this reason town's appearance has remained unchanged.
During the time of the Soviet Union, nearly all of Suzdal's economy was planned around its tourist potential. As a result, very few modern buildings were constructed in Suzdal (by law there are no structures more than 2 stories high except cathedrals). Also, wooden structures from other parts of Russia were transported here, and the whole city was converted into an 'open-air museum'.
Tourist high season is summer and mid-winter, with numbers of visitors peaking at weekends and holidays. During off season the city is quiet even on weekends without losing much of its charm.
By trainThe closest train station is in Vladimir. All trains running from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod stops there. Travel time by high-speed train from Moscow to Vladimir — 1 hr 40 min, by slow — 3-3½ hr.
Vladimir's bus station is 50 m away from the train station (across the parking lot).
By busBuses from Vladimir depart every 20-30 min, 06:30 — 21:40, but take your time to find a bus station that brings you back, as it might not be obvious from where to start the journey back. Besides, there are buses from Ivanovo, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Moscow (once daily from Moscow's Shelkovskaya bus station and couple more from Moscow's Kursky Train Station, travel time 4 hr).
Infrequent (2-3 times a day) suburban buses go from Suzdal to Kovrov and Gavrilov Posad. No direct connections to Yuryev-Polsky.
Suzdal Bus station
By carAlong A-113 road from Vladimir (40 km) or Ivanovo (80 km). If coming from Moscow (220 km), follow Vladimir's Northern old bypass, then turn left.
Local buses operates on a four routes. However, you most likely won't need them, as the town is quite small.
Taxis can be found in abundance in front of the shopping arcade. They can be useful for a trip to Kideksha.
- Majority of Suzdal's churches and monasteries are of the 17-18th centuries. With only one building being of the pre-Mongol period, though seriously remodeled, — Cathedral of the Nativity in the Kremlin.
- Kideksha village, featuring real pre-Mongolian Church, is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
- The most interesting architectural sights — the main cathedrals and towers of St. Euthymius Monastery and Pokrovsky Monastery. Also holy gates of the Rizopolozhensky Monastery.
- The most unusual churches - churches with concave tents which can't be found anywhere else except of Suzdal. There are a few of them outside of town's center.
- Museum of wooden architecture — possibly, the best in Central Russia
- Bells listening. For this go to the Monastery of Saint Euthymius.
Suzdal KremlinThe oldest preserved part of the city is Suzdal Kremlin. It is protected on three its sides by river Kamenka, and on the last one - an 11th-century earthen rampart, which still can clearly be seen near Assumption, summer St. Nicholas and winter Nativity churches.
Cathedral of the Nativity TheotokosBuilt in 1222, and rebuilt several times during its long history. Inside of the cathedral one can find preserved painting of 13th-17th centuries, 13th-century Golden Gate. Cathedral's necropolis contains buries of the members of princely and boyar families of 12-17 centuries. Belfry was built in 1635 opposite the cathedral.
Archbishop's chambers15-18th centuries. Consists of three buildings – the "old Archbishop's chambers" (15th century), the refectory "Church of the Annunciation" (16th century) and "bell tower" (1635) – connected by a system of passages and galleries. At the end of the 17th century a huge cross chamber was built, which now hosts a museum. Museum exhibits a model of ancient city of Suzdal and also features interior, recreated by the descriptions of the 18th century.
Wooden Church of St. NicholasThis church was built in Glotovo in 1766 and was moved to Suzdal in 1960 to be part of a museum of wooden architecture. The church is elevated off the ground about a story high from when it was moved across the country. This church is made out of all wood and represents the close relationship between wood and stone architecture and how precise the Russians were while building this back in 1766.
Church of the Assumptionaddress: Kremlyovskaya str.17th century. Built in Naryshkin Baroque style. Current appearance has acquired as a result of reconstruction after a fire in 1719. Used to have a belfry and a fence with a small gate, destroyed in 1920s.
Church of St. NicholasBuilt 1729-1739. One of the first churches built in the city after the great fire of 1719 and one of the five churches in Suzdal with a bell tower in the form of a concave tent, the so-called "Suzdal tune".
Church of the Сhrist Nativity1775 year. A small winter church of the 18th century next door to the summer St. Nicholas one. If there won't be a cupola, one could confuse it with a regular residential house.
