Suzdal (Су́здаль;) is a historic small town in Vladimir Oblast east of Moscow Russia, about 25 km north of Vladimir. It was once the capital of several Russian principalities and has many examples of early Russian architecture. It is probably the most interesting of the Golden Ring cities.
During the time of the Soviet Union, nearly all of Suzdal's economy was planned around its tourist potential. As a result, very few modern buildings were constructed in Suzdal (by law there are no structures more than 2 stories high except cathedrals). Also, a number of wooden structures from other parts of Russia were transported here, and the whole city was converted into an 'open-air museum'. Unfortunately, Suzdal's dependence on tourism also meant its economy came to a standstill when tourists stopped coming after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The town's tourist trade now appears to be slowly revitalizing itself however, mostly due to an influx of affluent Russian tourists from Moscow and elsewhere.
Suzdal retains a rustic old Russian, Soviet-era atmosphere. You will not find any McDonalds restaurants or any trace of Western chain shops or hotels here. Livestock wandering the streets and elderly women washing cloths in the river (and tourists wielding digital cameras) are regular sights in Suzdal.
There are no trains to Suzdal, so aside from organized bus tours, the only way to reach the city is by bus or car.
- Suzdal Bus station, Vasyliyvskaia (Васильевская ул.), 44 (1km East), ☎ , fax: +7 (49231) 21845. 04:30-20:00. There is one daily bus from Moscow's Shelkovskaya bus station. Special private tour buses to Vladimir and Suzdal also operate from Moscow's Kursky Train Station (Metro: Kurskaya). Prices and destinations vary. - However, a more convenient option is to go via Vladimir, from whence buses run every thirty minutes from 6:30 until 21:40. Also buses to/from Kostroma, Yaroslavl. Few local routes. To Kovrov and Gavrilov Posad (2-3 times a day), but direct transport in Yuriev-Polsky missing.
Trains from Moscow to Vladimir take 2h30m - 3h. See Vladimir#Get in for more information about getting to Vladimir. - From Vladimir train station exit and walk 50 meters across the parking lot to the Vladimir Bus Terminal. Purchase a bus ticket at the ticket counter (72 RUB) and take the bus on platform 10. The tickets have assigned bus seat number, so pay attention, as somebody may take your seat if you do not claim it. When you arrive at the bus station in Suzdal (which is 1 km east of the center), you can stay seated and pay an extra 14 RUB to go to the center with the same bus.
- Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius (Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery), Ul. Lenina, ~135. 09:00-18:00. The Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery is one of the largest and best preserved monasteries in Suzdal. It is very large and houses more than 10 separate museums, including a museum commemorating the GULAG and Russian historical museums. It is just as impressive (perhaps more) than the Moscow Kremlin. One can spend an entire day touring the museums and churches. It is strongly recommended to purchases a single ticket for all of the constituent museums as the guards strongly enforce admission tickets. 350 RUB for an all-inclusive ticket.
- Savior Cathedral ( Transfiguration Cathedral, Спасо-Преображенский собор). - 1594
- Annunciation Gatechurch (Благовещенская надвратная церковь). Around 1600's
- Assumption refectory church (Успенская трапезная церковь).
- Bell Tower (Звонница).
- Archimandrite Chambers (Дом архимандрита).
- St.Nicholas Church (Никольская церковь с корпусом больничных покоев). -1669
- Monk Cells (Братский келейный корпус).
- Monastery Prison (Здание бывшей тюрьмы).
- Kremlin, Ul. Kremlyovskaya.
- Cathedral Nativity Theotokos (Рождественский собор).
- Episcopal Palace (Архиерейские палаты).
- Wooden Church of St. Nicholas (деревянная Никольская церковь). - This church was built in Glotovo in 1766 and was moved to Suzdal in 1960 to be part of a museum of wooden architecture. The church is elevated off the ground about a story high from when it was moved across the country. This church is made out of all wood and represents the close relationship between wood and stone architecture and how precise the Russians were while building this back in 1766.
- Church of Dormition (Успенская церковь). 18th Cent.
- Saint Nicholas Church (Никольская церковь). - 1730's
- Church of Nativity Сhrist (Церковь Рождества Христова). - 1775
- St. John the Baptist Church, ulitsa Lenina, 53. This church was built in 1720, at the same time that the St. Nicholas church was built, although the difference between the types of architecture of the two churches is quite remarkable. Whereas the St. Nicholas Church is all wooden, the St. John Church is made out of white plastered walls with wooden supports.
- St. Alexander Convent (Holy Gate of Alexander's monastery, Святые ворота Александровского монастыря), Ulitsa Gasteva (ул. Гастева), ~21. This church was built in 1240 by an unknown architect. It is said that the princesses of Suzdal, Mariya and Agrippina, were buried here in the 14th century. Parts: Church of the Ascension of Jesus.
