Two capitals and the Golden Ring: Moscow, Sergiev Posad, Vladimir, Suzdal, Saint Petersburg
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Duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights
Day 1 MoscowArrival in Moscow On arrival in Moscow you will be met by our friendly representative who will escort you by car or mini bus to your hotel. On the way to the hotel, you will have the opportunity to get your first glimpse of this truly unique city.
Panoramic City Tour. This tour is a great start to your trip and the best way to get acquainted with many of the city´s major highlights. Our professional guide will escort you on a route that includes Vorobyevi Hills where you will get an incredible view of the city from an observation point, you will proceed to Moscow State University which is an example of architecture from the time of Stalin and one of Russia’s leading schools of higher education, then on to Novodevichiy Convent, the Diplomatic Village, Victory Park, the Triumphal Arch, Kutuzovsky Prospect, the Arbat and much more.
Moscow is the capital and the largest city in Russia as well as the largest metropolitan area in Europe with a population well over 10 million. This amazing city has served as the capital of the Soviet Union, the Russian Empire and the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Moscow has had a tumultuous history dating back to medieval times when it was founded by Prince Yuri Dolgoruki (Yuri of the Long Arms, known for the length of his arms!) in the early 12th century. It has seen numerous invasions and sieges from the Mongols to the Poles and Lithuanians to the Crimean Tatars to Napoleon and finally the Nazi’s but it has persevered and today is a thriving metropolis. The city is filled with unique architecture from the Kremlin and Red Square to giant Stalin skyscrapers to new office blocks built during the economic boom of recent years and it contains a strikingly beautiful metro system. The city is the center of political as well as economic power in Russia and visitors can feel the energy in the streets. There is always something going on in Moscow and there is so much to see.
Day 2 MoscowBreakfast at the hotel Excursion to the Moscow Kremlin and Kremlin Cathedrals. (please note that a visit to the Armory Chamber and the Diamond Fund is not included in the tour price. It can be added upon request for extra payment). The Kremlin is a fascinating structure, at the same time it is an ancient tower, the city´s former military fortification, a palace, an armory, the sovereign treasury and the workplace of the Russian President. The Kremlin is the center of Russia´s political life and State power and has been home to Tsars, General Secretaries of the Soviet Union and Russian Presidents. The Kremlin has always been the spiritual centre of Russia. You will see several ancient cathedrals on its territory the most famous of which are the Assumption Cathedral, the Archangel’s Cathedral and the Annunciation Cathedral.
Red Square is just outside the Kremlin´s walls. While walking on Red Square you will admire the Mausoleum of Lenin, the clock on the Savior (Spasskaya) Tower - showing the most correct Moscow time, the History Museum, the beautiful Cathedral of the Intercession (the Church of St Basil the Blessed), Kazansky Cathedral and many other outstanding pieces of Russian architecture.
Day 3:Breakfast at the hotel
Tour of the Moscow Metro system and the Old Arbat. The Moscow Metro is one of the largest and most grandly built metro systems in the world. It was meant to be a showcase of the Soviet Union´s achievements both for the Russians themselves and for visitors from abroad. The stations are all uniquely designed with decorative elements including mosaics, statues, marble floors, walls and staircases to name a few. The tour will then proceed to Old Arbat street. You will be told of the street´s interesting history and view the street´s artisan culture. You will also have the opportunity to view and purchase souvenirs from the street´s many craftsman. Lunch at a local restaurant (optional).
Tour of the Tretyakovsky State Gallery. The world famous gallery contains works of Russian art from the 10th century up to present day. You will view exquisite Russian icons and paintings from the 18th and 19th century including works by Rublyov, Karavak, Vishnyakov, Nikitin, Antropov, Levitsky, Kiprensky, Tropinin, Fedotov, Repin and many others.
Day 4 Sergiev PosadAt 8.00 AM, our driver and representative will pick you up to depart for Sergiev Posad by car or mini-van.
It is 2-3 hours’ drive from Moscow.
Arrival in Sergiev Posad.
