Today marked our departure from the Danilov Monastery and Moscow to the city of Vladimir, located about three hours to the east. In the city center, we visited the Assumption Cathedral, one of the most ancient cathedrals in Russia dating to the 12th century. The interior features golden decorations, icons, and frescoes. As the frescoes faded and darkened over time, new ones were painted over the old. The modern restoration displays these different layers, uncovering works by the masters of the 15th century. The cathedral also features cast iron floors, with stoves underneath the floor heating the church.
After Vladimir, we toured nearby Suzdal, renowned for its preserved look from the time of the tsars. At the Savior Monastery of Saint Euthymius, Father Roman led us past the No Entry sign to the narrow stairs of the belfry, where we got to watch the three o’clock peal. The monastery features a gallery belfry, with the bells displayed in long rows on each side of the building. While the oldest bell dates to the 16th century, the belfry reflects different historical periods with some wooden beams and some concrete, and bells from different time centuries. Outside the monastery, our bell ringers purchased horseradish vodka and pinecone jam from a local street vendor. Then, we continued to the Suzdal Kremlin, the oldest part of the city which was once the capital of Russia. This included views of several domed churches and monasteries by the river, most notably the 13th century Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin as well as the 18th century log cabin Church of Saint Nicholas.
Together, Vladimir and Suzdal are part of the Golden Ring, a series of idyllic, rural villages northeast of Moscow that have preserved the religious and cultural character of medieval Russia.
Following Suzdal, we set out through rural Russia on to Rostov. We traveled on a bumpy two-lane road, reminiscent of a New England road worn with potholes after a harsh winter, except narrower and taken at much higher speed, instead of with the caution that winter weather would demand. This adventurous ride took us past a few small villages of houses before arriving to the Rostov Kremlin, where we are staying. Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to tour Rostov before continuing on our road trip towards Saint Petersburg. This is a particularly exciting stop because several of the bell peals that we have learned, such as Beautiful Rostov, originated from the Rostov bells.