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Город Владимир
Путешествие по древним городам Владимирской земли
Старый Владимир
Old Russian Towns
Памятники архитектуры
Музеи, экспозиции
Город Суздаль
История Суздаля
Герб суздаля
Архитектура Суздаля
Музеи Суздаля
Досуг и развлечения
Где поесть во Владимире
Где поспать во Владимире
Что можно посмотреть во Владимире
Где поесть в Суздале
Где поспать в Суздале
Что можно посмотреть в Суздале


The three main periods of Russian mediaeval history are associated with the names of three great towns - Kiev, Vladimir and Moscow.

The earliest period, wreathed in many a heroic legend, was the time when Kiev was the centre of a rapidly growing, powerful Russian state, whose flourishing handicrafts, trade, literature, art and architecture first revealed to the world the astounding strength and scope of Russian creative genius.

During the twelfth century, when the Russian lands were weakened by feudal disintegration, a new centre of Russian culture and political power grew up on its northeast boundaries in the town of Vladimir. Vladimir was the youngest of the three large northeast townships which also included Suzdal and Rostov ruled by the boyars. The townspeople and peasants of Vladimir were quick to realise the need to struggle against the feudal disintegration which was ruining the country, and the alliance of the townspeople with the powerful ruling princes led to the progressive policies of the so-called "Vladimir autocrats", Andrei Bogolyubsky and Vsevolod III, and a brilliant flourishing of culture and the arts. Like the rest of the country, however, Vladimir and its domains suffered heavily from the Mongol invasion and the long years of Mongol rule.

Already in the twelfth century an insignificant township began to grow up on the borders of the Vladimir lands, the town of Moscow, which two centuries later was to become the rallying point for the Russian principalities in their struggle to shake off Mongol rule, the centre of the re-birth of Russian culture and the capital of a centralised Russian state. Just as Vladimir had drawn on the cultural heritage of the Kievan state, so Moscow founded its culture on the great traditions of the Vladimir period. The continuity of Russian culture over the centuries and its tremendous creative output can be seen from the precious relics of the past in which the Vladimir lands abound. This book is intended as a guide to the ancient towns of Vladimir, Bogolyubovo, Suzdal and Yu-ryev-Polskoi.

The arts in old Russia were closely bound up with the church. For as long as seven centuries most of the architecture consisted of stone churches, richly decorated with mosaics, frescoes, carving and church-plate. Consequently we shall find ourselves dealing mainly with non-secular buildings and art in this book. But they were the work of skilled craftsmen, architects, sculptors, painters and jewellers drawn from the ranks of the ordinary town population. It was the powerful native talent of the people which found an outlet in the building of fortresses and palaces, churches and rich dwellings. It was their hands that gave concrete form to the artistic aspirations of church and state. And the fine monuments which they left behind them bear the imprint of their creative inspiration, their tastes, their cherished thoughts and ideas, their vision of a happy homeland "adorned most fair" and the shining strength of the human spirit. This is what constitutes the abiding value of these ancient monuments, their unfading beauty, and their power to move and delight us.

This book was conceived and written as a guide to the ancient towns of the Vladimir lands. However, at the same time, I was anxious to give the reader a broader picture of the history and culture of the Vladimir period, the role played by its historic buildings in the life of those bygone days, and everything of interest in this context, such as buildings which have subsequently disappeared and the fascinating historical and architectural questions linked with them.

I was also anxious to examine individual buildings against the background of the general development of Russian art, to help the reader analyse and compare them, and understand how they stand in relation to each other from the historical and artistic point of view.

I thought it would be useful to deal with the different buildings in the order in which it is most convenient to visit them walking round Vladimir and Suzdal, not in strict chronological order according to when they were built, as is the practice in most guidebooks. This inevitably necessitates a certain amount of repetition and cross-reference. Consequently I have written the book as if I were explaining everything to the reader, walking round the town with him and stopping from time to time to look at this or that building.

I could not resist the temptation to take the reader to the most beautiful parts of these towns and describe my own thoughts and feelings about them. I wanted to appeal to his emotions as well as giving him food for thought. This is only natural since the author was born in Vladimir and has grown up with a deep affection for these parts and their old towns.

If this book helps the reader to get to know and love the splendid past of my native land and its beautiful buildings I shall be more than satisfied.

The preceding foreword was written in 1957, when the book was first published as a modest contribution to the 850th anniversary of Vladimir. Almost ten years have passed since then, years in which the author's wishes contained in the concluding paragraphs of the foreword have come true. The guidebook has been extremely well received by the public and the press alike, and many people have written describing their impressions of the buildings and countryside which this little book has helped them to know and love. I have often seen the many visitors to these parts walking round with the guidebook in their hands. It did not have a glossy dust-cover and its well-worn appearance showed that it rarely lay unused at home on the book-shelves. It has won the affection of many of my compatriots and given them considerable pleasure. Three editions have appeared in the Soviet Union and the guide has also been quite popular abroad. An excellent edition in German was published in 1962 in the German Democratic Republic.

Now here it is again in a new edition intended for the foreign reader who may not necessarily be a tourist. No radical alterations have been made to the text on the grounds that it appeared to be suitable for reading at home. At the same time it is my sincere hope that this book may inspire the foreign reader to come and see for himself the treasures of my native land.

Nikolai Voronin


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