Beyond the hustle and bustle of its very chaotic capital, Russia boasts of old towns that still retain its distinct medieval architecture. These cities, known among locals as the Golden Ring because of its proximity with one another, also preserve its later buildings erected from the 16th to 20th centuries.
One of the most visited cities in the Golden Ring is Vladimir, located in the central part of the Eastern European Plain and sitting on a steep hill beside the Klyazma River. Travelers are drawn to this big city not only because of its architecture, but also because of its churches that were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
When visiting the churches of Vladimir, your first stop should be the Cathedral of the Assumption, which is one of the most historically important Russian Orthodox churches. Built in 1158 with only one dome, it was renovated in 1185 to include four smaller domes. Meanwhile, its eclectic bell tower was built in 1810 as a replacement to the former hip-roof tower. Step inside this church and you can see ancient frescos from as early as late 12th century. It also houses a museum, which displays its importance especially when it became the seat of the Metropolitan, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, in 14th century.
Not too far is the Cathedral of St. Demetrius, which was completely built in 1197 as an in-house church of the Prince’s court. Before its reconstruction in the 19th century, the cathedral was actually connected to the palace. The lower part of the walls is flat-where the galleries that were linked to the palace used to be located-while the upper part is covered with fine stone carvings, which depicted the life of King David (although the meaning of some carvings remain unknown). The cathedral, just like that of the Assumption, houses a museum that presents detailed explanations for several carvings as well as details from the original fresco.
There are other churches that Vladimir can offer, but we suggest that you experience them yourself.