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Yaroslavl (population 112,000 in 1914 and 633,000 in 1990) is located on both sides of the Volga River at the confluence of the Kotorosl River. For photos taken during recent visits please go to Photos. for the pictures taken during tours in 1998 and 2003. And here for the photos from 2005. It is the oldest known Russian town on the Volga, mentioned in the chronicles first in 1071 but said to have been founded by the future grand prince of Kiev, Yaroslav the Wise, in 1010 while he was still prince of Rostov, at the "Bear's Corner" where he killed a bear with a poleaxe. In 1238 the town was sacked by the Mongols. In 1463 the principality was united with Moscow. During the reign of Ivan IV the town developed as a trading center on the route between Moscow and Archangel on the route used by English travelers from the White Sea. When an English expedition, undertaken in the middle of the 16th century, found how to reach Russia around Scandinavia and through the White Sea, and then down the rivers Dvina and Volga to Asia, the importance of Yaroslavl as a commercial transit center grew rapidly. It was at this time that two important Tatar khanates, Kazan and Astrakhan, were annexed to Russia, linking her directly to Persia and the other Asian states. By 1631 Yaroslavl already had 18 foreign trading posts and its citizens quickly earned a reputation as very capable merchants, and were sometimes sarcastically called "Cuckoo's children." Over the next several centuries the city prospered as a trading port on the Volga and a center of textile manufacture, becoming by the 17th century the second largest city in Russia behind Moscow. They prospered, and to show their wealth they built churches, as did boyars and church prelates in other parts of the country. Many of Yaroslav's citizens were of Novgorodian origin, but were moved there forcefully by Ivan the Terrible; their influence on the arts should not be neglected. Having enough money, quickly earned, they were able to afford the best builders and painters. Unable to ignore completely Moscow's directives and taste, they showed their independence by erecting larger and more richly decorated churches. In the monumental forms of ancient churches, crowned with five (scaly) cupolas, which they adapted for their churches, were decorated with extensive brickwork and varicolored tiles, added galeries and porches and magnificent portals. There were several details that made them original and different from those built in Moscow. Fortunately, the great majority of these remain today, making the city one of the most beautiful destinations in Russia.
The capital was moved here from Moscow during the Time of Troubles (1605-12) and the town was attacked by the Poles and Cossacks. The town lost importance with the opening of St. Petersburg and the Russian trading cities on the Baltic, but with the building of the Moscow - Volga Canal in 1937 it regained significance. It is also a major industrial city.
The medieval kremlin stood in the land between the Kotorosl and Volga Rivers. This area contains many of the oldest remaining buildings including the former Metropolitan's Palace (1690) and the Church of Elijah the Prophet. The Palace now houses the Museum of Russian Ancient and Applied Art. The church contains frescoes by Yuri Nikitin and Sila Savin, artists from Kostroma. The Znamenskaya and Uglichshaya lookout towers date from 1658 and 1635 respectively. Many old buildings remain because the city was not attacked during World War II. The churches are noted for the grand scale of their frescos and for the best woodcarvings in Russia.
The Spaso-Preobrazhensky (Transfiguration of our Savior) Monastery houses the main museum. It was founded in the 12th century and the existing walls and towers date from the 16th century. This was an important fortification in which Ivan IV took refuge from the Tatar Kahn Devlet Ghirai in 1571. The wall is 9 - 10 ft thick and 895 yards in circumference. the holy Gates entrance was completed in 1516. The frescos in the entrance archway illustrate St. John's apocalyptic vision and were painted in 1664. The Transfiguration Cathedral also dates from 1516, but the frescos date from 1782. The monastery is also famous for the discovery there of the manuscript of the "Lay of Igor's Host" in 1795, which became a sensation in European literary circles. Count Musin-Pushkin chanced upon it in a pile of mildewed books and parchments. The Church of Yaroslavl Miracle Workers dates from 1831 and the Krestovaya Refectory Church from the 16th century. The Bell tower of Our Lady of Pechorsk, built in the 16th century, since the 17th century has housed a clock moved from the Spassky tower of the Kremlin in 1624 when the new clock was installed there by Galloway.
In the town are many interesting churches including The Church of Elijah The Prophet, built in 1647 with a 36 meter bell tower. Across the Kotorosl, the summer Church of Ioann Zlatoust was built in 1649 and has frescos and iconostasis dating from 1732. The winter Church of Vladimirskaya next door dates from 1669. Between is a 37 meter high bell tower called the Candle of Yaroslavl. The Churches of Fydor and Nikoly Penskovo are another pair of summer and winter churches with bell tower built in 1691. The Church of Ioanna Predtechi-v- Tolchekovye (St John the Precursor in Tolchkovo) was built in 1671-87, with a 45 meter bell tower dating from 1700. From a distance it appears to have three domes, but it actually has 15 domes and the bricks are carved to imitate wood. Its frescos dating from 1694-5 are among the finest in Russia. The entire surface of the church is decorated with frescoes, brick, terra cotta, and glazed tiles. There are ten churches in Yaroslavl dedicated to St. Nicholas (the patron of commerce). One of them is the Church of Nikola na Melenkakh (St Nicholas by the little watermills) dating from 1672. One of its frescoes depicts the invasion of Tamerlane. The blue and white Church of Saints Peter and Paul, dating from 1736, has a 57 meter bell tower. It was built in honor of Peter the Great and resembles the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The summer Church of St. Nicholas the Wet dates from 1665-72 with frescoes completed in 1673. Nearby is the winter Church of Tikhvinskaya (Our Lady of Tikhvin) (1686). These are especially beautiful with rich, brightly colored ceramic work. The Church of Dmitri Solunski dates from 1671 with frescoes painted in 1686. The Bogoyavleniye Church (Epiphany) dates from 1684-93 including its frescoes and wooden iconostasis. The monumental Church of St. Michael the Archangel and its bell tower date from 1657-80 with frescoes from 1731. It stands on the Kotorosl embankment on the site of a former palace at the spot marking the boundary between the kremlin and market place. The Spasa-na-Gorodu (Our Savior on the Town) Church, located on the old market place, dates from 1672 and has frescoes depicting battles. The Nikolai Rublenova Church dates from 1695. The Ilinnsko-Tikhonovskaya Church dates from 1825-31 and is located on the site of the very first church erected by Yaroslav the Wise. The Nikoly Nadeina Church was the first parish church of Yaroslavl, dating from 1622. Its frescoes completed in 1642 are among the oldest in Russia. The Church of Rozhdestva Khristova (Nativity) dates from 1644 with frescoes from 1683. The Blagovesheniye (Annunciation) Church was built in 1688-1702). The Vladimirskaya Church dates from 1670-78. The Fyodorovskaya Church was constructed in 1687 with frescoes from 1715 depicting every day life and battles of the reign if Peter I. The Kazan convent Cathedral dates from 1845.
Near Yaroslavl, on the left bank of the Volga, is the Tolgski Monastery, founded by Bishop Trifon of Rostov in 1314. It contains the Vvedeniye Bogoroditsy Cathedral (1681-83) and the winter Vozdvizhenskaya (Presentation of the Virgin) Church (17th cent), the summer Spasskaya Church, and Nikolskaya Gate Church (1672).
On the road from Rostov to Yaroslavl is the estate of Nikolai Nekrasov (1821-77) at Karabikha. The estate previously belonged to the Golytsin family.

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