Sights of Yuriev Polsky and the surrounding area
Yuriev Polsky is a small Old Russian town in Vladimir region, founded in 1152. The sights of Yuriev Polsky gained fame throughout the country, due to which it had the status of a historical settlement, which was undeservedly deprived in 2010. Yuriev Polsky is a member of the Great Golden Ring of Russia.
A few facts about Yuriev Polsky
- Yuriev Polsky is located on the Koloksha River. The founder of the city is Prince Yuri Dolgoruky (founder of the city of Moscow), thanks to whom a wooden Yuryev Polsky Kremlin appeared on this site in 1152.
- The city was named after the prince. But since there was already a settlement in the vicinity of Kiev, the second part of the name “Polish” was added, to denote the endless fields, lying near the city.
- The following films were shot in Yuriev Polsky: Golden Calf (1968), The Seventh Day (2005), Kirill Serebrennikov’s Yuriev Day (2008), Russian Chocolate (2010), Marriage by Will 2. The Return of Sandra” (2011), “Go on, Vasya!” (2017), “Grail” (2018) .
- The population of the city is about 18.5 thousand people.
- The distance to the regional center of Vladimir is 69 km, to Suzdal – 62 km, to Alexandrov – 75 km.
Sights of Yuriev Polsky
The main sights of Yuriev Polsky are concentrated around the ancient ramparts on a small spot – it is a mystical St. George Cathedral with unique carved bas-reliefs and St. Michael the Archangel Monastery.
Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel and the Yuryev Polsky Museum
Web site: yp-muzeum.ru Address: Yuriev Polsky, st. 1 May, 4. Opening hours: from 9.00 to 17.00, on Monday until 14.30, closed on Tuesday and the last Friday of the month.
Museum in Yuryev Polsky was opened on November 7, 1920 as a local history museum in the central part of the city, in the ancient ramparts of the XII century, in the former male monastery of St. Michael the Archangel, founded in the XIII century.
The extant buildings are dated to the XVII-XVIII centuries, and the western wall of the building – to 1555.
One of the most famous buildings on the territory of the former monastery is considered to be a tent-like bell tower, built in 1683.
Michael the Archangel Cathedral
Today, 16 thousand antiquities and works of art are distributed among several exhibitions of the museum. Among them are items of aristocrats, porcelain, and wooden sculptures. The main exhibition is devoted to the war against Napoleon Bonaparte and the Patriotic War of 1812. The following exhibitions are open: “Bagration – National Hero of Russia”, “Art Exhibition”, “Bell Tower. Viewpoint”, “History of the manufactory of Yuriev Polsky district” and others.
St. George’s Cathedral
St. George’s Cathedral is one of the oldest temples in Russia and one of the few preserved temples of pre-Mongol Russia. Its history goes back to the 12th century with a small church built by the founder of the town, Yury Dolgoruky, on the site of the ruined church in 1230-1234 a new cathedral was built by the princely decree of Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich, the grandson of Yury Dolgoruky. It was noted for its luxurious stone carving, white walls and a huge black dome. Its appearance was reminiscent of the famous temple of the Intercession on Nerl.
In 1460 the temple collapsed, and the Moscow architect Yermolin was entrusted with its restoration. During the restoration the proportions of the building were disrupted, some of the reliefs were lost, and some part was messed up. In the XVIII-XIX centuries, various annexes were built to the church: a bell tower, a sacristy, a chapel. In the XX century they were demolished.
To this day St. George’s Cathedral holds ancient relics, values and artistic paintings. One of its main relics is considered to be Svyatoslav’s Cross, a princely crucifix made of stone, made in gratitude for salvation in a military campaign, with an inscription on it about the cross made by Prince Svyatoslav.
Peter and Paul Monastery
The exact time of the foundation of the Peter and Paul Convent is unknown, it appeared in the northern part of the city approximately in XVI-XVII centuries. In the XIX century in the monastery built a stone St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, and a little later the Church of the Assumption, which has a high five-tiered bell tower.
