Kremlin of Suzdal

The Kremlin is the heart of Suzdal and the oldest part of the city. According to records, the city was first mentioned in 1024, but archaeologists believe the Kremlin dates back to the 10th century. Surrounded by a ring of earth ramparts with wooden walls and towers on top, the Kremlin was an aristocratic part of town, intended for the prince's court and bodyguard as well as for the highest clergy. The Kremlin’s ramparts and moats, several churches, the archbishop's residence, and the ancient Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin have all been preserved.

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin

The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin is a unique example of the limestone architecture of pre-Mongol Vladimir and Suzdal. It was erected between 1222 and 1225 on the site of the former Assumption Cathedral, which had been built by Vladimir Monomakh in the late 11th and early 12th centuries and later collapsed. The new 13th-century cathedral was built with limestone, but the old plinth (made of comparatively slim and long bricks mainly used in the South-Rus’ construction) from the previous one was used in the masonry filling. This technique distinguishes the cathedral from other monuments of Vladimir-Suzdal architecture. The façades and portals of this 3-domed cathedral were decorated with carvings in limestone. After the fire of 1445, the upper part of the cathedral was rebuilt in brick. The 3 domes were replaced by 5 domes. The 17th century was a period of great change and large-scale reconstruction in the cathedral. The old choir gallery was removed, windows were widened, new narthexes were added, and the walls were repainted. In the 18th century the wooden roof was replaced by a metal one, and the central dome was gilded.

Between 1950 and 1960, the Nativity Cathedral was restored again, getting rid of the non-original constructions; this is when it acquired its present-day look. In 1992, the cathedral was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is one of the most visited exhibits of the Vladimir and Suzdal Museum, displaying authentic church utensils from the 17th to the 20th century. The original 13th-century doors—the famous Golden Doors—were created with a very complicated technique popular among the most skilled medieval European craftsmen. The 13th–19th-century wall paintings, the 17th-century iconostasis, and a huge 17th-century portable copper lantern in the shape of a five-domed church will certainly impress visitors.

Archbishops’ Palace

The architectural ensemble of the Archbishops' Palace was created over the course of several centuries. The first brick chambers of Suzdal bishops appeared in the 15th century, not far from the Nativity Cathedral. In 1635, a monumental bell tower with a huge tent and clock was built in front of the cathedral. The bishop’s home church was in the middle tier of the tower. But the most important alteration to the appearance of the archbishop's residence took place in the late 17th century – the time of Metropolitan Hilarion.

The Archbishop's Palace is a rather complicated group of buildings that date back to different periods. It combines features of old Russian civil architecture with the regularity of the later-style royal chambers. The festive staircase and a spacious lobby lead to the Cross Chamber – the most spacious and imposing room in the new northern part of the palace. This new part was connected to the earlier buildings. The Annunciation Church, restored according to 16th century standards, is one of them. It has a typical porch with galleries. The same kind of porch decorates the entrance on the side of the bell tower. Porches, galleries and other details unite the buildings, completing the whole ensemble. The archbishop's courtyard was previously surrounded by a low brick fence with a gate.

Today the Archbishop's Palace serves as a large museum. The former refectory below the Cross Chamber is used as an exhibition hall. The Cross Chamber has returned to its original appearance after a long restoration. The Suzdal History Museum occupies the former private rooms of the Archbishop's Palace. The former Church of the Annunciation now houses a wonderful collection of Russian icon paintings. A unique 17th-century wooden Canopy of the Jordan is exhibited on the first floor of the bell-tower. In the yard is the wooden Church of St. Nicholas (first built in 1766), which originated in the village of Glotovo. It is the first monument of the Museum of Wooden Architecture of Suzdal, which is located on the opposite bank of the Kamenka river.

Working hours

Territory - 9 am – 8 pm, seven days a week

Museums – 9am – 7pm, seven days a week (Third Monday of the month - 10 am – 2 pm)

Museum of Wooden Architecture

On the place of the former monastery of St Demetrius one can find another marvel of traditional Russian architecture – an open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture. Several churches, houses, and other authentic 18th and 19th-century wooden buildings were brought here from all over the Vladimir region in the 1960–1970s. The man-made beauty of the monuments of folk architecture merged wonderfully with the landscape of centuries-old Suzdal.

