Now a small city of Suzdal is widely known both in Russia and in the near and distant foreign countries. It is known as a city - museum, a preserve of the Russian cultural heritage which constitutes a complete architectural ensemble of a medieval city - a pearl of "The Golden Ring of Russia ". In Suzdal on the area of 5.5 sq. kms more than 70 monuments of cult architecture of the 13-19-th centuries have survived: 30 stone churches, 3 wooden, 14 bell towers, 5 monastic ensembles; more than 200 monuments of civil architecture of the 17-19-th centuries. In Suzdal the construction of modern buildings above than three floors is forbidden, practically there is no industry. The population of city does not exceed 12 thousand of people. It is really a city - museum in the open air.
The acquaintance to Suzdal should be begun even before entrance to the town. The road takes us on and on and then suddenly, in the distance, from the top of the hill we can see Suzdal spread out before us. In ancient times the travelers usually stopped here and bowed to the churches, having seen them for the first time.
The first written reference to Suzdal occurs in the chronicle in the entry for the year 1024. Initially it was a small settlement on the river Kamenka. In the 11-th century a high rampart and a stockade were put up round the settlement. The central fortified part of the town is called The Kremlin. The rampart of the Suzdal Kremlin has remained in excellent condition to this day.
The oldest building of Suzdal is the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God. It dates back to 1222-1225. It is a white-stone building, with the fragments of rich carved ornamentation of the wall surface. In the 16-th century the Cathedral was reconstructed after a great fire, this time from a brick, with five domes. Dark blue domes with golden stars appeared in the 18-th century. Inside, fragments of 13-th century frescoes and of wall paintings dating back to 1635 have been preserved. Attention should be paid to the Golden Gates of the Cathedral. They are an extremely rare example of Russian 13-th century applied art.
The central Kremlin ensemble is called the Archbishop's Chambers, an architectural complex which grew up during the 15-18-th centuries. The most interesting building is the Cross-vaulted Chamber of the 17-th century without columns. The Archbishop's Chambers contain nowadays different museums - the museum of the history of Suzdal, the Ancient Russian Art museum, the museum of Russian icons.
Near the Kremlin a wooden township is situated - the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life. Log-built churches, huts, barns, mills have been brought here from various parts of the region. The creations of the folk architects displayed in the Suzdal museum are notable for talent, skill and industry.
The Market Square is the trade centre of the city. Here stand the beautiful churches of the Resurrection (1720) and of Our Lady of Kazan (1739) and the Shopping Centre of the 19-th century - an interesting example of Russian neoclassical style.
The monasteries of Suzdal contain treasures of Russian Medieval Architecture and Art. The Savior Monastery of St. Euthymius founded in 1352 is the biggest architectural monastic ensemble. It is a grate museum nowadays. The Convent of the Intercession which is situated on the low bank of the river Kamenka is the most beautiful monastic ensemble of the town. The fate of this cloister is unusual: in the 16-17th centuries the convent became a place of the seclusion of many aristocratic women. Among its nuns were: a daughter and a niece of Ivan III, the wife of Vasily III Solomonia Saburova, the wife of the prince Vladimir Staritsky Yevpraksia, the wife of the tsarevitch Ivan Yevdokia, one of the wives of Ivan the Terrible Anna Vasilchikova.
19 years were spent in the convent by Yevdokia Lopukhina, Peter the Greate's first wife. A sad memory about the monastic prisoners for life keeps the burial-vault of the cathedral: here lie the bodies of more than twenty noble nuns.
It was a glimps of the history and the architectural treasures of Suzdal.
Welcome to Suzdal!