After 1917 Peter and Paul monastery was closed, and the buildings were destroyed. Of all the former grandeur only five tiers of the bell tower have survived. Today the nunnery is being revived.
Church of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Address: Yuriev Polsky, Naberezhnaya Street.
Church of the Intercession was built in 1712 by monk Cyril from St. Michael the Archangel monastery. Not far from the Church of the Intercession the monk also built a small number of wooden cells. But the monastery did not exist for long, and soon the church was turned into a parish church. In 1768 it completely burned down due to the fault of ministers, although local residents managed to save the icons and utensils from the building. In just a year, the townspeople collected and funds and built a new Pokrovsky church, which stands in Yuriev Polsky to this day.
Church of Nikita Martyr
The church of Nikita Martyr was built in 1796 in the classicist style next to the Church of the Intercession. On three sides the entrances to the church are decorated by magnificent porticoes with columns. The church is known for its tall drums with rows of narrow and high windows.
In 1941 it was closed, and the building housed a bus station and a repair shop. In 1988 it was opened and re-consecrated. Today the church is a functioning Orthodox church in Yuriev Polsky.
Trading Malls and Gostiny Dvor
From the north side to the ancient earth ramparts of Yuriev-Pokrovsky many centuries ago adjoined a shopping area, which is now called “Sovetskaya”. It is adjoined by stone buildings of Trading Rows and two-storeyed Gostiny Dvor, built in 1873-1877. They replaced the burnt-out wooden buildings of the Gostiny Dvor. The difference of Yuryev Polsky Trade Rows from the rows in Suzdal, Vladimir and Kostroma is the absence of an inner courtyard.
In the 19th century, local merchants: merchants and manufacturers were the customers of the Gostiny Dvor. Here they organized premises for trade and storage of their goods. In the last century, the buildings housed shops, pubs, an inn and warehouses. Now most of the stores are empty, and many of the sheds have gone into ruin.
In the XIX century in the city appeared the shop building, which belonged to the merchant Khlebnikov. To this day, this landmark of Yuriev Polsky houses stores where locals can buy goods for home and everyday life, and the building is a cultural heritage site of local importance.
The Meshcherin family’s orphanage
In 1904 the building of the almshouse was built by G. I. Meshcherin, hereditary honorary citizen of the city. It was planned to house up to 160 people for men and women of petty bourgeoisie and merchant class.
At the moment, the building is a cultural heritage site, and is located in Yuriev Polsky central district hospital.
Monument of the 850th anniversary of the city
Having appeared in 1152 Yuriev Polsky, celebrated its 850th anniversary in 2002. To commemorate this date a memorial bow cross was erected near the walls of St. Michael the Archangel Monastery.
Monument to Jury Dolgoruky
Address: Yuriev Polsky, Vladimirskaya street.
In 2002 for the 850th anniversary of Yuriev Polsky in the central part of the city on the square near the ramparts was established a monument to Jury Dolgorukiy. The author of the work was the sculptor Igor Chernoglazov.
Monument to the landmark of Yuriev Polsky is made of dark granite. The stone carved figure of the prince stands in full growth, and his eyes are directed into the distance. Around the pedestal with Yuri Dolgoruky sit his defenders – lions. They are located on both sides of the architectural complex.
Newlyweds Park in Yuriev Polsky
In 2010, a park of newlyweds appeared in the city, laid out in honor of St. Peter and Fevronia, the patrons of family and marriage. The features of the park are two large rings with the inscription “Advice and love”, through which the newlyweds are invited to pass to seal their fates.
Also located here are:
- A bench for two to talk about their love or ask for forgiveness.
- The glade of the brides, decorated in the form of a flower-bed of a heart. On it the bride and her girlfriends are photographed.
- A “kissing bridge” for the young family. Some people attach locks to the bridge for the marriage to be long-lasting.
The suburbs of Yuriev Polsky
The sights of Yuriev Polsky do not end within the city limits. There are several other historical places situated not far from it.
