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Author Topic: Russia's Golden Ring Cities - Золотое кольцо  (Read 24315 times)

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Offline mendeleyev

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Russia's Golden Ring Cities - Золотое кольцо
« on: October 04, 2010, 11:24:27 PM »
Золотое кольцо,'The Golden Ring' is one of the oldest Russian routes. Situated in the north-east of Moscow, it forms a circle of sorts.


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Its not uncommon for locals to declare that the 'classical' route (counter clockwise) starts in Moscow and follows ring through the towns of Vladimir, Suzdal, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Rostov Velikiy, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Sergiev Posad. As each town is close to each other, the 'Golden Ring' forms a ring that makes it possible to travel from town to town, making a circle that ends back at the starting point.

So, which destinations are legitimately part of the Golden Ring? As you can see from the two maps there are differences of opinion as to which cities belong, and which don't. During Soviet times, Communist officials created an official list of Ivanovo, Kostroma, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Rostov Veliki, Sergiev Posad, Suzdal, Vladimir, and Yaroslavl. Judging by Russian historians, and popularity of tours, visitors don't necessarily agree and often stops on the circle include Alexandrov, Gus-Khrustalniy, Murom, Rybinsk, and Uglich, as well as many other small towns and villages.


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The most comfortable mode of travel is by car but it is possible to use a combination of bus and train transport to tour the Golden Ring.

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2010, 11:31:21 PM »
In coming installments we'll visit each destination, town by town in order of the map and get to know the Golden Ring up close.

Offline skiingandrunning

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2010, 07:00:01 AM »
Mendy,

It took me several trips, but I have been able to almost close the loop as I have visited Sergiyev Posad (several times), Peryaslavi-Zalessky, Rostov, Yaroslavi, Suzdal, Vadimir, and Bogolubovo.  For me visiting Russia had much to do with learning about the country and I would highly suggest visiting the Golden Ring for anyone who has similar interests as the cities are near Moscow and it provides a person with an entirely different view of Russia as the cities are struggling in comparison to Moscow (gives you a better idea of the true condition in Russia) and a whole lot of history.  I look forward to your adding to my knowledge of the cities and might add a few comments if you do not mind as my visits are still fresh in my mind.

Note: Best seen if you have your own car as I have been fortunate to have my friends from Moscow show me around.  



Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 08:17:30 AM »
Quote
For me visiting Russia had much to do with learning about the country and I would highly suggest visiting the Golden Ring for anyone who has similar interests as the cities are near Moscow and it provides a person with an entirely different view of Russia as the cities are struggling in comparison to Moscow (gives you a better idea of the true condition in Russia) and a whole lot of history.
 

So true, and so important to gain a perspective of Russia on the whole as you say, as opposed to just thinking of Russia in terms of the 3-4 largest cities.



Quote
I look forward to your adding to me knowledge of the cities and might add a few comments if you do not mind as my visits are still fresh in my mind.

Comments and personal experiences absolutely welcome!

Offline mendeleyev

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Moving counter clockwise we leave Moscow for our tour of the Golden Ring. As illustrated on this scene of Moscow's Garden Ring road, soon we'll leave modern Russia behind because as skiingandrunning mentioned in the previous post, the Golden Ring is an important way to discover the beauty of ancient Russia.


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Our first brief stop will be a town not even on most "official" Golden Ring maps. But as we travel M7 we'll quickly find ourselves in Noginsk (Ногинск), just 34 kilometers (21 mi) east of the Moscow ring road along the Klyazma River. With a population over 115,000 its certainly a town worth discovering.


Today the town primary industries include fisheries and fish canning, a large beverage facility, Bogorodsk Brewery, and and Bogorodskavtotrans, a transportation company. Noginsk is a well traveled transportation hub being the intersection of the Nizhny Novgorod highway, M7 (E22) and the Moscow Minor Ring road.

Like many towns, Noginsk has endured several name changes. It was founded in 1389 as Rogozhi, then later renamed as Bogorodsk (meaning "a City of the Mother of God") by decree of Catherine the Great in 1781. In 1930 the Soviets renamed the town in honour of Bolshevik activist Viktor Nogin. Today there is a campaign by city officials to bring the city's historical name back to Bogorodsk.

Noginsk is a popular "suburb" with business commuters and dacha owners. Travel to Moscow is primarily via the M7 Moscow-Nizhny-Novgorod highway takes 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic conditions and the time of day.


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(photo: Н. Волкова)


Like most towns along this tour, Noginsk proves that the Golden Ring is a literal treasure chest of ancient culture, churches and monasteries.