Considered by some to be the Russian Vatican, Sergiev Posad is the temporary residence of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. Our tour starts with the Trinity St. Sergius Monastery (Lavra), built in the first half of the 1340s by the son of Rostov Boyar, Sergius of Radonezh, who remains one the most venerated saints in Russia. The monastery includes more than fifty edifices constructed by Moscow, Pskov and Yaroslavl craftsmen. In 1993 it was entered into the UNESCO World Heritage list. The History and Art museum within the walls of the monastery contains a rich collection of old Russian paintings and various works of art dating from the 14th thru 17th centuries. The collection includes over 120,000 items: ancient icons, medieval manuscripts and old printed books, icon and ornamental embroideries, church utensils, articles of gold and silver, paintings, engravings, folk and contemporary art. Sergiev Posad is also famous for being home to the world´s first matryoshka doll. Lunch at the local restaurant (included).
Transfer to Vladimir.
Check into hotel (3-star hotel).
Dinner at the restaurant of the hotel (included).
A little information on Vladimir. There is a dispute about the founding date of the city, either 990 or 1108 but regardless, the city’s most significant events occurred during the 12 century. Under Yuri Dolgoruky´s son, Andrei Bogolyubsky (1157-1175), Vladimir prospered becoming the center of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality. The city’s Golden Age is considered to be from the early 12th century until the Mongol invasion in 1237 during which the Golden Gates and the Cathedral of the Assumption were constructed. The architecture of Vladimir’s white stone cathedrals, towers, and palaces is unique and unlike other buildings in Russia, their exterior was elaborately carved with high relief stone sculptures. The decline of Vladimir began when it was attacked and overrun by the Mongol-Tatars in 1238. A great fire destroyed 32 limestone buildings on the first day alone, while the grand prince and all his family perished in a church where they sought refuge from the fire. The bishop of Vladimir managed to escape. Vladimir never fully recovered but from 1299 to 1325, the city was seat of the metropolitans of Kiev and All Rus until the see was moved to Moscow.
Day 5 Vladimir SuzdalAfter breakfast at the hotel, you will be taken to the town of Suzdal, often called the Russian Mecca. It is just 32 km from Vladimir. Suzdal is amazingly tranquil and beautiful with its numerous churches, wooden houses, bird songs and the ringing of bells throughout the day.
A sightseeing tour will take you to the oldest part of the Kremlin, the heart of Suzdal. Specialists believe the Kremlin dates back to the X century and first appeared in the chronicles in 1024. On its territory you will admire the Cathedral of the Nativity, dating back to the beginning of the XIII century, the largest relic of which is the Golden Gates. The next stop will be to the Archbishops´ Chambers, a large architectural masterpiece that took several centuries to be built. It houses a unique collection of historical and archaeological objects, including the Cross-Vaulted Chamber.
The open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture recreates the life and traditions of the people of Suzdal in the XVIII–XIX century. The ensemble includes churches, log houses and other structures.
• During the low season the museum of Wooden Architecture will be substituted with the Spaso-Yevfimievsky Monastery of Our Savior.
Lunch at the local restaurant (included)
Transfer to Vladimir.
Panoramic city tour. During the city tour you will get acquainted with the main highlights of the city. The first stop is the Assumption cathedral, a unique monument of the white-stone architecture of Vladimir, built in the middle of the XII century by Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky as the main church of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality. World-famous frescoes by Andrei Rublev are preserved there. You will proceed to a small one-domed cathedral of St.Dmitry, built in the beginning of the XII century by then prince Vsevolod as his palace church. The cathedral´s interior still features frescoes of the XII century.
The Golden Gates are considered a door to Vladimir. It is one of the first historical monuments that welcome you on your arrival. It was created in early XII century by prince Andrei Bogolubsky and in ancient times it served as the main military tower of the fortress.
Day 6 Saint PetersburgArrival in St. Petersburg
On arrival in St. Petersburg you will be met by our friendly representative who will escort you by car or mini bus to your hotel. On the way to the hotel, you will have the opportunity to get your first glimpse of this truly unique and beautiful city. After settling in at the hotel, you can sit down to a short lunch (optional), to prepare you for the city tour.
Panoramic City Tour. This tour is a great start to your trip and the best way to get acquainted with all of the city´s major highlights. Our professional guide will take you down Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg´s most famous and vibrant thoroughfare. There you will see some of the city´s most interesting architectural monuments including the Kazan Cathedral and the Winter Palace. You will then proceed to Vasilevsky Island - the area of the city that Peter the Great originally planned to be the city center. This island juts out into the Gulf of Finland - reminding you of St. Petersburg´s close proximity to the sea and maritime history. The tour will include a visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress - a symbol of St. Petersburg and also the oldest building in the city. While there, you will visit Peter and Paul Cathedral, the burial place of the Russian Tsars from Peter the Great onward. You will then be taken back to your hotel to relax.