The lost city of Mstislavl
Address: Vladimir region, Yuriev Polsky district, Gorodishche village
11 kilometers north of Yuriev Polsky, on the right bank of the river Gza, lie the ruins of an oval mound of 19 thousand square meters. They belong to the destroyed Old Russian town Mstislavl, which existed about X to XIV centuries. It is a ring and an earthen wall, surrounded by 5-meter ditches.
It is assumed that in Mstislavl there were one-row log walls, which reached 3 meters in height to bogorol, and together with bogorol – up to 5 meters. The fortress was entered from the north side.
The record in the chronicle, made in 1135, is the first mention of the settlement. During the Golden Horde and the Mongol-Tatar yoke, in the 13th century, the settlement was ruined. The city was finally wiped off the face of the earth during the Soviet regime, when the Church of the Nativity of Christ in Mstislavl was destroyed. Now the only building you can see here is a ramshackle four-tiered bell tower, towering over the meadows.
Address: Vladimir region, Yuriev Polsky district, Sima village, Pervomayskaya street.
Small village Sima was given to General Mikhail Golitsyn as a gift from Emperor Peter I for his war merits. The general ordered to build a house with wings, lay out a park and dig a pond.
In 1812 the great military leader Pyotr Bagration, a relative of the Golitsyns, spent his last days here. After being badly wounded during the Battle of Borodino, Bagration came to Sima, where he died. His body was buried near the village church of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki. Later his remains were reburied.
After 1917 the Golitsyns’ manor of the nobility was turned into an orphanage. Today there is a library, a local House of Culture, and a museum named after Peter Bagration.
Address: Vladimir region, Yuriev Polsky district, Ratislovo village
Once rich manor Apraksinyh in the village Ratislovo, built in the 18th century, is partially preserved. Before the revolution, there was a three-storey mansion with two outhouses for servants, and a church of Kazan. For the noble family was ennobled a large park, on the territory of which there were 8 large ponds.
Of all the buildings have survived only the house, which has lost its beauty and grandeur, and its luxurious interiors are irrevocably lost. Now it housed a correctional boarding school. The ponds and alleys have been preserved, and the Kazan church was rebuilt in 2012.
Yuryev Polsky is a small old town in the Vladimir region, through which routes of the Golden Ring of Russia pass. It stands apart from major tourist centers, on the banks of the Koloksha River. Yuriev Polsky is different from other Old Russian towns because it has no natural fortifications. There are no impassable forests, swamps or large hills around it, and Koloksha has low banks.
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Video: Yuriev Polsky
The city of Yuryev Polsky appeared in 1152, only 5 years later than Moscow, at the crossroads of the trade routes that connected Vladimir, Rostov the Great, Pereslavl-Zalessky and Suzdal. It grew rapidly, but with the rise of Moscow its position changed. Yuriev Polsky ceased to play a significant role and turned into a small out-of-town town.
Nowadays, Yuriev Polsky is quite popular with lovers of the Russian province. Most travelers come here to see one of the best monuments of pre-Mongolian architecture – the majestic St. George’s Cathedral. Built in the XIII century the temple is almost entirely covered with white-stone lace. Tourists try to make out the carved image of an elephant on it. It is believed that the one who finds the figure of an elephant will be accompanied by good luck.
In addition to the ancient cathedral, in the city there is St. Michael’s Monastery, several old temples and civilian buildings of the XIX century. On the territory of the monastery there is a large museum devoted to the history of the Vladimir region and the Russian art of the XVI-XIX centuries.
Yuriev Polsky has a population of about 19 thousand people. It has a simple, rectangular layout, it is not large, and it is convenient to move around on foot. Of the public transport on the streets, only marshrutkas run the streets. The center of the city is considered Sovetskaya Square. There are many small stores and cafes and snack bars there. Outside the square are the Market Rows and St. Michael and Archangel monastery, and behind it rises the famous St. George’s Cathedral.
As souvenirs from Yuriev Polsky take black-clothed pottery, products with views of ancient temples and birch bark charters. You can buy the things you like in the Trading and souvenir shops around Sovetskaya Square.