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2010, 08:55:21 AM »
Back in the 1930's this was the way to travel from Moscow to Noginsk:


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Today the transport options are much more modern and buses travel perhaps still crowded but at least less stressful with a tad more comfort. Here is the Расписание автобусов (bus schedule): http://noginsk-grad.ru/content/express_help/global.html



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Here is the Расписание электричек (electric train schedule) from Moscow's Kursk Rail station to the Noginsk station: http://noginsk-grad.ru/content/transport.html


Offline skiingandrunning

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2010, 09:00:45 AM »
Quote
Travel to Moscow is primarily via the M7 Moscow-Nizhny-Novgorod highway takes 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic conditions and the time of day.

When talking about the M7, as Mendy mentioned it's the main road between Moscow and Nizhny-Novgorod, but the first thing you'll notice is the stop and go traffic as it'll remind you a lot more of a main Urban street than a freeway between two important cities until you are outside the Moscow region and even then it goes through instead of around all the small towns along the way.  The things that I found of interest are the number of people selling things along the road as it's very common in the villages to see a bucket of apples or other produce from the gardens being sold (we did stop and buy some).  Also, it seemed like each village specialized in selling something different as one seemed to have dozens of people selling stuffed animals and another was big bags of popcorn.  

When traveling this route you will also have an introduction to rest areas, Russian style.  What you'll see are dirt areas where you can pull off the road and a series of kiosks giving it a flea market feel (I have seen the same thing in the south Urals region) and usually a number of working girls at the far ends.  I was surprised by one such area as it seemed to specialize in camping and fishing gear which I hope had a few bargains as we almost hit two men running across the road to do a little shopping  :scared0005: .   Now if you are wondering about the toilets, well do not worry as my friend mentioned that's what the forest is used for  ;D.

Edited, exchanging bold for quotes...

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2010, 09:30:29 AM »
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So true about the traffic...stop and go, then a stretch of open road, followed by stop and go at the next town.



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Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2010, 09:42:33 AM »
Just in case readers are curious, the town of Noginsk does have girls. 


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Apparently in times of shortages they bring them in from other places by truck.  :chuckle:


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It would almost seem as if there is an exchange program of sorts...trading girls from one region in return for musical instruments, shipped to cities where there are shortages of used pianos.


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Of course these are patriotic girls who enjoy each year's Victory Day celebration and parades.


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(This post of course not serious about ladies being "shipped in" as the people of the Golden Ring region are very real and genuinely nice.)

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2010, 09:26:03 PM »
Some of the nicest photos of the Noginsk area come from the lens of talented camera professional Е.Н. Маслова. Based in the region, she certainly is a master at what she does!


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Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2010, 10:04:32 PM »

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(photo by Е.Н. Маслова)



If there is one constant about the cities of the Golden Ring it is the abundance of ancient churches and monasteries. This is the Theotokos of Tikhvin church in Noginsk, named after one of the most sacred Russian Icons. The famed Theotokos of Tikhvin (Tikhvinskaya) Icon was quietly smuggled to the USA during early Soviet years and returned to Russia recently by the Orthodox Church in America (itself a "daughter church" of the Russian Orthodox Church).


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Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2010, 10:32:08 PM »
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(Church of the Neo-martyr Konstantin)



The Noginsk Cathedral is one of this area's main attractions:


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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2010, 10:36:46 PM »

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(Dormition of the Theotokos)



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(Theotokos of Saint Vladimir)

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2010, 10:45:06 PM »
The town of Noginsk is at the edge of the Moscow Oblast (administrative region) and as we leave here the next stop will be Pokrov, a town in Vladimir Oblast.

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2010, 11:17:19 PM »
We can take the Electric train to Pokrov which would take us to the small train station.


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The M7 "Volga" Highway (М7 "Волга"), also known as Е22, is a common route to Pokrov.


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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2010, 10:32:41 PM »
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(photo: Pokrov city webpage)


Welcome to Pokrov (Покров).

Pokrov is just to the north of the Klyazma River and only 82 kilometers (51 mi) west of Vladimir. It's a small town with a population around 15,000. Pokrov is home to a Kraft Foods chocolate factory, and it was here that Kraft built what many believe to be the world's first Monument to Chocolate.


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Don't even think of starting a fire on the Electric train because the city of Pokrov is ready to speed to the scene of that train fire and.....and......(actually, we're not sure what they would do upon arrival)...


