Sergiev Posad, or Zagorsk as it called during Soviet Russia, is a Golden Ring city closest to Moscow (approx. 70 km). Founded in the 14th Century by one of the most highly venerated Russian saints Sergiy Radonezhsky, the city grew out of a small settlement starting with a church built by Sergiy and a few of his followers. Within a couple of decades, the monastery was constructed and the village gradually expanded around it with its population growing year by year as more believers joined the community. The Russian Tzars used to visit the monastery praying for blessings before big battles, or seeking wisdom during complicated and difficult times.
One of the best-known stories which has a connection to the monastery was during the time when Sergiy was still the head of the town. It was in 1380, there was a lot of infighting and power struggle amongst the Russian principalities and the Mongols came to assert their control over the region. Duke Dmitri of Moscow and Vladimir went to Sergiy Radonezhsky seeking guidance and Sergiy blessed Dmitri and his warriors. The battle that ensued shortly after between the Russian forces and Mongols on Kulikovo Field has been widely regarded as the turning point during the 200 year long strife between the Russians and the Mongols.
For those with an opportunity to spend a night away from Moscow, may I recommend a visit to the neighbouring towns of Vladimir and Suzdal (approx. 200 km east of Moscow). Both towns are significant religious landmarks, and both were vitally important during the feudal times.
The principality of Vladimir used to be one of the main forces fighting for influence over other principalities in medieval Russia, especially before the establishment of Moscow and its rise to power in the 14th century. Besides the numerous historical buildings, the main attraction of Vladimir is definitely the Golden Gate. Built in 1164, the Golden Gate used to be the main entrance into town and symbolized its importance and supremacy over the region. Another must see is the Uspensky Church which was the main church in the Russian lands for a very long time and houses the precious icon paintings created by Andrei Rublev.
Suzdal, just several years short of being 1,000 years old, was one of the major contenders for leadership in feudal Russia. Unrivaled in its beauty, the small town of Suzdal is surrounded by historical architecture, meandering streets, monasteries and churches taking you back several centuries and allowing you to experience how Russia used to be centuries ago. My recommendations for Suzdal are the wooden architecture museum where you will discover buildings constructed without the use of nails or any other technology as well as the Pokrovsky monastery which has not changed since centuries ago.
I have been a Concierge for 8 years and for the last 3 years I am the Chief Concierge in the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya. As a Concierge, I am proud to be able to share my country with our guests and introducing them to the most memorable sites in Russia. It is more than a pleasure to know that with our help, our guests learn about our country, its traditions and customs, and when they leave, they can bring back a little piece of Russia in their heart.
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