1st of May street. Market Rows
History of Yuriev Polsky.
Since ancient times, the inhabitants of Vladimir Opolye were engaged in agriculture. The fertile lands in the valley of Koloksha allowed them to grow grain and graze livestock. According to one of the versions, active farming and large pastures caused the appearance of vast forest-steppes here.
In 1152 by the will of Prince Yury Dolgoruky of Moscow a fortress was founded on the crossroads of trade. It was named after Prince Yuri and the place was on a field, though at first the city was called “Gurgev” or “Gergev”. Yuriev Polsky grew rapidly and by the beginning of the XIII century became the center of a small principality.
In 1238 Russia was attacked by Mongol armies and the town was badly devastated. Warlike nomads more than once more raided and devastated Russian lands. Great damage to the city was caused by the invasions of the khans Tokhtamysh (1382) and Yedigei (1408). In XIV century Moscow was chosen as the capital of the princely lands, and the role of Yuriev-Polskiy diminished considerably. For a long time it did not develop, and became a quiet county town.
In 1968, the city streets were filmed one of the episodes of the movie “Golden Calf” – a film version of the novel of the same name by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov. Old pre-revolutionary buildings and shopping malls served as the setting for the Arbatov city the writers invented. After a while, “Golden Calf” became one of the tourist brands of Yuriev Polsky, and today this name is a popular tourist cafe.
A monument to the founder of the city, Yuri Dolgoruky
St. George’s Cathedral
On May 1 Street, 100 meters from the city center is St. George Cathedral. The first temple in this place was founded during the reign of Prince Yuri Dolgoruky. It lasted only half a century, and, according to chronicles, was destroyed during a major earthquake. When this happened, Prince Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich ordered to take apart the stone ruins and build a new cathedral.
The St. George’s Cathedral was erected in 1234. It was notable for the rich white stone carving. Its walls were covered with the images of animals, birds and Christian saints. Together with ornaments they formed pictures, connected with a general plot.
By the mid-15th century St. George’s Cathedral had become dilapidated and partially collapsed. Grand Duke Ivan III of Moscow, learning about this, ordered the immediate restoration of the shrine. The famous Moscow architect Yermolin undertook the restoration of the temple. There were no stone quarries near Yuriev Polsky, so the builders had to build the collapsed walls of old stones. The temple was lower, but much more solid. The border between new and old masonry is clearly visible today. Stones put in XV century go diagonally from top to bottom, from the northwest corner of the building.
In the 17th century, a hipped bell tower was erected near the cathedral. Then it was replaced by a four-tiered bell tower. And in the XIX century near the cathedral appeared a warm Church of the Exaltation of the Cross. Later there were several restorations of St. George’s Cathedral, during which the bell tower and late church additions were dismantled.
The single-domed cathedral has a cubic quadrangle and three semicircular apses. A massive dome with a cross rests on a squat light drum. The northern portal is the best preserved of the others and looks magnificent. Earlier it faced the main square of Yuriev Polsky.
On the walls of the cathedral it is possible to see images of Christ, George the Victorious, saint warriors – patrons of the Vladimir princes, lions, a centaur, peacocks and intricate vegetative ornaments. Most of the carved white stone bas-reliefs form a single plot, but some are arranged separately. This discrepancy appeared after the restoration works of the 15th century. Medieval builders used stones from a collapsed building and some of them were placed in an arbitrary order.
The carved elephant is to be found on the northern facade. It is above a column topped with a woman’s head. To see the elephant it’s advisable to stand back from the cathedral so that it isn’t obscured by the lower bas-reliefs.
Where did the image of the elephant in Yuriev Polsky come from? Carvers who worked in ancient Russia could see it only on the pages of manuscripts. If you look more closely, the St. George’s Cathedral depicts not an elephant, but a mythological animal. Its trunk and tusks are elephantine, its ears are hare’s, and its limbs are bird’s.
