Pereslawl: Russian Provincial Town Off the Beaten Paths
Pereslawl Zalessky... this strange name sounds great for every Russian! No, this is definitely not a must-see town. Moreover, I'm sure that a lot of Russians have ever visited it. But I'm sure, everyone wants! This name sounds like a dozen of church bells. It beckons you again and again.
So once in the late early spring, we finally put aside our doubts and "very important" businesses to drive our cute Soviet Van straight there.
Have we liked it? Shortly, yes!
Hidden Jem of the Golden Ring of Russia
Being the part of the famous Golden Ring, this Russian provincial town is rarely visited by foreign guests. Why? It's easy to answer! If you want to have a look, it's much easier to visit Sergiev Posad. If you want a deep inside, just take an amazing tour to Vladimir and Suzdal.
Who goes to Pereslavl? People, who want to see the Golden Ring like it is seeing by Russians! Pereslawl has everything that Suzdal has, except for the tourists! It's not popular among foreigners, so it's much easier to see the real Russia in Pereslawl. Real Russia that is not adapted for foreigners!
Pereslawl-Zalessky is a Russian provincial town located only 150 km from Moscow center. It takes 2-3 hours to get there by a car driving Yaroslavsky highway to the north-east.
It's not easy to get there by public transport. You should take a train and a bus. Too long...
Our Journey to Pereslawl Zalessky: Typical Russian Provincial Town
We've been driving there for 2 or 3 hours. I like this kind of road tripping. I've never thought that I lose time. What an amazing way to meditate about your life seeing the typical countryside landscapes with faded fields and some weird building of the typical Moscow suburb.
When we drive inside the Pereslavl, we ever hadn't noticed it. All small Russian towns are similar in some way... They have the main road (usually, Lenina street) with a large square in the very center with some churches, strange Soviet common buildings, bus stations and 5-blockhouses.
We stopped at the cafe to have dinner and seat a little bit more :)
Then we climbed to the ancient hill-fort located at the edge of the city. Faded grass and small hill... hard to believe, that thousand years ago first Russian settled here and survived long cold winter one by one. Maybe they were looking for a place where no one will touch them?
Now we used to winter... is the real places without snow for 6 months? No, please, don't tell me about them! Too hard to listen :)
Pereslawl is located in the bank of Plescheevo lake... this lake is quite famous! Petr the Great, famous Russian imperator built his first "toy" armada at this lake. There's also very rare fish that lives in the lake. You can try her in one of the best fish restaurants in Pereslawl.
There's a nice wooden road that goes to the lake covered by snow... it was dazzling! We gently touched the ice... it was hard enough to walk! Kmmmmmmmm, should I tell you what we've done next? :)
It was all about happiness and catching the moment! You know, being traveler for a long time, I found that hidden gems giving you the most memorable experience may appear in sudden places.... It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door (C). But I found at least one ingredient for the best experience... It's obvious, people! You should have fun sharing the great experience with these exact people.
Do you know that Russia has about 1000 monasteries? Impressive, isn't it? However, only 30 years ago there were about 20 monasteries! USSR official ideology was the elimination of the existing religion. Religion is the opium of the people... After USSR collapse followed by dark times of 1990s, people returned to the Church. Looking at the white-stoned beauty rising up to the sky from the tough daily routine of the countryside life, I understand why... Life is not easy, but it's not in vain if we believe. Isn't it?
What has happened? We just walked inside the monastery gates, when a monk called us asking if we want to ring the bells from the tower. Wow!!! Really?! I've never tried it. Then we remembered that it was not just a day. It was Easter! The week before the Easter everyone can go up any church to ring the bells. Should I say that was overwhelming?
Visiting old monastery building, I was wondered how obvious is the difference between famous Sergiev Posad and Pereslawl-Zalessky, a small Russian town. Both towns are located nearby from each other. Segiev Posad is rich and bustling. It combines expensive cars of successful priests with tired eyes of travelers looking for a last hope waiting for an audience of saintly old man. It's not the cradle of Russian Orthodox. It's the capital of it.
Pereslawl-Zalessky has even more monasteries and churches... they are not so pretentious, however. They are beautiful outside with its golden domes and white stones. However, inside you may notice paints peeling off the walls and wracked stairways. I'm not sure that many monks or priests have their own cars. They appreciate the charity and repair interior by themselves. Only 100 km of distance divides these two worlds of Russian Orthodox.
Old vs. New
Which church do you like more? They were built with the 1000 years difference. Being honest, we preferred the new one. It was impressive with many golden domes on the blue sky!
Maybe we had to read some intriguing ancient story before? :)
Then we drove a narrow dirt road to get to the lake shore. There were millions of boats and typical Russian wooden houses. The lake was spectacular despite the early spring. We enjoyed the sun and walked along the lake.
It was almost the sunset time when we reached another impressive monastery. Its walls seemed red in the last sunlight. Several crows were spinning around black domes...
Pereslawl-Zalessky Travel Guide
Pereslavl-Zalessky, as well as other cities that are part of the Golden Ring, is especially attractive for its religious attractions. Churches, cathedrals and monasteries are simply not to be considered here, one is more beautiful than the other.
There is an opinion that the first temples on Plescheev Lake appeared at the very beginning of the 11th century, and perhaps one of them became the basis of the future Nikitsky monastery. The monastery has a rich history - the monastery served as an oprichnoy fortress, withstood the siege of the Poles, was burned by the Lithuanians and restored with the participation of the Romanov family. The source of Pereslavsky, the wonderworker of Nikita the Stylite, a saint with a gift of healing, is located very close to him. They say that a source in the 12th century, the Stylite dug with his own hands. And for many centuries, believers are drawn to the shrine for help in treating the most serious diseases.
