In a few years Suzdal will celebrate its millennial anniversary. It was formed from various settlements of traders, craftsmen, and farmers. At Precisely those times Christianity was spreading in Russia, and the spiritual center of Russia began to form in Suzdal. There is no Patriarch’s Residency, but a variety of churches and cathedrals attests to the unofficial status of the Orthodox Capital of Russia.
Suzdal is a very small city. You will not see blocks of high-rises, shopping malls with shining storefronts, industrial plants, nor heavy street traffic. Tiny houses, wooden buildings, and numerous onion domes will make you feel like you are in a different era. Once you have escaped from the concrete jungle, you will feel a different rhythm of life here, which is calm and tranquil. In essence, Suzdal is an open air museum. During course of an individual or group tour an experienced guide will tell you that in Suzdal four ancient monuments are inscribed on the UN World Heritage List, with the Suzdal Kremlin being one of them. It was built in the 10th century and since then has been through periods of blossoming, downfall and renaissance. It has survived numerous barbaric invasions. Today the Suzdal Kremlin has a few buildings, including the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin, a snow-white building with blue onion domes and beautiful frescoes inside.
Among other cathedrals and churches, the Convent of the Patronage of the Mother of God stands out, which harbored disgraced tsarinas, the Spaso-Efimov Monastery, and the Church of the Beheading of John the Baptist.
After visiting the churches one should walk around Suzdal’s shopping malls, converted into an arcade early in the 19th century. It was the first city building designed according to the style of the Empire. The shopping malls are also called Gostiny Dvor. Precisely in this place all the business and public life of the city takes place. There are a few gift shops in the building, and some cafes and restaurants. During holidays joyful fairs are held here.
Shurovo Gorodishe is another interesting place we recommend visiting. It is an interactive museum, where visitors can put on real bogatyr’s (warrior’s) armor and shoot a bow.
The Museum of the Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life will tell you about the life of Russian peasants. You will see the log hut of a middle-class peasant and the house of a wealthy one. The museum has other household farm buildings on its territory: a barn, a drying-house, a well, a banya (a steam sauna), and a toolshed.Besides regular holidays, like Easter, Christmas or Maslenitsa, Suzdal has some unique city holidays. One of them is the Russian Fairy Tale Festival. It is held at the end of Winter and features children’s shows, games, and contests. Young spectators will attend a colorful carnival or take part in fairy tale film making. Late in July Suzdal celebrates the Kupala holiday. Music does not stop all week long as ethnographic bands perform, traditional songs are sung, and open air discoes take place. The holiday is not complete without the ritual bathing.
In July you can attend a Middle Ages Festival: Suzdal of the Time of Yore. It is a unique chance to try dishes from the middle ages, listen to bands, and watch a knights’ tournament.
Another unusual event in mid-summer is the Bast Shoe Festival. Everyone plays football in bast shoes or competes in running. Bast shoe workshops and handicraft markets are open.
Efrosinyevskay Fair opens in mid-autumn, and farmers of the Suzdal District sell their fruits and vegetables. The most delicious and ecological meat products make this fair popular year after year. Tourists are not the only customers; large supermarkets and metropolitan restaurateurs go shopping here as well.
Those who wish to stay in Suzdal for a couple of days will not have any problem choosing a hotel. Suzdal has an excellent infrastructure for tourists; over 30 hotels of different categories are available. You will not have difficulties with restaurants either. Next to the most visited attractions there is always a place to eat good food. The menu of most restaurants offers recreated ancient Russian dishes and the famous Sudal medovukha.
Once you have explored Suzdal, set out on a trip around its outskirts, where you will find plenty of interesting things.
Not far from the city in Kideksha village is the Church of Sts. Boris and Gleb, built in the 12th century by Yuri Dolgorukiy. Ancient frescoes from those times are still conserved.
In Sanino, a village near Suzdal, you can visit the St. Nicolas Convent. The locals know that inside the temple there true miracles happen, worshippers are healed, icons stream myrrh and frescoes renew themselves without the help of the craftsmen. Not far from here there is a holy well, where you can wash your face and drink some water.
Suzdal is a city-museum and a city of history. It is a place where time stands still. The breath of the past has touched you with its light breeze, wrapped around you, and made you stop, sink into reverie, remember your roots, feel the link to earth, and feel the greatness of your Motherland.