The main masterpieces of ancient Russian architecture in Vladimir are the UNESCO world heritage sites.
Vladimir is situated on the Klyazma river. The place itself has a good location as it is naturally protected. That is why this city was founded here.
Long ago the Klyazma river was deep, and through the rivers Oka and Volga the city was linked with Europe and Asia. The town was in brisk trade.
But at present there is also another version of the city Foundation date; Vladimir was founded by Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavovich (the Holy, Great). It dates back to 990. In that time Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich christened the local people as well.
The city of Vladimir (in honor of Prince Vladimir Monomakh) was founded near the fortress.
After the death of Vladimir Monomakh (1113-1125), the Prince Yuri Dolgoruky (1154-1157) – the next ruler of the city – was strengthening the Rostov-Suzdal Principality. In the South he was fighting for Pereyaslavl and Kiev.
Yuri Dolgoruky founded many Russian cities and towns-fortresses, including Moscow, M oscow – as we know – is the capital of Russia.
Under Dolgoruky’s son, Andrey Bogolyubsky (1157–1175 in 1157 the city of Vladimir became the capital of the powerful Vladimir-Suzdal Principality).
The city of Vladimir was besieged by the Mongol-Tatar hordes in the XIII-XV centuries. In 1408, the Great Russian icon painter Andrei Rublev and Daniil Cherny came to the city from Moscow. They were invited by Donskoy’son, Vasily Dmitrievich to do repainting in Assumption Cathedral (or Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir). This one was a model for cathedrals all over Russia.
Fragments of these paintings, for example, the famous scene of the “LAST JUDGEMENT”, were kept almost intact.
About the XV-XVI centuries – after the rise of Moscow – Vladimir lost its importance – it became just a town in the Moscow state.
Landmarks of Vladimir
The architecture of Vladimir and Suzdal, is unique.
The Golden Gate
The Golden Gate of Vladimir, a tower over the city’s main Western gate, was built in 1158–1164, during the reign of Andrei Bogolyubsky. The Golden Gates existed in the cities of Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Kiev. The Golden Gate in Vladimir is the gate’s arch with the church topped by a golden dome. Nowdays inside the Golden Gate there is the museum dedicated to the history of Vladimir.
There is aninteresting legend that the brickwork of the arch collapsed during the construction of the gate, under the pile of rubble twelve persons were trapped. But everyone was alive.
In the old days the gate was approximately 1.5 meters higher than today because of soil mechanics.
The Golden Gate was built of white stone; its doors were covered with gilded sheets.
The Golden Gate of Vladimir
In the old days inside the Golden Gate there was a view point for the soldiers who were defending the fortress. (Unfortunately, it has not survived). From that position the soldiers were cracking at the enemy, or the defenders were throwing heavy rocks at attackers etc.
Assumption Cathedral (or Dormition Cathedral) in Vladimir
The cathedral was constructed in 1158-1160 to reflect the prestige of Vladimir. At that time the Cathedral was higher than the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. Originally its height was 32,3 meters.
However, in 1185-1189 years the Cathedral was rebuilt by order of Prince Vsevolod III (Vsevolod the Big Nest) and it was increased to show the power of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality.
The Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir was as a model for the assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin by the Italian architect Aristotle Fioravanti.
They say that a tenth part of all income of the Principality was taken to construct the Cathedral.
The Central dome of the Cathedral was covered with gold – that is why this dome got the name “Golden»”. Now all the domes of the Cathedral are glittered. At that time the white stone walls and gold – bronze domes of the Cathedral impressed everyone. People compared the Cathedral in Vladimir with Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple in ancient Jerusalem.
At present the Cathedral is also gorgeous.
Assumption Cathedral inVladimir
The Cathedral of Saint Demetrius
The Cathedral was constructed in 1193-1197 years during the reign of the Grand Prince Vsevolod the Big Nest to the honour of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki.
The Cathedral of Saint Demetrius
The Cathedral of St. Demetrius was a court temple. This is the only survived court cathedral in Russia.
The church is famous for its white-stone carvings – its walls are decked with 600 reliefs, depicting saints, mythical and real animals. Vladimir’s carvers managed to combine the Russian and foreign applied art. The Cathedral of Saint Demetrius is a real masterpiece indeed.
There are the famous figures of saints in the internal decoration of the Cathedral.
Out of the internal decoration a few fragments of frescoes of the 12th century have survived, particularly fragments of the Last Judgement composition.
The Arcature-Columnar Cathedral of St. Demetrius
On the Eastern edge of the Northern facade of the Cathedral there are the sculptures depicted the Prince Vsevolod the Big Nest with his sons.
It is interesting, that the Prince got this nickname because he had 12 children. You can even count the number of figures in the famous sculptural composition “Prince Vsevolod with his sons”.
In this Cathedral you can see “zakomara” (semi – circular upper part of outer walls in old Russian churches).
Some centuries later zakomaras almost disappeared from Russian architecture, because it is a very difficult construction.
Inside the Cathedral under the choirs fragments of the Last Judgement composition have survived.
Other sights of Vladimir (overview)
In Vladimir it is also worth seeing:
- Men’s Christmas monastery, founded in 1191 by Prince Vsevolod the Big Nest.
- Knyaginin Monastery, founded in the XIII century by Princess Maria Shvarnova, (She was a wife of Vsevolod the Big Nest).
- Trinity Churchr.
- Nikolo-Kremlevskaya Church.
- Nikitskaya Church and so on.
Hotels in Vladimir
As a rule, people visit Vladimir – Suzdal (Suzdal is located really not far from the city). If you decide to visit Vladimir, you can book a hotel here.
To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev