Founded in the 11th century by the prince of Kievan Rus Yaroslav the Wise, Yaroslavl is the oldest of all the Russian cities that exist along the Volga river today. Yaroslavl played an essential role in Russian history when it assisted the Moscow Tsars to unite the Russian lands around Moscow. Historian vary as to the exact date when the city was founded, placing it between the years 988 and 1024, but most researchers agree that the most reliable date is 1010 when the first fortress was built. Yaroslavl was the first Christian town to emerge on the Volga. In 1612 Yaroslavl served as the capital of Russia for several months, when the volunteer army lead by the national heros Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky to fight the Polish-Lithuanian intervention was stationed here. In the 20th century, the Soviet government made Yaroslavl into a "science city". The significance of the city as a major industrial and cultural centre of Russia has increased throughout its modern history. Yaroslavl holds leading economic positions among the cities of Central Russia. Since 2009 Yaroslavl has hosted the Global Policy Forum, Russia's major annual political science event. In 2010, Yaroslavl celebrated its 1,000th. In 2005, UNESCO included the central part of Yaroslavl into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Yaroslavl: the Top Five Sites

The "Arrow" of Yaroslavl

The oldest part of Yaroslavl is located on the cape at the confluence of the rivers Kotorosl and Volga. The area is known as the "Arrow" of Yaroslavl (Russian: Strelka).

The Monastery of Our Savior and Transfiguration

The Monastery of Our Savior and Transfiguration is the oldest male monastery of Yaroslavl. It is situated on the left bank of Kotorosl River, next to the place where it flows into the Volga. The monastery was presumably founded in the early 13th century. Throughout its history, the Monastery of Our Savior and Transfiguration been patronized first by the grand princes, and later by the tsars. Almost every grand prince, tsar and emperor of Russia after Ivan the Third has visited and sponsored the Monastery. The Monastery of Our Savior and Transfiguration used to own vast lands in the neighboring regions of Kostroma, Rostov, Romanov, Poshekhonie, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Moscow and Solvychegodsk. The Monastery proved to be a stronghold for both Yaroslavl and the entire Russian nation when it. withstood a 24-days siege by enemy armies in May 1613. The architectural ensemble of the Monastery has developed throughout the centuries, comprising a variety of buildings erected in different times. The stone cathedrals of the 13th century that were mentioned in ancient chronicles were destroyed in the fire of 1501. The only parts that survived are the foundations of the Cathedral of Our Savior and Transfiguration (1216-1224) and its one-aisle Church of the Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem (1218-1224). These relicts are now found in the basement of the Church of Yaroslavl the Wonder-Worker. The most ancient buildings of the Monastery date back to the early 16th century. They are also the most ancient buildings that are found in Yaroslavl today.

The Church of St. Elijah the Prophet

The Church of Elijah the Prophet is a remarkable monument of the Russian Art of the late 17th century. It has played a crucial role in the development of Yaroslavl's architectural and painting school. The church was built in 1647-1650 on the site of two earlier stone temples, with the donation from the richest local merchants, the Skripin brothers. The chuch was initially situated on the territory of their estate. The Church of Elijah the Prophet became a major landmark of Yaroslavl after the city reconstruction in 1778, which placed the church in the centre of a square.
The Church of Elijah the Prophet is a treasury of ancient Russian art that enshrines the memory of the talent of many best artists - architects, painters, smiths, goldsmiths and carvers. The architectural forms, the wall paintings, and the composition of the icons have famed the temple of Elijah as one of the most expressive architectural ensembles of the 17thcentury. It is one of the best preserved monuments of Yaroslavl.

The Church of St. John the Babtist

The Church of St. John the Babtist in the village of Tolchkovo is a monument of the Golden Age of Yaroslavl's architectural and painting school of the late 17th century. The church was built by the community, with the donations raised by the congregation between 1671 and 1687.

The Volkov Theatre

Yaroslavl prides itself on being the home of national Russian theatre. The Volkov Theatre was founded in 1750 by Feodor Volkov, a merchant's son, who donated his own funds. In the 17th century, Yaroslavl was Russia's second largest city (after Moscow) in terms of population, economy, and, above all, its spiritual and cultural wealth. Feodor Volkov and his colleagues staged their first plays in a tannery, a two-storied stone building by the river. The repertoire of the Volkov Theatre featured tragedies by Shakespear, comedies by Moliere, and works of Russia's first playwrights: Sumarokov and Lomonosov. The Volkov Theatre has always promoted the ideals of freedom and humanism.


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