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Honestly, that fire truck is kind of scary as the name of the city Pokrov is translated as "protection."   :chuckle:

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2010, 10:50:52 PM »
Pokrovski cathedral:


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(photo: Gregory A. Kharikoff)



Below is the well known "Pokrov house on Lenin Street"...


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(photo: Gregory A. Kharikoff)

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2010, 12:03:01 AM »
Most Golden Ring tours never stop in Pokrov except for a rest and eating stop. That is puzzling as of all the magnificant ancient churches and monasteries in the region, one of the most special treasures is located just outside Pokrov.

Its possible that you've seen this landmark on calendars, photo books and on in photo speads in journals from National Geographic to Time. This gem is the "Island monastery of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary."


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(photo: Gregory A. Kharikoff)


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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2010, 12:11:52 AM »
This women's monastery was established in 1708 and remained in continuous existence until 1918 when closed by the Communists. Divine services were allowed on Sundays until 1924 when the Soviet government closed all religious activities and converted the facilities into a supervised home for invalids. Around 1932 an orphanage was added and then in 1935 the facility was converted to a "re-education colony" for political prisoners. In the 1940s the Soviets began to demolish the historic chapels and converted the remaining main buildings into a community club and cinema.


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(photo: Gregory A. Kharikoff)


The photo above is of the Saint Nicholas Church, one of the structures that survived the Communist destruction.



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(photo: Gregory A. Kharikoff)


It was finally returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1995 and the monastery has since been restored to a degree although many of the ancient structures were demolished during the Soviet period.

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2010, 01:02:56 AM »
As we leave Pokrov we look forward to visiting one of the most special of the Golden Ring cities. It was the capital of Russia at one point in history--the city of Vladimir, "vlah-DEE-mehr."

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2010, 07:22:14 PM »
Many folks travel to Vladimir by electric commuter (suburban) trains via Moscow's Kursky station (Kursky serves southern Russia, the Caucasus, Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea. Address: 29 Ul. Zemlyanoi Val). In a sense the route is convenient because Vladimir is on the way to the much larger city of Nizhni Novgorod.


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Called Elektrichka (электричка), these are low-comfort trains with simple benches, each seating three, facing the opposite bench. Not every car is equipped with toilets; in some trains there are as few as only two per train.


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Spans between stations are usually relatively long, therefore elektrichkas also stop at numerous specially-built stops, known as platforms (платфо́рма). Sometimes these stops consist of nothing more than a simple platform, sometimes shorter than the length of the entire train, and are located within unincorporated areas.

Although it's possible to take the train, we don't recommend it. First, there isn't a convenient route or loop to take you around the Golden Ring as you'd be shuttling from one small station to another. Second is the time factor. The travel time from Moscow to Vladimir is about 3 hours each way and the early train leaves Moscow just past 8am and arrives before Noon--half the day would be already gone and you'd only have visited the first main stop with the evening return trip adding another 3 hours back to Moscow.

It is also possible to travel from Moscow to Vladimir by bus. Buses depart from the inter-city bus station at Shelkovskaya metro station. There are at least ten buses per day, either running between Moscow and Vladimir or heading for further destinations (Kovrov, Ivanovo, Gus-Khrustalny, Murom, Vyazniki). However, it is more convenient to use private buses that depart from the square near Kursky railway station. These buses leave about every half hour and are generally faster with limited stops.

As skiingandrunning posted earlier in the thread, the easiest and fasted way is via car using the M7 highway, Moscow to Vladimir.

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2010, 08:45:14 PM »

Called Elektrichka (электричка), these are low-comfort trains with simple benches, each seating three, facing the opposite bench. Not every car is equipped with toilets; in some trains there are as few as only two per train.

It seems like most people opt to take the bus between these cities, based on the reasons Mendy mentions (as the bus is usually faster and more comfortable).  From what I have seen, the Elektrichka usually becomes a viable option on shorter routes (e.g. between Sergiyev Posad and Moscow) when you'll be traveling during periods when traffic will be bad due to everyone coming and going to their Dachas (I have been caught in several of these traffic jams and they can be monumental, adding hours to a trip). 

Another note related to the bus, when I was in Valdimir I noticed several tour buses stopping at the sites loaded with Russian tourists (I would imagine that one could find one of these in English, but far nicer if you have a Russian friend with a car to take you around).  Oh, talking about cars, you could have hitched a ride on this solar car which was traveling through Valdimir on the day I was there (it was being trailed by an electric motorcycle proving that you can never be sure what you'll see in Russia). 


