1. The Volga Embankment and strelka
Walking along the tree-lined river embankments is the favourite past time of the locals at any time of the year and the view of the Volga on one side and the many historical buildings on the other is delightful. Along the way you will pass dozens of (mostly 16th Century) churches, as well as the spit (strelka) which juts out at the point where two rivers meet and functions as a park with classical music blasted out of loud speakers all year round and dancing fountains during warmer months. It’s romantic, historical and great for people watching and boat spotting.
2. Spaso-Preobrazhensky (Transfiguration of the Saviour) Monastery and Museum Reserve
Yaroslavl’s most important monastery dates back to the 13th Century. All but destroyed during a fire in 1501, the monastery as you see it today was mostly built in the 16th Century. At the centre of the monastery is a bell tower which you can climb up for great views over the river and a cathedral with beautiful frescoes. The whole monastery is now a museum and the various buildings and towers of the monastery are filled with a series of exhibitions about the region and its history, as well as fine exhibitions of gold, silver and precious jewels and ancient icons.
3. The Assumption Cathedral (Uspensky Cathedral)
The first wooden cathedral was built here in 1215, destroyed by fire it was then rebuilt in the 16th Century and was completely destroyed again in the 20th Century by the Soviets. In 2005 it was decided to rebuild the cathedral once again and in an astonishing feat of construction the huge cathedral was completed in just five years and now stands to testament to the resurgence of Orthodox Christianity in Russia and a proud symbol of Yaroslavl in a new age.
4. The Yaroslavl Fine Arts Museum
Yaroslavl’s fine art collection is spread over two buildings on the Volga embankment. The first, the 18th Century Governor’s mansion, has an extremely impressive collection of 18th- 20th Century Russian paintings by the likes of Shishkin, Repin, Makovsky, Vasntesov, Levitan, Kuindzhi and Roerich as well as magnificent period furniture and portraits and a sculpture garden. The second part of the collection is appropriately housed in the medieval Metropolitan’s House further down the embankment and consists of numerous valuable icons, some dating back as far as the 13th Century.
5. The Museum of Music and Time
A quaint privately owned museum on the Volga containing the various curiosities amassed by local antique collector John Mostoslavsky. His huge collection includes hundreds of pre-revolutionary clocks, gramophones and samovars as well as thousands of bells, old fashioned irons and unusual piano-organs. The museum also has a fantastic Russian restaurant called Sobraniye which is probably one of the best and most atmospheric in Yaroslavl.
6. The frescoes of the Church of St. Elijah the Prophet
The frescoes of this UNESCO protected church are some of the brightest and most beautiful you will see in all Russia. Frescoes, with a distinct blue which is typical to the Golden Ring region, cover every possible surface, soaring all over the walls and roofs and telling well known stories from the Bible. Amazing acoustics add to the enchanting historic feeling of the church. Note that the church is closed during the colder months (October - April) to protect the frescoes.
7. Pyervomaisky Boulevard and Volkov Square
Yaroslavl’s city centre is famous for its grand 18th and 19th Century architecture which, despite damage during the civil war following the communist revolution, has remained remarkably well-preserved. The most famous building from the era is the yellow Volkov Theatre which sits at the top of the central Volkov square. Surrounding this part of the city is the old Pyervomaisky Boulevard which is a popular place for a stroll and is lined by yet mor old palaces and churches.
8. Volga river cruises
The Volga river no longer functions as a passenger route for locals visiting neighbouring towns, but it is still an important waterway for freight liners and pleasure cruisers. Boats still travel up and down the river ferrying tourists past old villages and monasteries and occasionally all the way to the gorgeous Volga town of Kostroma.