Historians argue about who founded Vladimir, and when. The city was founded in the year 990 by the Grand Duke Vladimir the Red Sun according to one version, but in 1108 by the order of the Grand Duke Vladimir Monomakh according to another. The second version is considered traditional and the city’s chronology is tied to that date.
A century later, the city became the center of Rostov-Suzdal principality, but after another two hundred years was completely looted and partially burned down by the Mongol invasions. It lost its status as a capital and turned into one of the provincial cities. During the Soviet era, Vladimir changed significantly. Some temples and churches were destroyed, new factories were built. Now the city is a regional center and an attractive place for tourists.
Visiting Vladimir you'll be amazed by its stark contrasts. Modern avenues with beautiful high-rise buildings in one area neighbor one-story wooden buildings in another. Architectural monuments are not only churches and cathedrals here, but also hospitals, shopping malls, and even banks.
One of the first stops in all tour itineraries is the Golden Gate. It is an old building from the twelfth century. Long ago, the city was surrounded by an extended bulwark, and 7 gates were used to enter the city. Only the Golden Gates have survived to the present day. They were used not only for defense against enemies, but also marked the entrance to the rich part of the city where the Dukes lived.
Another mandatory stop on the route for tourist groups is the Assumption Cathedral. It is situated high on the edge of the hill above the river. It is a magnificent building with richly painted walls inside. The cathedral contains tombs, where the remains of the bishops and representatives of the ducal house of Vladimir lie.
Among the oldest buildings in Vladimir is the Demetrius Cathedral, built in the twelfth century. Initially, this was the central structure of the architectural ensemble of the palace of the Duke Vsevolod the Big Nest, however, only the building of the cathedral has survived to the present day. The facades and interior walls of the cathedral are artistically painted by masters from the twelfth century. The complex scenes reproduce the legends of that time.
In contrast to the cathedrals and churches in Vladimir there is another interesting landmark, the Vladimir Central. It is a famous prison in Russia with an impressive history. It was built in the 18th century by the decree of Catherine II, and is still home to dangerous criminals serving their sentences. Those interested in the history of this institution can visit the prison’s museum and hear the story told by the guide.
Let us give some other interesting museums to visit in Vladimir: the Gingerbread Museum, the Fairy-Tale Museum “Babysya Yagusya”, and the Museum of Crystal and Lacquer Miniatures.
Vladimir is a large and modern city, you will be able to find a place to stay. Want a full immersion into the past? Go to the hotels located outside the city. It is there that the aura of the Russian days of yore is recreated.
Cafes and restaurants will delight visitors with varied menus. There are Japanese, European, Italian, and Caucasian cuisines. And, of course, there is a wide selection of dishes of Russian cuisine.
In the vicinity of Vladimir stand prominent nobles’ estates. For example, the Khrapovitsky estate is situated in the village of Muromtsevo. A huge stone structure adorned with turrets, reminiscent of a medieval castle, comes to life from the pages of a fairy tale. Besides the estate in Muromtsevo you can walk through the park, which can be characterized as royal by its size and beauty.
The house of the factory owner Dumnov in the village of Zarechie is a merchant’s estate from the 19th century and at the same time functions as a weaving museum. The museum is unique, because manual silk weaving is an ancient craft that was developed precisely in the Vladimirskaya Oblast, and is without equal in other regions. A collection of silk and velvet from the 19th century, and rare clothing made from these fabrics is on display for the visitors of the museum.
Vladimir regularly hosts a variety of holidays and festivals. For example, in mid-July Cherry Spas is celebrated, aimed at reviving the ancient rite of the cherry harvest. About four years ago Vladimir literally drowned in cherry orchards. During the blossoming period the city radiated a special charm, and was dominated by divine smells...At the festival you can taste cherries, buy gifts, tell fortunes from cherry pits, and do other things.
In the second half of August the city is transformed into a medieval village. The festival of medieval culture "Vladimir Blade" is held for three days in Vladimir. Tents, clothing and household items must be crafted according to 12th-16th century design. During the festival you can watch the knight battles, in which real professionals partake, the champions of Russia and the world!
Autumn in Vladimir is time for the Russian theatre forum "The Golden Gate". The citizens and guests of the city are invited to watch the best award winning performances of the last two years.
Tourists take souvenirs from Vladimir, gigabytes of photos, and a cherry disposition. It cannot be any different, since Vladimir is a bright and cheerful town, where one can feel the grandeur and glory of the old times.