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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2010, 09:24:08 PM »
The Golden Ring's main towns began as outposts of the Kyivan (Kievan) Rus state and grew as people moved north as Kiev (now capital of Ukraine) declined. At the start of the 12th century, Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Kiev founded a fort at Vladimir and gave the Rostov - Suzdal principality in which it lay to his son Yuri Dolgoruky. Yuri made Suzdal his capital but concentrated his energies down south, eventually winning the title of Grand Prince of Kiev and installing himself there. He still took the precaution of fortifying the settlements of Pereslavl-Zaiessky and Kostroma in his original territory, along with a small western outpost along the river called Moscow.


After Yuri died in 1157, his son and successor, Andrey Bogolyubsky, spurned the chance of establishing himself in Kiev and moved back to the more secure northern territories. Andrey based himself at Vladimir, which became the effective capital of Russia in 1169 when Andrey sacked Kiev, taking the Grand Prince title north. Under these princes and their successors, Suzdal grew rich as a commercial center and Vladimir sprouted cathedrals, monasteries and massive city walls. Rostov, Yaroslavl and other cities later split off as separate principalities.



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Vladimir's main street runs west to east near the Klyazma River and passes through the historical centre. The main street changes names depending on location. Upon entry from Moscow it is Московское шоссе and then becomes проспект Ленинаулица Студёная гора – Дворянская улица – Большая Московская улица – Большая Нижегородская улица. On the road towrds Nizhny Novgorod it becomes Добросельская улица.


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(Prospekt Lenina - Lenin Avenue)


The area entering Vladimir from Moscow passes the Golden Gate. It is a real gate that was originally built in 1158-64. At that time, the city was surrounded by a walled fortress with five stone gates. The Golden Gate is the only remaining part of the complex and the unique monument of ancient fortifications in Russia.


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(Golden Gate, built in 1158 and reconstructed in 1795)


There is an ancient church at the top of the structure. When moving the capital of Russia from Kiev (now Ukraine) to Vladimir, Andrew the Pious (ruler) wanted the capital to have Golden Gates as existed in the holiest cities of Eastern Orthodoxy - Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Kiev. On making Vladimir his capital he commissioned this towering structure over the city's main gate. A fantastic sight at the time, the tower and gates were constructed from limestone and lined with golden plaques. The church at the top was dedicated to the Deposition of the Virgin's Robe to proclaim the Theotokos's (Virgin Mary) protection of Russia's new capital.


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(photo: Anneli Salo)


However after the capital was moved to Moscow, the structure fell into disrepair and on a visit Catherine the Great refused to allow her carriage to pass through the arch because of it's condition. She ordered engineers to copy the exact plan and dimensions and the Gates were reconstructed in 1795.

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2010, 09:35:33 PM »
From my experience, Valdimir could be a good first nights stop when seeing the Golden Ring.   Now what surprised me was that I thought the hotel rates were high relative to the product your received as we stayed at a Bed & Breakfast near the center of town and paid 4100 pyb.  The Hotel Valdimir which is near the main sites and slightly lower in price seemed to be a good option as we stepped in to have a look around as it was recommended by a few of my friends co-workers (it also had a Pizza restaurant which was relatively crowded).  

On the topic of restaurants, this is a really good one and can be busy on weekend nights, it was only a block off the main road but seemed to be way off the beaten path (one block down and over form the Hotel Valdimir).

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Now for the sights, if you are concentrating on the main sites, you only need half a day (even if you are taking your time).  It's easy to do a walking tour and why not start with the Golden Gates (Mendy, you do a great job with the history) which contains a small museum upstairs (you might need to dodge a few cars to get there  :scared0005: ) that contains a nice 3D model of the city when it was attacked and a lot of pictures and mementos from WWII.  It's also a popular stop for newlyweds as they drive around town to have pictures taken.

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The next stop might be a little harder to find, but it's really just a short walk up a hill from the Golden Gate (follow the remnants of the cities wall).  Here you'll find a nice little museum and learn that old men were chasing young women in Russia way back in 1917 as they have a page of a Marriage Paper displayed there.  There are also a few nice views from the top of the tower to take a few pictures.

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Re: Золотое кольцо - Russia's Golden Ring Cities
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2010, 09:38:57 PM »
I would love to visit that museum! The times in Vladimir for our family the museum has been closed. The Great Patriotic War information would be fascinating for me, personally!

There is a nice website in English regarding the museum and city: http://www.museum.vladimir.ru/eng/arch/vladimir/gold_gate_e?menu=vladimir


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