Monastery of St. Euthymius
address: Ul. Lenina, ~135The Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery is one of the largest and best preserved monasteries in Suzdal. It is very large and houses more than 10 separate museums, including a museum commemorating the GULAG and Russian historical museums. It is just as impressive (perhaps more) than the Moscow Kremlin. One can spend an entire day touring the museums and churches. But if that's too much (understandably) it is still worth a visit if only for the main cathedral, which is richly decorated with colorful frescoes.
Savior CathedralBuilt in 1594.
Annunciation GatechurchBuilt in the 1600s.
Assumption refectory church
St. John the Baptist Churchaddress: ulitsa Lenina, 53This church was built in 1720, at the same time that the St. Nicholas church was built, although the difference between the types of architecture of the two churches is quite remarkable. Whereas the St. Nicholas Church is all wooden, the St. John Church is made out of white plastered walls with wooden supports.
St. Alexander Conventaddress: Ulitsa Gasteva (ул. Гастева), ~21
Holy Gateaddress: Ulitsa Gasteva1695
Convent of Intercession
Cathedral of the Intercessionaddress: Pokrovskaya ulitsa, 50
Saints Peter and Paul church
St. Nicholas church
Cathedral of Rizopolozhensky
Remains of Sretenskoi Refectory Church1882
Holy Gateaddress: Ulitsa Kropskoi1688
Church of Feast of the Cross
Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian
Church of Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Church of St. Lazarus of Bethany resurrection
- Cucumber Day - July 16. A holiday to celebrate Suzdal's cucumbers, which have a reputation as the best cucumbers in central Russia. This holiday is celebrated with a folk music festival.
Walk on Kamenka RiverIn winter months, when the river is frozen, do walk the length of the river. This is the lifeline of the city and you will see sleighs being pulled and men ice-fishing in the river. It is a beautiful way to see the city.
Carriage/Sleigh RideA carriage or sleigh ride through Suzdal is a memorable (though expensive) experience. The young men offering the rides may be found everywhere, and they start their negotiations with very steep prices. You should be able to negotiate down, depending on the season. Also, shorter rides can be negotiated.
Merchant Yardaddress: ulitsa Lenina, 63аLocals selling vegetables to each other and souvenirs to tourists.
Trapeznaya restaurantThis restaurant features a traditional Russian menu of bliny (pancakes) with caviar, priced much lower than in Moscow. Try their marinated forest mushrooms - they are beautiful and tasty, whether eaten plain or alongside a serving of cold vodka.
KorchmaThis is a nice restaurant, featuring high-quality, traditional Russian food. The local cranberry and groundberry vodka-based liquer Susdalskaya Nastoika -- is worth a try.
Bistro Samovarnayaaddress: Ul. Lenina (ул. Ленина), 84
Cafe Privratnitskayaaddress: (Спасо-Евфимиев монастырь)
Dining room of the city administration
Vasilyevsky Monasteryphone: +7 49 231 21800address: Vasilyevsky StreetFor those interested in a monastic type of stay. The rooms are comfortable, warm, and clean, but are fairly bare-bones, as guests live alongside resident monks. No telephone, TV, or shared kitchen is provided. Two shared bathrooms are available. It is best to exit at Suzdal Bus Station and walk to the monastery. Pay for the room inside the church.
Godzillas Suzdalphone: +7 49 231 25146address: Ul. Naberezhnaya (ул. Набережная) 32
phone: +7 903 779-9260, +7 905 619-6255address: Ul. Tsvetochnaya (ул. Цветочная), 5аfree Wi-Wi-Fi.
phone: +7 49 231 23303address: ul. Lenina (улица Ленина), 41
phone: +49231 20908address: Korovniki (ул. Коровники), 45is the largest hotel, with a 3-star rating. It is ideal for backpackers, and features "cottages" with attached garages. Camping. Spa. Restaurant.
phone: +7 49 231 28000, +7 922 420277address: ul. Korovniki 14A complex of hotels with big wooden rooms and a sauna, in a very quiet locale. From here, it takes 20 minutes to walk to the town center, and nearly 40 minutes to walk to the Kremlin.
Sokol Hoteladdress: ulitsa Lenina, 50А,( Торговая площадь)A large hotel renovated in 2014. 67 rooms in two buildings.
- Kovrov — the second largest city in the region with a major defense industry presence
- Murom — a large ancient city (9th century) with enormous history and cultural importance to Russia; home to the 11th century Saviour Monastery and several cathedrals
- Vladimir — 900-year-old city and home to numerous Russian cultural monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage list, which attract hordes of tourists each summer on the Golden Ring circuit
- Yuryev-Polsky — a town notable for its 13th-century Cathedral of Saint George and the Monastery of Michael the Archangel