- Convent of Intercession (Intercession of the Theotokos convent), Pokrovskaya ulitsa. The convent was founded in 1364. In its center stands the cathedral of the Intercession; it was an add-on built in 1518 financed by Moscow knaz (king) Basil The Third. The interior of the cathedral has no paintings or stained glass, it is simply plain white stone walls all around. The church was and still is one of the richest convents in Russia. The convent is the home of many nuns and is also the burial vault for twenty nuns of noble birth. Connected to the white stoned wall cathedral is an art museum which can be toured. There are many paintings but none in the cathedral itself. This building is filled with arches and art created in the 16th and 17th century.
- Cathedral of the Intercession, Pokrovskaya ulitsa, 50.
- Saints Peter and Paul church, Pokrovskaya ulitsa,48.
- St. Nicholas church, Pokrovskaya ulitsa, 46.
- Rizopolozhensky Monastery (Ризоположенский монастырь), Ulitsa Lenina (ул. Ленина), ~79. The Rizpolozhensky nunnery was founded in 1207. It was the first monastery in the town.
- Cathedral of Rizopolozhensky.
- Monastery Belltower.
- Church of Feast of the Cross (Holy Cross Church, Храм Воздвижения Креста Господня), 3-ya Internatsionalnala ulitsa, ~62 (- Next to the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian). Found in 1696.
- Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian, ulitsa Korovniki,~39.
July 16 - Cucumber Day. A funny holiday, based on the fact that Suzdal's cucumbers have a reputation as the best cucumbers in central Russia. This holiday is celebrated with a folk music festival.
- Walk on Kamenka River. In winter months, when the river is frozen, do walk the length of the river. This is the lifeline of the city and you will see sleighs being pulled and men ice-fishing in the river. It is a beautiful way to see the city.
- Carriage/Sleigh Ride. A carriage or sleigh ride through Suzdal is a memorable (though expensive) experience. The young men offering the rides may be found everywhere, and they start their negotiations with very steep prices (RUR 3,000 / .5 hr). You should be able to negotiate down to RUR 500 or thereabouts, depending on the season. Also, shorter rides can be negotiated.
- Trapeznaya. Located in a room of the refectory of Suzdal's Kremlin, this restaurant features a traditional Russian menu of bliny (pancakes) with caviar, priced much lower than in Moscow. Try their marinated forest mushrooms - they are beautiful and tasty, whether eaten plain or alongside a serving of cold vodka.
- Korchma. Located on Ulitsa Lenina, this is a nice restaurant in the city center featuring high-quality, traditional Russian food. The local cranberry and groundberry vodka-based liquer -- Susdalskaya Nastoika -- is worth a try.
The beverage of choice in Russia is vodka, by far. Suzdal, however, is famous for another drink, medovukha, a Russian type of cider made from honey. Tourists should be wary of purchasing this drink on the streets, though, for counterfeits are common. Ask your guide where you can buy real medovukha.
Suzdal has a wide variety of offerings. There are many small hotels with 5-20 rooms. Advance booking is crucial for those who intend to visit during the New Year holiday season, Independence Day, and during the summer high season.
- "Tourist" is the largest hotel, with a 3-star rating. It is ideal for backpackers, and features "cottages" with attached garages.
- Sokol, A large hotel currently under renovation after a fire.
- Hotel Pushkarskaya Sloboda, ul. Lenina 41, ☎ , fax: +7 (49231) 2-33-63, e-mail: email@example.com. Prices start at RUR 2,500 for a double or twin room.
- Goryachie klyuchi (Bashenki), ul. Korovniki 14, ☎ +7 (09231) 28-000, +7 (0922) 42-02-77, fax: +7 (09231) 2-41-01. A complex of hotels with big wooden rooms and a sauna, situated in a very quiet locale. From here, it takes 20 minutes to walk to the town center, and nearly 40 minutes to walk to the Kremlin. Priced from RUR 10 000.00/room.
- Vasilyevsky Monastery, Vasilyevsky Street. For those interested in a monastic type of stay, the Vasylyevski Monastery offers rooms priced at RUR 400 per person, or 800 per room. The rooms are comfortable, warm, and clean, but are fairly bare-bones, as guests live alongside resident monks. No telephone, TV, or shared kitchen is provided. Two shared bathrooms are available. Vasilyevski Monastery is located on Vasylyevski Street, the main road leading from the Suzdal bus station to the town centre. It is best to exit at Suzdal Bus Station and walk to the monastery. From the monastery to the town centre is a very pleasant 10 minute walk. Pay for the room inside the church. 400.
- Godzillas Suzdal, Naberezhnaya 32, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. From 700 RUB.
The Suzdal Bus Terminal is located on Vasylevski Street. It is a 20 minute walk from the city center, or a short taxi ride. Regular buses leave from Suzdal to Vladimir at short intervals (approximately 30 minutes). At least one daily bus to Moscow leaves at 5:15 AM (arrives in Moscow 10:15 AM - Shelkovskaya Metro - east end of blue line).
The Suzdal bus station is rather primitive, with minimal snack and toilet facilities available. But, it is a long walk to town, and taxi drivers who charge locals about 5 or 10 rubles to drive there will charge tourists up to 200. But, if you are coming by bus from Vladimir, do not get off there. The same bus will take you on to the center of town, unbeknownst to many visitors.