The Church of the Transfiguration (1756) seems to be a town cut in wood, with its parts of different sizes and shapes ingeniously connected by the carpenters who built the entire church without metal nails. The recently reconstructed Church of the Resurrection (1776) belongs to the type of “boat-shaped” churches, when all parts of the building stretch along one axis. The ship (bark, or boat) is an ancient Christian symbol comparing the Church to the Noah’s Ark. The church’s interior is that of a typical modest village church. The exhibition in the house of a peasant family of moderate means acquaints the visitors with the way of life of these people, hardworking and skillful. A “well-to-do” peasant’s two-story house with a covered yard, a dwelling area on the upper floor and a weaving workshop on the lower one – presents another mode of life.

Windmills from the south area of the Vladimir region, a well with a treadwheel, bathhouses in the vegetable gardens and riverside barns on stilts make this recreated village more vivid and realistic.

The Museum of Wooden Architecture is a venue for various Suzdal festivals – Maslenitsa Festival with its unforgettable traditional goose fights, in February or March, the Festival of Folk Crafts, on the day of Pentecost in May or June and the already internationally recognized Cucumber Festival, in July.

The Russian House souvenir shop is located in one of the buildings of the Museum.

Working hours

9 am – 7 pm, seven days a week

Third Tuesday of the month – 10 am – 2 pm

The Monastery of the Saviour and St Euthymius Museum Complex

The imposing architectural ensemble of the Monastery of the Saviour and St Euthymius “stands out vividly like a city” on a high steep bank of the Kamenka river. Prince Boris – of Suzdal and Nizhni Novgorod – founded it in 1352. St Euthymius, an associate of St Sergius of Radonezh, became the monastery's first hegumen.

In 1642, Prince Dmitri Pozharsky, a Russian national hero, was buried here.

The present-day architectural ensemble of the monastery was formed from the 16th to the 19th century. After 1917, the monastery precinct housed a prison and a reformatory. It was in the mid-1960s, when the ensemble came into the possession of the museum and the restoration work started on a large scale here. Monastery buildings were reconstructed and different exhibitions were opened there. An unusual “museum town” was created with a variety of museum exhibitions, concerts of bell music, a sweet-scenting herbal garden, the annual Apple Feast of the Saviour, the unforgettable performance of the Blagovest male a cappella choir – all this and much more is offered to the visitors in the Monastery of the Saviour and St Euthymius Museum Complex today.

The Archimandrite's Chambers and the Assumption Refectory Church

On the left hand you can see a two-story house – originally used as an administrative building, it also served the Archimandrite's house. Wooden covered galleries built on brick pillars, and porches make this building look warm and comfortable. Next to it stands a tent-roofed Refectory Church of the Assumption. It is a rarely found combination of a church and civil building dating back to the 16th century. The Assumption Church is a small pillar-shaped church (an octagon on a cube), topped by a tent with two tiers of kokoshniks at its base, with a mighty apse, decorated with niches, pilaster strips, arches and ceramic tiles. The refectory chamber is connected with the Assumption Church on the western side. It is a two-story structure with several vaulted halls; the upper section was used as a refectory and the lower one – as a storage.

Today you can visit several museum exhibitions here. The Book Treasures of Six Centuries exhibition is housed in the halls of the former Archimandrite's Chambers. The exhibition is about the history of books in Russia. Its visitor has a chance to learn about early Russian hand-written books, their production and peculiarities of decoration. A separate section of the exhibition is dedicated to Ivan Fyodorov, the founder of the first printing house in Russia. Here you can find the first Russian printed book – the Apostle (1564), the printed Book of Gospels (1644), and the Primer by Karion Istomin (1694). Books from the 17th to 20th century give the idea of the development of Russian science, social life and literature. The exhibition is open only in warm period (May – October).

The Russian Icons from the 18th to the 20th century exhibition is housed in the same building. A big collection of images belonging to the late period of development of classical Russian icon panting is presented here. Among the exhibits one can see several signed works by Moscow and local icon painters, numerous icons of different types bearing the image of the Holy Virgin and some rare samples of iconography. A separate hall is dedicated to the icon painting of Mstyora – a famous icon painting center from the 18th to the early 20th century.

There are bells dating from the 18th to the 20th century in the Vladimir and Suzdal Museum's collection exhibited on the ground floor of the former refectory chamber. There are more than a dozen bells made at the famous Russian factories in Moscow and Yaroslavl. Special attention is paid to the bells cast in Suzdal and its neighborhood. The heaviest one weighs 300 kilograms. The modern bell of the Pyatkov bell factory, which has been revived in our days, is also exhibited here.

The Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour

The Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour was built in the late 16th century. To some extent its outward forms follow the tradition of old limestone architecture of Suzdal, the building looks monumental and austere. The pride of the cathedral is based on the 16th-century paintings preserved on the outer walls and the 17th-century frescoes by famous masters Guri Nikitin and Sila Savin, covering the walls inside the cathedral like a festive carpet. Recent restoration works held in 2011–2017 removed the later paintings. Now the visitors have an opportunity to see and appreciate the most part of the original 17th-century murals. The principal subject of the murals is the glorification of Christ as a human being and the God. The frescoes are arranged in several tiers on the walls. The top rows illustrate the scenes from the life of Christ: His parables, miracles and the Passion. The New Testament Trinity is represented on the vault of the main cupola. The figures of saints and Russian tsars can be seen on the pillars.

Live concerts of the Blagovest male choir are performed here.

The monastery Bell-tower

The bell-tower was erected from the 16th to the 17th century starting from the 9-sided column of the Church of St John the Baptist built in 1530. There are 17 historical bells, brought from all over the Vladimir region on the bell-tower. One of the most unforgettable moments during a tour of Suzdal is a live concert of bell music performed by professional bell ringers. Recently, the clock was reconstructed on the top of the monastery bell-tower.

The Prison of Suzdal and the Golden Treasury

There are two blocks of the monks' cells and the Infirmary Church of St Nicholas in the north part of the monastery These blocks never fulfilled their original purpose – since the late 18th century they were used for prisoners.

The Suzdal Prison and the Chronicle of its Two-Century History exhibition is located in the building of the former prison.

The prison was founded in 1776 by the order of Catherine the Great. The people of different estates and ranks, laymen and clergy, orthodox believers and sectarians – were incarcerated here. Among the inmates of this jail there were Fyodor Shakhovskoy, a Decembrist; monk Abel, a foreteller, dubbed Russian Nostradamus; Kondratiy Selivanov, a founder of the castrates' sect.

In 1923 a political prison to “re-educate” the ideological opponents of the new power was organized in the monastery. In 1940–1946 among the inmates of the prison there were the internees of the Czech Legion; the Red Army servicemen who were checked after their encirclement and imprisonment by the enemy; then Italian, German and Romanian prisoners of war; and Nazi generals and officers, including Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, who spent several months in Suzdal.

The Golden Treasury exhibition is housed in the 17th-century building – the Infirmary Church of St Nicholas. This is a real treasury of the museum, more than 500 works of art made of precious metals and stones describe ten centuries of Russian jewelry art. Silverware and small carving, face and ornamental embroidery as well as all the variety of different jewelry techniques – forging and casting, chasing and engraving, niello and enamel. Among the most valuable exhibits there are some precious donations of the personalities, famous in Russian history.

The Interwoven Fates exhibition

This exhibition is placed in the same building. The fates of hundreds of Italian prisoners of war detained in this monastery during the WWII, the famous Italian artist and screenwriter Tonino Guerra, and his Russian friend, filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky are tightly interwoven with Suzdal.

The items on exhibit – photos, memoirs of the town residents, prison staff and former prisoners of the war – recreate the atmosphere of the horrible winter of 1943, and the way of life in the Camp № 160 behind the walls of the former monastery.

Here one can learn about Andrei Tarkovsky's work on the Andrei Rublyov film, on-location shooting of which started in 1965 near the walls of the Suzdal Monastery of the Saviour.

The exhibition boasts of the original Tonino Guerra's artworks presented by him to the Museum of Vladimir and Suzdal.

Entrance tower and the walls. The 17th-century example of Russian defensive architecture

In 1664, the wooden stockade of the monastery was replaced by a new stone wall. The monastery precinct was considerably enlarged by that, the enclosure had the form of a polygon with the perimeter of 1400 meters. Despite the fact that the new stone citadel appeared to be of no practical importance, as it was never used for defensive purposes, it was built according to the rules of fortification.

The Herbal Garden

The Suzdal Monastery of the Saviour and St Euthymius was known to have many gardens in the 18th century. One of the duties of the monks was to grow herbs, use them to make cures, healing drinks and teas. The monastery's herbal garden was restored by the museum staff. Among the herbs in garden beds you will find rhubarb, horseradish, peppermint, lungwort, thyme, sorrel, rhodiola, Solomon's seal, parsley, tansy, parsnip, sage, origanum, calendula, primrose, bloodwort, coltsfoot, lily of the valley and many others. One can spend a lot of time admiring plants and flowers in this herbal garden on a fine summer day.

Working hours

Mo – Th, Su – 10 am – 6 pm, Fr, Sa – 10 am – 7 pm
Third Wednesday of the month – 10 am – 2 pm

Second Wednesday of May – 10 am – 2 pm