European Countries

Yaroslavl Old Town (World Heritage)

Yaroslavl is one of the oldest cities in Russia and one of the cities of the Golden Ring around Moscow. More than 20 churches from the 17th century characterize the old town. The massive white church buildings with their lavishly decorated interiors are important examples of Russian architecture, such as the fortified Spassky Savior Monastery, the Nikolaus Nadein Church, the Elias Church and the Church of the Nativity.

Yaroslavl Old Town: Facts

Official title: Yaroslavl old town
Cultural monument: Over 1,000 years old Russian regional capital with more than 20 churches from the 17th century and numerous monasteries; including Spasski (Savior) Monastery from the 16th and 17th centuries with a three-domed church (1516) of the Moscow type, Nikolaus Nadein Church (completed 1621, wall paintings 1641), Elias Church (1647-1650, frescoes 1680/81) with rich furnishings from the 17th and 18th centuries, Church of the Nativity (1635-1644, frescoes 1683) with a tower (1650-60); in the suburb of Korowniki St. John Chrysostom Church (1649-54, frescoes 1732), brick building with ornamentation of glazed bricks; in Toltschkowo the fifteen-domed church of John the Baptist (1671-1687, frescoes 1794/95); Art museum with one of the most important collections of Russian icons from the 13th to 17th centuries Century; numerous other buildings, including the Volga Tower and the Volkov Theater
Continent: Europe
Country: Russia
Location: Yaroslavl on the Volga, 250 km northeast of Moscow
Appointment: 2005
Meaning: Unique ensemble of Orthodox Russian churches and monasteries; Testimony to the cultural and architectural exchange between Western Europe and Russia; outstanding example of the Russian urban planning reform of 1763

Yaroslavl old town: history

1010 Founding of Yaroslav by Yaroslav the Wise
1218 Capital of the Principality of Yaroslavl
1238 Destruction of the city by the Tatars in 1463
1463 Connection to the Grand Duchy of Moscow
1750 Foundation of the Volkov Theater (first Russian national theater)
1763 Urban planning reform for all of Russia by Catherine II the Great
1796 Governorate capital
1911 Replacement of the wooden Volkov Theater with stone construction in the style of Moscow Classicism
2010 Yaroslavl’s 1000th anniversary

A hundred years older than Moscow – the old town of Yaroslavl

Yaroslavl’s coat of arms shows a bear standing on its hind legs with a halberd in its left paw. There are many stories about the history of the city, and the bear also points to a legend: The rich history of Yaroslavl began in 1010 on the Strelka, the headland at the mouth of the small river Kotorosl into the broad, majestic Volga At that time, Yaroslav the Wise, Prince of Kiev, planned to set up a trading post here. The residents of the local settlement »Medveshij Ugol« – »Bear Corner« were not particularly impressed by his plan and – so the legend would have it – hounded a holy bear on his neck. The daring Yaroslav managed to defeat the huge bear with a powerful blow, so that he decided afterwards, to found a city at this very point: Yaroslavl. The city owes its picturesque appearance to the urban planning reform that Catherine II had worked out for all of Russia in 1763 in order to transform it into a modern country that does not hide its wealth.

While some significant historical structures were preserved, the city was redesigned from the ground up in the neo-classical style: streets were straightened and widened, new boulevards and squares were created. From Sovetskaya pl. for example, smaller streets go out in a star shape; the center is the Prophet-Elias Church, to which visitors are particularly attracted by its wonderful frescoes: in the paintings dedicated to the prophet Elias and his student Elisa, light colors such as sky blue and pink combine with intense green and yellow tones to create a harmonious one Entire. Hardly any other Russian city has so many perfectly shaped masterpieces of wall painting as in Yaroslavl. Like most of them, the frescoes in the Prophet Elias Church were created in the 17th century, which can be considered the city’s golden age. Not only was trade progressing, art developed to full bloom and helped Yaroslavl to gain a high reputation throughout Russia.

The old merchant town seems almost littered with magnificent buildings that testify to the high mastery of old Russian architectural art. Countless onion domes and bell towers rise up into the sky from the churches, monasteries and magnificent cathedrals. The historical buildings are mostly harmoniously combined with the new buildings, which identify Yaroslavl as a modern industrial and port city. The oldest monastery complex in Yaroslavl is the Christ-Transfiguration Monastery, which was founded in the 12th century, although the stone buildings still preserved today were only built from the 16th century, including the cathedral with its strict geometric shapes and clear lines. Inside the typical cross-domed church with its golden head and two smaller.

From the monastery complex, the view falls on the opposite bank of the Kotorosl. The richly decorated church ensemble in Korovniki, consisting of the Church of St. John Chrysostom and the Church of the Virgin of Vladimir, rises up there like a fairy tale and lonely. The connecting elements between the two buildings are the Holy Gate and a narrow bell tower. When the sun is in a certain position in the late afternoon, its rays make the green glazed tiles and the golden moldings on the deep red brick background of the ensemble sparkle. The glaze tiles, often provided with imaginative motifs, decorate the Jaroslav churches and give them their unmistakable beauty. As a substitute for the art of limestone cutting, the often very colorful tiles were used in the 15th.

According to ethnicityology, Yaroslavl is today the largest and one of the most famous old Russian cities of the “Golden Ring”, which winds around the capital Moscow. Some of the cities belonging to the ring were already centers of trade, secular and religious power when Moscow did not even exist. So also Yaroslavl, which is over a hundred years older. The numerous stone churches with their magnificent mosaics, magnificent iconostases and precious church treasures have survived wars and the years of socialism well and they make Yaroslavl a unique cultural landscape that invites visitors to explore Russian culture and tradition outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Yaroslavl Old Town