Friday, June 27, 2014

A Busy Morning in Yaroslavl

A river cruise ship that we passed...sometimes there would be several ships at the pier and rather than docking one behind the other, they would dock beside each other. That meant that we had to walk through another ship to get to the pier. We got to check out the competition that way!

We arrived in Yaroslavl at 9:00 a.m. and would be departing at 1:00 p.m. Yaroslavl is a big city with a population of 595,000. The main industries are oil refining and a diesel engine manufacturing plant. Through this arch was the start of our city tour. Today we would be visiting a monastery, the governor's mansion and we would also have some free time for shopping.

Women make up about 10% of the Russian army and they hold a Miss Russian Army beauty contest. Really?!

Yaroslavl is proud to be the birthplace of the first Russian national theatre, the Volkov Theatre, founded in 1750.

Here is the requisite statue of Lenin pointing the way. Our guide said that after 70 years they’re still looking for the way.

People tend to park anywhere. This part of town had a bit of a rundown look to it, but that may be due to its industrial leanings.

Our first stop was the Assumption Cathedral. In front is a war memorial with an eternal flame. The man represents soldiers who fought for Russia, and the woman represents women who stayed home to support families.

A wooden cathedral was first built here in 1215. It was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in the 16th century before being dynamited by the Soviets in 1937. In 2005, it was decided to rebuild the cathedral and the huge building was completed in just five years. The funding for the church came from a private donor who, in 2010, contributed 70 million rubles (just over $2 million) to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of Yaroslavl.


Beautiful tile work over the main entrance...

Some of the original bells are in a fenced area awaiting a belfry to be built in 2016.

It did have a new feeling to it, with the whitewashed walls.

This was originally a public washroom. It was bought by a private individual who decided to make it into a one room hotel which costs $700 a night. Our guide said he would have made more money had he left it as a washroom.

This park on a tongue of land was built to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the city with funding from the state gas monopoly, Gazprom. It is a very popular place for weddings.

Once again, many of the couples will place locks on the railings as a symbol of two people locked together in marriage. Our guide said it doesn’t work as 50% of them end in divorce.


The park showing another magnificent church in the background. It's a great place for walking, picnicking, and rollerblading.

The bear is Yaroslavl's emblem. The legend behind the city’s adoption of the bear symbol relates to its founding by Yaroslav the Wise in 1010. Intrigued by the trading potential of the site where the Kotorosl River flows into the Volga, Yaroslav was exploring the area when angry locals set a sacred bear on him. Accosted by the beast in all its ferocity, Yaroslav the Wise casually disposed of it. The locals declared their loyalty to him allowing him to found a city there. Each year they change the date under the bear to show the years since the city's inception.

Some of the intricate flowerbeds...

This monument of the Holy Trinity is the only one of its kind in Russia as it broke the Orthodox tradition of how they were culturally portrayed. It appears to be good luck to rub one of the hands.

It was back on the bus and off to our next stop, the Transfiguration Monastery. It was at one time the richest and most imposing fortress-monastery on the Volga River.

It was founded in the 12th century but these gates and the cathedral are from the 16th century. There were several school camps visiting that day.

On the side wall are some of the original frescoes dating from the 16th century. The sculpture is a tribute to the bloody wars fought with bows and arrows around medieval Yaroslavl.

The buildings within the monastery...the church had a separate bell tower on the left, built between 1684-1693. The older church is on the right, with a newer one in the middle. The church on the right has helmet-shaped domes as opposed to the more traditional onion-shaped ones.

The entry to the older church is on the left side; the entry of the newer church is on the right behind the columns.

Orthodox bell ringing is an art form in Russia. Andre the bell ringer gave us a demonstration. All the ropes are gathered at one point, where the bell-ringer stands. Some ropes are played by hand and the bigger ropes are played by foot. The major part of the ropes are not actually pulled, but rather pressed to make a clapper strike the side of its bell.


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The monks' residence had 150 monks with 350 workers in the 17th century.

Showing its age a little...

A little replica village showing wooden houses, each of which is a bee house.

This medallion shows St. George slaying the dragon.

Yaroslavl the Wise...

There were a few very  nice artisan shops where I bought some Christmas ornaments. Pretty flowers outside of the shops...

Next stop, the main square, which is still called Soviet Square. This yellow building is a government structure that is currently not being used

The building with the flags is the duma or parliament...

On which you can see the emblem of Yaroslavl...

We had some free time to wander through this part of the city. Quite frankly, I am amazed that we had any free time considering all the sites we visited in a four hour stop. The red chapel is Alexander Nevsky Chapel which is relatively new, built only about 100 years ago.

Matryoshka dolls that were made to celebrate the Sochi Olympics...

Mascot bear...so cute.

We popped into a very modern market and popped back out again. Our guide pointed us in the direction of a liquor store so we could peruse the different types of vodka. We managed to find some relatively inexpensive wine to bring back on board.

It was back to the bus...this church in the town square is the Church of Elijah the Prophet built in the 17th century. The onion-shaped domes are the predominant shape for domes in Russia.

Our last stop of the day was the Governor's mansion, which for some reason, I didn't get a picture of. Probably because my head was spinning by now. This young lady, playing the role of the Governor's daughter, welcomed us to the mansion.

In the Governor's study, with a painting of her father behind her, she pointed out the different areas of the room where he would have worked. The mansion is now Yaroslavl's art museum with a fine collection of 18th to 20th century Russian paintings.

There were many interesting paintings which seemed to tell stories. Sadly, we didn't even have a minute to stop and admire them...



We went into the ball room where we were served champagne. Wheee...champagne before lunch! I felt like we had travelled for hours and then I noticed the champagne was being served by the bartenders from the ship. We probably hadn't travelled too far!

We listened to a trio of musicians, while the daughters of the mansion performed a dance of the era.


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The daughters then went around and asked gentlemen to escort them; some went willingly, some others not so much.

Then all the couples were invited to get up and dance. There was a lot of confusion and a lot of laughter!

We left the mansion and saw a bride without a groom outside...

A decorated car for one of the many weddings that day...

Back on the ship, we sailed past the monastery...

This is Mother Volga who stands on a spit of land on the approach to the locks at the Rybinsk dam. In her left hand she holds a document said to represent the plans for the lock. It is their version of the Statue of Liberty.

Wow...another amazing day. Tomorrow, we will be in Goritsy...

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