In the evening you will have free time to stroll along the city streets and to dine at a restaurant of your choice. If you would like recommendations on good places to eat, just ask us.
St. Petersburg is the former capital of Imperial Russia, home of the Tsars and one of the world’s most beautiful and romantic cities. St. Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703 on the banks of the Neva River and the Gulf of Finland. The city has seen its share of historical events including the Decembrist revolt, the palace coup and murder of Tsar Pavel, the intrigues of Catherine the Great, the assassination Tsar Alexander II, the influence of Rasputin on the Russian royal family, the Revolution of 1905 and the October Revolution of 1917 which brought the communists to power. During WWII, the city then known as Leningrad, went through a harrowing two and a half year blockade and siege by the Nazi invaders resulting in the deaths of over 1 million of its citizens. Today, St. Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city with a population of over 5 million. It is also known as the center of Russian art, culture and literature – former citizens included Pushkin and Dostoevsky just to name a few. The entire city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of beautiful palaces and monuments including the Winter Palace. The city is also known as the Venice of the North because of its location on various islands in the Neva River and its many canals and bridges. St. Petersburg is home to the world famous Hermitage Museum which contains one of the world’s largest collections of art including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Matisse, Picasso as well as many other old masters and impressionists. We are sure that you will find St. Petersburg one of the most if not the most fascinating places you have ever visited.
Day 7: Saint PetersburgBreakfast at the hotel
After breakfast we will head to one of the greatest and largest art museums in the world - the Hermitage. The museum consists of five historical buildings including the Winter Palace - the residence of the Russian Tsars. The museum contains over 3 million pieces of art with dates ranging from high antiquity to the present day. Among the Hermitage´s treasures are artworks by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens and a large collection of impressionists and post impressionists including Matisse and Picasso as well as many others. We will spend 3 hours at the museum, however, to view the collection in its entirety would take almost 15 years, spending 8 hours a day in the museum and taking one minute to examine each exhibit.
In the evening, enjoy a ballet or opera performance at the Mariinsky Theater - one of the world´s greatest musical companies (optional). Another option would be to attend one of Russia´s premier folk shows, "Feel yourself Russian!" The show is performed by the best folk company in the city. During the intermission, delicious Russian appetizers will be served. (optional)
Day 8 Saint PetersburgBreakfast at the hotel
Visit to Peterhof. Peterhof ( Petrodvorets) is a jewel of Russian art - a town of parks, palaces and fountains. In the past, it was used as an exquisite summer residence by the Russian Tsars. You will visit the Grand Palace - the largest and the most famous palace of the residence which was often used for gala receptions. After this you will proceed to the Lower Park (Nizhny Park) which is a genuine masterpiece of landscape design. The park is adorned with more than 150 fountains and 4 monumental cascades. There are several small palaces and pavilions on the park territory, such as the Monplaisir, Catherine´s Block, Marli, Hermitage, the Bath Block and many more. If you are ready to walk a lot you will also enjoy a magnificent view of the Gulf of Finland Free Time or boat cruise along the Neva River or canals (optional)
Day 9 Saint PetersburgBreakfast at the hotel
Hotel check out
After a good breakfast at the hotel, you will be escorted to the town of Pushkin (formerly Tsarskoye Selo). The Palace and Park of Tsarskoye Selo is a former country residence of the Russian emperors. It is a fascinating monument of the world´s architectural and gardening arts of the XVIII-XIX centuries. Its 3 parks occupy an area of 600 hectares on which are located over 100 architectural monuments: from magnificent palaces and grand monuments to intimate pavilions and park sculptures designed by masters of the Venetian school such as P. Baratta, A. Tarsia and D. Bonazza. The center of Tsarskoye Selo is Catherine´s Palace, containing exquisite decorative objects, furniture, Russian and Western-European paintings, unique collections of porcelain, amber, arms and decorative bronze sculptures. The Palace also contains the Amber Room - a truly unique work of craftsmanship – a room made entirely of amber. The room was looted by the Nazi’s during WWII but luckily most of its pieces were recovered. The room was fully rebuilt in 2003. Tsarskoye Selo was also the main residence of the last Tsar Nicolas II and his family.
Transfer to the airport
Say goodbye to Russia, we hope that you enjoyed your time with us and we look forward to welcoming you back sometime in the future. Do Svidaniya or until we meet again!
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