Say goodbye to Moscow, well, just for the day! One of our friendly drivers will pick you up right at your hotel and take you to Sergiyev Posad. It’s about a two hours’ drive and immediately upon arriving you should see for yourself why it is the favorite of many Golden Ring travelers.
The name of the town refers to Saint Sergius of Radonezh, one of the most important Russian saints. After living some time as a hermit alone in the forest, other monks heard of the saint’s austere discipline and began to follow him. Laboring in order to survive, they also managed to found numerous monasteries, none of which retains as much importance as the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad.
The Trinity Lavra will occupy the majority of our time in Sergiyev Posad. However, it is a complex of fifty buildings! Obviously we cannot see them all, nor are all of them open to the public, but luckily some of those with the most interesting architecture are. For example, the refectory, where monks shared communal meals. Our tour guides are well-studied and will paint the picture of life at a monastery, in early centuries, as well as in present-day. Imagine the challenge of hanging 42 enormous bells in a baroque belltower, 264 feet in the air. Then, to truly understand the marvels of engineering within the Lavra’s walls, imagine doing this in the time of Empress Elizaveta, around the year 1744. In these and other structures you will see amazing icon paintings, tile work and mosaics, vaulted archways, and ornately carved columns. Overall, Sergiyev Posad is an absolute treasure trove of Russian decorative and religious art.
Hopefully we will have worked up a big appetite and head off to enjoy a typical Russian meal at a local restaurant. Food is a great way to experience other cultures, so ask all the questions you want over lunch. Do Russians drink more tea or coffee? What are the most popular herbs and spices in Russian cuisine? What ethnic foods from outside of Russia are popular within the country? Some of the answers will probably surprise you!
After lunch, we will have some time to relax and digest on our ride to Vladimir. The height of this gorgeously preserved medieval city took place in the 12th century under the reign of Andrey Bogolyubsky and up until the notorious invasion of the Mongols in the early 13th century. A group of buildings known collectively as “The White Monuments” were constructed in this epoch, which include: The Golden Gate, The Assumption Cathedral, and The Cathedral of Saint Demetrius. Our goal is to show you as much as we can, while also detailing the historical events that took place here.
You will take a citywide tour highlighting the unique features of Vladimir’s famous architecture. The Assumption Cathedral doesn’t just showcase the picture-perfect onion domes typical of Russian churches, but one of a kind carvings on the exterior as well. Inside, some of Andrei Rublev’s best work was completed, creating a sublime, yet opulent elegance. The Cathedral of Saint Demetrius once again features relief work, mixing both pagan and Christian imagery from saints and angels to mythical monsters and heroes, plants, and animals. This sculptural work, the amazing frescoes, and the balanced building design, all evidence the unparalleled artisan culture of early Vladimir.
We aim to set off for Moscow around 6:00pm. It takes about three hours to return to the capital, after what surely will have been a full and enjoyable day!