The pearl of Pereslavl-Zalessky is the Transfiguration Cathedral built in the early 12th century. This is the earliest of the white-stone architectural monuments of North-Eastern Russia. The decor of the temple is very strict, but its value is not in the decoration. A unique story makes it attractive - Alexander Nevsky was baptized here many centuries ago, hence the famous Transfiguration icon. And the walls of the cathedral keep the memory of numerous frescoes and graffiti, among which is a unique message about the murder of Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky.
The white-stone cathedral is small in size, it was built for a small number of worshipers: the prince’s confidants, warriors, and the city nobility. The territory enclosed by ramparts was rather large compared to many ancient cities, and besides the Savior Cathedral, there were many other temples for ordinary people. The cathedral was not set in the center of the city, but near the ramparts. Here, at the northern wall, wooden princely chambers were located, from which he proceeded directly to the choir of the cathedral. In essence, it was a palace princely temple; he received the name of the cathedral because the services were held by the highest hierarchs of the Church.
The walls of the church outside are simple, devoid of any decor, with the exception of fragments of extant friezes on the apses.The severe, unvarnished, view of the cathedral, its high narrow window-loopholes, powerful walls and the entire strict silhouette convey the spirit of the times when it was built ...
In Pereslavl-Zalessky is one of the most ancient monasteries of Russia - Goritsky Assumption. It was founded probably in the 14th century and was abolished in 18. After the revolution in 1919, the Pereslavl-Zalessky State Historical-Architectural and Art Museum-Reserve was transferred to the monastery. From the observation deck of the bell tower of the Epiphany Church can see the whole city.
The Goritsky Monastery in Pereslavl Zalessky is perhaps the most visited museum of the city - this is where the main exhibition of the Pereslavl Museum-Reserve is located.Despite the church name, the monastery in these walls is no longer 280 years.Founded at the beginning of the 14th century under Ivan Kalita, the Goritsky Assumption Monastery in Pereslavl-Zalessky was abolished in 1744.Surprisingly, of the five remaining monasteries of the city, only the Goritsky monastery has not yet been handed over to the church - for almost 100 years the museum has been housed there.
The Church of Peter the Metropolitan is one of the most beautiful in ancient Pereslavl-Zalessky. Art critics refer it to the last monuments of ancient Russian architecture, which completed the “classical” period.It was built in memory of a man who sought to reconcile the fragmented Russian principalities and strengthen the unified Russian state.
The Pereslav church of Peter the Metropolitan is unusual in its form. The faceted tent of the church is put on several rows of kokoshniki. The current bell tower with a high spire was built in the XIX century on the site of the old belfry. The interior of the church dates back to the 19th century, and the older doors to the upper church are preserved.
Some researchers associated the construction of the stone church of Peter the Metropolitan with the last years of Ivan the Terrible, who considered Peter the Metropolitan to be his patron. Also, Grozny wanted in this way to perpetuate the memory of his murdered son, Tsarevich Ivan.
The hip roof was attached to the temple not by chance. In Russia, most of the temple-monuments were tent-shaped: they contained a small number of worshipers, they were tall and prominent from afar.
The cellars of the temple were used to store ammunition and gunpowder of the Pereslavl military garrison and as a prison for “sovereign” criminals who fell into disgrace.Later, the Pereslavl Provincial Office placed its treasury in these basements.
The Pokrovskaya Church is considered to be an excellent monument to the Moscow Baroque in Pereslavl. Built at the end of the 18th century, the church retained many of the architectural details of the Baroque style, popular in the mid-18th century. It is generally considered perhaps the best surviving monument of Moscow Baroque in Pereslavl.
On the walls of her preserved impressive paintings on biblical scenes. The parish church was perhaps the only one in all of Pereslavl that retained its original layout and interior decoration, since it was not closed during the Soviet era, services continued to go there.
The Church of the Intercession was located at that time on a lively Market Square, where trade shops, warehouses, and pubs were concentrated. On market days it was especially noisy and crowded here - trade in Pereslavl went well. Now the temple of the Intercession stands on the side of a busy main street, surrounded by tall trees and small houses.
During the times of anti-religious propaganda, some churches completely lost their decoration. For example, The Vladimir Cathedral turned into a House of Athletes, and then into a bakery and garage. The building of the church of Alexander Nevsky was used as a library, later a bread shop was arranged at the altar. Temples were returned to believers in 1990.
In the city, in addition to shrines, many other attractions. One of the main ornaments of Pereslavl is Lake Pleshcheyevo, which has a glacial origin. The lake is about 30 thousand years old, it largely determined the development of the city as a famous tourist center. At the end of the 17th century, a Russian navy was born on the pond under the leadership of Peter I.
On the shore of the ancient lake is the famous Blue Stone. It is believed that a boulder weighing about 12 tons has healing properties and fulfills desires. The stone, scientists believe, was deified more than 2 thousand years ago by the first settlers.
In the city, or rather above it, the amazingly beautiful festival of balloons “Golden Ring of Russia” regularly takes place. In addition, anyone can take off at a balloon at any time - this service is provided year-round by the Aeronautical Federation of the Yaroslavl Region.
We make a very special tour on 14 July to visit the Festival. Please, contact us if you are interested