Nowadays, services in the temple are seldom held. The rest of the time it is open to tourists as a museum. Inside, samples of ancient Russian white stone carvings are on display. There is also a “Svyatoslav’s Cross”, which was made by order of the ancestor of Yuryev princes, Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich (1196-1252).
The Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel
To the north of St. George’s Cathedral, closer to the center of Yuriev Polsky, stretches the territory of the male monastery. The buildings of St. Michael the Archangel Monastery are situated in the ring of powerful earth ramparts and fortress walls, so they externally resemble a Kremlin. The monastery was founded in the XIII century by the son of Vsevolod the Big Nest, Prince Svyatoslav. Originally its churches and cells were wooden, and when Mongol armies attacked Russia, they easily burned the monastery.
Yuriev Polsky experienced more than one invasion by the hordes, so for about two centuries the monastery did not even try to be restored. Changes came only in the 16th century, when instead of a wooden palisade they built a stone wall and towers. The first stone temple appeared there in 1560. It was built for the money of Prince Ivan Mikhailovich Kubensky. We don’t know what this church looked like, because it hasn’t survived.
Michael the Archangel monastery was considered to be rich. She received a lot of gifts from Prince Dmitry Mikhailovich Pozharsky, whose fiefdom was located near Yuriev Polsky, in the village of Bolsheluluchinskoye.
Today the monastery is a beautiful architectural ensemble, consisting of buildings of XVII-XVIII centuries. It has a small but very well-maintained territory, which hosts expositions of local history and art museum. At the same time, a monastic community lives here, and regular church services are held in the temples. Near the monastery there is a monument to the founder of Yuriev Polsky – Prince Yuri Dolgoruky.
The central place in the monastery is occupied by the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel. The five-domed church was built at the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries on the money collected by the inhabitants of Yuriev Polsky. The cathedral is richly decorated with rustication, cornices and carved friezes. An icon of the Archangel Michael, which, together with the soldiers of the 5th Vladimir volunteer corps regiment, walked the roads of the Patriotic War of 1812-1814, is kept here.
To the northwest of the cathedral rises a beautiful tiered bell tower of the XVIII century. The slender octahedral building is decorated on all sides with carved ornaments, and there are three rows of “dormers” on top of the tent.
To the south of the cathedral stands the Church of the Sign, which appeared in 1625. The low one-domed church has a spacious refectory. Its first floor is used for the household purposes, and the covered passages lead to the archimandrite and brotherhood buildings.
The monastery territory is bounded from the west by a section of the fortress wall with towers. These fortifications were built in the middle of the 16th century. St. John the Theologian church built in 1670 rises above the gate leading to the monastery. The five-domed church has a wide eaves and its architecture resembles that of the Cathedral of Archangel Michael.
Near the bell tower you can see a small chapel and the Church of St. George the Victorious, brought here from the village of Egorius. They were built in the early 18th century for the St. George Monastery and were moved to Yuriev Polsky in 1968. The chapel and the church are fine examples of Russian wooden architecture. They are very beautiful and organically fit into the architectural ensemble of the monastery.
Museums of Yuriev Polsky
Museum expositions occupy the buildings of St. Michael the Archangel Monastery, on May 1, 4. The main section of the museum is devoted to the history of the peasantry and agriculture in the Vladimir valley. Collected here objects allow you to get acquainted with the customs and traditions of the inhabitants of Yuriev Polsky, starting from ancient times. In the showcases you can see the jewelry found by archaeologists, chain mail, a fragment of a mica window and petrified rye from the 11th century. In the halls you can see a collection of barn locks, a Russian stove and interiors of peasant dwellings.
One of the museum’s sections tells about the life of the Russian commander Pyotr Bagration. Its central place is occupied by the carriage in which Bagration, seriously wounded after the Battle of Borodino, was brought to the village of Sima near Yurievo-Polskoye. Here he died and was buried in the family vault of Princes Golitsyn.
