Moscow is undoubtedly the crown jewel of Russia. The city is historically significant, architecturally marvelous and culturally abundant. Even though not as magnificent as the big city, Moscow is surrounded by numerous small towns with a history as much as ancient.
This circuit, famously known as the Golden Ring Russia, constitutes about 10 such towns. Most of these are only a short train ride from Moscow. Visiting at least one of these ancient towns is one of the unmissable things to do in Moscow Russia.
The prominent cities in the circuit are Sergiyev Posad, Rostov Veliky, Kostroma Russia, Yaroslavl, Ivanovo, Pereslavi-Zalesskiey and Suzdal. There are many tours offering day trips from Moscow that covers one or two of these towns. If you have time, it is best to rent a car and visit these places yourself. It would surely depend on how long you are staying.
So here we are discussing the two most exciting day trips to the Golden Ring from Moscow.
Among the Golden Ring towns, Sergiyev Posad is the religious and cultural highlight. The reason should be that the Troitse-Sergieva Lavra, the lavish monastic residence and the UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated here. The town is fabled as the spiritual heart of Russia, and every year thousands visit this place as pilgrimage and to pay respects.
The first thing you would notice here is the glistening domes of Sergiyev Posad Russia dominating the sky. The avenue leading to its entrance is lined with shops and kiosks selling souvenirs and scarfs. You are supposed to cover your hair and shoulders before you enter the domain.
The entrance to the lavra is free for everyone. Right from the holy gates, and the mighty walls, the monument will bestow its power upon you. Once you see the elaborate decorations and frescos of the monastery, you will be captivated in the sheer beauty of the complex.
The monastery houses many other religious places and centers that are devoted to Christianity. The Trinity Cathedral is one such place that has an ancient and intimate feel to it.
In the southeast corner of the Cathedral stands the tomb of St. Sergei and there is always a memorial service offered for him. The Dormition Cathedral is the largest building here. It is its golden dome and the four blue domes that are the icon of the place.
The museum complex of Konniy Dvor is now housed in the former stables of the monastery. The permanent exhibition showcases the history and Russia’s art heritage. If you are more interested in the way of living there, drop in at the Peasant Life Museum Zhili-Byli, that can take you to the olden days and the local lifestyle.
After visiting a few other amusing places like the Museum of Toys and Soap Museum, go to the observatory deck at Blinnaya Hill to get the most magnificent views of the domes of the monastery.
It would take you almost a day to visit all the key attractions in Sergiyev Posad. You can either come with a tour from Moscow or go by yourself. Unless you have rented your car, the next best option is to train from Moscow. There are express trains and suburban trains leaving from Moscow’s Yaroslavsky Railway Station that takes around an hour or so to reach. Try to visit on weekdays, as weekends tend to get more crowded with locals also visiting.
Suzdal Russia is a little further from Moscow but closer to Vladimir. It is the most picturesque of the Golden Ring towns, and if you have the time to spare, this is the one to visit. The town is gorgeous with old charm, stunning sceneries and dotted with cottages.
The economy here is primarily based on tourism. There are numerous towns and churches, and even with the tourist invasion, the appeal of a Russian village is still there. The reason is that the authorities avoided building any modern structure here to keep its look intact.
Suzdal was once the royal capital of Russia in the 12th century. Even though there are soviet traits in the buildings, it is not as apparent as the other cities. It has a lot more green spaces, rolling fields and a country touch to it, hard to find in the other hyped tourist centers and Moscow attractions.
Suzdal has its own Kremlin, the citadel. It once played the role of the base of royal when it was the capital. It now comprises a few streets of cute houses, churches and its own main Cathedral. The wooden houses are the most attractive aspect of Suzdal. They are colorful and makes a cheerful break when they come up in the green meadows of the town.
Across the river from the Kremlin, there is the open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life. The museum offers an enthralling glimpse into the rural lives of the folks in Suzdal. Barns, windmills, log houses, 18th century Transfiguration Church and Resurrection Church are the highlights of the museum.
To get a vibrant air in this quaint town, head over to the market square at Torgovaya Ploshchad. Find all kinds of local products there including fruit, honey, vegetables and watch the locals dressed in traditional clothing.
There are no direct trains from Moscow to Suzdal. The best way is to take a train to Vladimir and then a bus or train to Suzdal. The total journey would take around 3 to 3,5 hours. If you have the privilege of time, spend a day at Vladimir too.
If Russia sounds good in text, it is beyond beautiful in reality. You might not want to wait long to get cheap flights to Russia to experience the bliss for yourself.