Suzdal Travel Guide
Suzdal Travel Guide
Suzdal is a beautiful small town in a picturesque location not far from Vladimir and 190 km from Moscow. It’s situated in a hilly place from which you can enjoy the beauty of Russian nature. It is a cosy and hospitable city with small wooden houses, churches and monasteries. Here, you can experience the true Russian spirit for yourself.
Suzdal is located in the Vladimir region, 30 km from Vladimir itself. The distance between Moscow and Suzdal is 190 kilometres. It stands on the Kamenka River. It’s a quiet, green and clean town with a cosy atmosphere and a high concentration of historical sites. Suzdal is a small town with a population of 12 000 people. Scientists believe that the Slavic tribes settled here in the 10th century. It was first mentioned in the 11th century, in 1024. While the Rus became Orthodox, Suzdal mostly remained pagan. One day, the Magi rioted because of drought and poor harvest. Jaroslav the Wise from Novgorod crushed the rebellion. He bought bread from the Volga Bulgars, and the population's problems were solved. During the reign of the descendants of Yaroslav the Wise, Suzdal was one of the largest towns in Russia.
Yuri Dolgoruky moved the capital from Rostov to Suzdal. Under his reign, the town developed dynamically. Andrei Bogolyubsky, the son of Dolgoruky, continued his father’s good work. During the Time of Troubles, Suzdal was occupied by the Polish interventionists, in 1608 and 1611. The militia, led by Pozharsky and Minin, was formed in 1612 on Russia’s territory. They wanted to occupy Suzdal and gather the Zemsky Sobor to choose a new monarch. But these intentions were not realised.
When the Time of Troubles finally ended, Suzdal was destroyed, and only about 80 yards were left untouched. In 1634, the Crimean Tatars reached the city. A little later, the town survived a fire and an epidemic. It was a difficult period for Suzdal.
In 1789, Catherine II adopted a plan for Suzdal’s development. The Trade Square became the centre of the town, and a guest yard was built. Before the revolution, residents mainly grew a range of vegetable crops. There were also several factories which produced bells and leather. During the period of the Russian Empire, the town’s population was 8000 people, which has now grown to 12 000. Today in Suzdal, there is a poultry farm, a sewing factory, a dairy plant and a bakery. Suzdal cucumbers are famous in the European part of Russia. Several years ago, the town began to celebrate Cucumber Day.
Suzdal can boast a large number of attractions. There are many churches and monasteries there, including its own Kremlin. There are also lots of monasteries such as the Rizopolozhensky Female Monastery, Spaso Evfimiev Monastery, Holy Protection Convent, St Vasilievsky Monastery and Alexander Monastery. The Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life are outstanding attractions. Visitors can plunge into the past and see how people lived centuries ago.
Where to Stay
Although you won’t find any crowded, noisy hotels in Suzdal, it’s a popular place, so it’s better to book a hotel, a guest house or apartment in advance. It’s a small town, and all the attractions are within walking distance of each other. Puskarskaya Sloboda is one of the best hotels in town. The complex consists of several buildings. They serve tasty breakfasts and offer recreational facilities to their guests. Suzdal Kremlin is just 5 minutes from the hotel. Art Hotel Nikolaevsky Posad offers luxury accommodation with a fitness centre, pool and sauna. Heliopark Suzdal Hotel consists of traditional wooden houses decorated in national style. Panorama Guest House is a classic-style hotel with spacious rooms and nice views from the balconies.
Bars and Restaurants
Suzdal is the best place to try Russian cuisine. Start with Ulei in Pushkarskaya Slodoba. You will feel as if you’re in a Russian fairy-tale, as the restaurant’s interior is decorated with wooden furniture and a beehive. You’ll definitely enjoy the pelmeni, home-made dumplings, salted mushrooms, and medovukha, a sweet alcoholic beverage made of honey. Trapeznaya Restaurant may seem overpriced, but the food is really delicious. Here you can try local fish, elk cutlets and pancakes. In Gоstiny Dvor, have some chicken, pike, shchi (cabbage soup), and kvas, a traditional drink made of bread. Salmon Coffee is a nice place for an unhurried cup of tea or coffee with thyme and marmalade.
What to See
- The Suzdal Kremlin is a white-stone architectural complex in the heart of town. The first ramparts, earthen embankments and city cathedral were built here. From the north, the Kremlin was surrounded by the Kamenka River, and from the east, south and west, the fortress was protected by ditches filled with water. The terrene walls were partly destroyed. Earlier, there were log walls, towers and gates on the ramparts, but all the wooden fortifications were burned in 1719. The Suzdal Kremlin formed the political centre of the town and served as the residence of the prince, bishop and court. Currently, the Suzdal Kremlin consists of several churches and bishop's chambers with the ancient Nativity Cathedral.
- The Monastery of Saint Euthymius was founded on the order of prince Boris Konstantinovich in the name of the Holy Saviour. Vasily III, Ivan the Terrible and other noble families donated funds for the construction of magnificent monastic buildings. A picturesque panorama of the monastery opens out from the other bank of the Kamenka River, where you can see the Pokrovsky Convent.
- The Pokrovsky Convent was founded in the 16th century, when the monastery turned into a place of confinement for the wives of Russian tsars.
- The Rizpolozhensky Convent (the Desposition of the Robe Convent) was founded in 1207 in honour of the Orthodox feast. In the 1920s it was closed, and 12 bells from its belfry were melted down. In 1999, the convent was reopened.
- The Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life is another must-see attraction. In ancient times, Rus architecture was entirely made of wood, including fortresses, huts, royal chambers and belfries. Wood was the most accessible and easily processed material. Unfortunately, most wooden houses were destroyed. This museum was developed in the 1960s by V.M. Anisimov, a gifted restoration specialist. The founders of the museum brought wooden buildings from various parts of the Vladimir region. Now it is a unique architectural reserve which recreates the atmosphere of a Russian village from the 18th-19th centuries. Here, you can see wooden huts, barns, baths, windmills and wooden churches with domes. The interiors of the buildings are supplemented with household utensils and items from that time. The Museum of Wooden Architecture became a popular place for folklore festivals. For example, the Craft Festival and Cucumber Festival, with their songs and dances, were held there.
As there is no railway station in town, the only way to get there is by bus or car. All the town’s attractions are located close to each other, but if you’re tired, take a taxi. The closest station is in Vladimir. The renovated bus station is just 2 km from the centre, and buses stop at the station and then continue on to the centre, so you don’t have to walk at all. The easiest way to get to Suzdal is to take a train from Moscow to Vladimir and then go by bus from there to Suzdal. If you go by car, there may be traffic jams, and it will take you seven hours to get to the town instead of four.
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