In the arch under the passage that connects the Znamensky church and the archimandrite building there is an exhibition of carved casings. Beautiful wooden cases were brought to the museum from the villages and hamlets near Yuriev Polsky. Skilful products of local craftsmen hang also on the walls of the church and brotherhood building.
On the second floor of the archimandrite building there is an exposition introducing visitors to the history of weaving manufacture in Yuriev Polsky. Here you can see beautiful tiled stoves, spindles, spinners, samples of printed fabrics and sewing machines. And the interiors are decorated with modern tapestries made by the masters of the “Avangard” weaving factory.
One of the museum exhibits is located in the high hipped bell tower. On the first floor of the building is a monastic cell. On the second floor there is an exposition devoted to bell-ringing, and even higher there is an excellent observation deck. Tourists climb it to admire the monastery and the central streets of Yuryev Polsky. At the entrance of the bell tower has a small door, the height of which is only 2/3 of the average height of a person. Only small children can pass through it without bending down.
If you go up to the second floor of John the Evangelist church, you can see an art exhibition. There are icons from the 16th-19th centuries, paintings by the Forward-Builders and a collection of old porcelain. Most of the porcelain came to the museum from the Golitsyns’ family estate. The most interesting exhibits are the original floor vases.
The museum is open for visitors every day except Tuesday. On Mondays it is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on other days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Keep in mind that the box office closes one hour earlier.
Not far from the monastery there is a temple complex, which consists of two churches – Pokrovskaya and Nikitskaya. The first was built in 1769, and the second – in 1799. The snow-white five-domed Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God is adjoined by a four-tiered bell tower – the highest building in Yuriev Polsky. Through it the faithful get inside the Church of the Intercession.
One-domed Nikitskaya church is small in size. It was erected in the traditions of classicism and is decorated on four sides with triangular pediments and snow-white columns. The walls of the church are painted in contrasting colors of brick and white. The temple complex is surrounded by a beautiful forged fence and looks very harmoniously.
In Avangardny Lane, 6, there is a snow-white Church of the Nativity. It was built in the XVIII century on the site of a dilapidated wooden church. The cold church is notable for its six domes. In the 1930s, it, like most churches of Yuriev Polsky, was closed, and the premises were used for printing machines and equipment of the dairy. Then the church was restored, and now it is active.
Where to stay
Most travelers come to Yuriev Polsky on day trips. But those who want to stay here longer, can stay in one of the city hotels. All of them are located in the city center and provide approximately the same set of services.
The hotel at Promsvyaz plant accommodates not only business travelers (Zavodskaya St., 1A). On weekends a lot of tourists stay here. There is no cafe or dining room, but there are microwave oven, kettle, stove and dishes for cooking.
There is a small hotel “Pokrovskaya” in Vladimirskaya street, 22. Breakfasts are included, and suites have separate kitchenettes with microwaves, crockery and kettles.
The hotel “Yurievskaya” stands on Sovetskaya Square. Its guests not only get rooms, but also breakfasts. It is convenient that a popular cafe “Golden Calf” is located right next to the hotel.
Mini-hotel “Zhemchuzhina” is probably the most inexpensive in Yuriev Polsky. It offers travelers four neat rooms. The hotel is located on Shibankova Street, 72, just a 5-minute walk from the city center.
How to get there
Yuryev Polsky is located in the northwest of the Vladimir region, 180 km from Moscow. The nearest international airport is in Ivanovo. The road from Moscow to Yuriev Polsky takes about 3 hours by car and goes through Kirzhach and Kolchugino along the A-105 highway.
The railway station is located 1.5 km to the south of the city center. A branch from Aleksandrov to Ivanovo runs through it, on which several long-distance trains and two electric trains run daily. From Moscow to Yuryev Polsky for 4.15-4.50 hours you can reach by trains to Kineshma and Ivanovo.
Near the railway station there is a town bus station. Here come buses from Vladimir, Alexandrov, Pereslavl-Zalessky and Moscow. From the metropolitan bus station, which is located near the metro station “Schelkovskaya”, there are 3-4 buses to Yuriev Polsky every day. The road to the city takes 4 hours.