Suzdal is a true highlight of the Golden Ring. It is one of Russia's oldest cities and dates back to 1024. Prince Yury Dolgoruki made it his regional capital in the 12th century, and it became a fortress whose Kremlin protected the Russian border. Today, Suzdal Kremlin forms the historic heart of the city and encompasses its oldest buildings.
When the Muscovite tsars came to power in the 16th century, Suzdal traded its political status to become the religious center. Its religious architectural heritage is extraordinary, with more than thirty churches and five monasteries each uniquely constructed and decorated. One of the most impressive religious buildings is the Intercession Convent, the renown place where many noble women were sent into exile, including Ivan the Terrible's mother and the first wife of Peter the Great.
Another beautiful place in Suzdal is the Cathedral of Nativity of the Virgin. Although the Cathedral's main walls date to the 16th century, the carved white stones at the base originated in the days before the Mongol-Tatar invasion of the 12th century. The cathedral's five blue domes are dotted with glittering golden stars while its doors hold beautiful scenes from the New Testament. Inside wait breathtaking 13th century frescos.
Another place not to miss is the Suzdal Museum of Wooden Art where the best wooden crafts from all over Russia are displayed.
Suzdal is a small town by itself, but every inch of it is unique and vibrant. The abundance of wooden architecture creates an entrancing atmosphere of rural calmness and serenity, while Suzdal's host of old domed churches, bell-towers, and monasteries testifies to its status as a spiritual center. The city's charm is so great that it was left untouched by the Soviet industrialization which destroyed so much of Russia's heritage. It is no wonder artists come by the score to sit in its quiet lanes and absorb inspiration.