Yuryev-Polsky (Russian: Юрьев-Пóльский) is an ancient town in the northern part of Vladimir Oblast. While the town isn't one of the Golden Ring towns, it has likewise sights from the Middle Ages including a unique white-stone monument, the 13th-century Cathedral of St. George.
Yuryev-Polsky is in the field region (Vladimirskoe Opolye) on the banks of the tiny river Koloksha, the left tributary of the Klyazma. The land near the town is almost flat. There are no natural fortifications, and the spot is quite unpractical from the medieval point of view. The choice of this location was motivated by the agricultural importance of the region and the huge trading activity during the Middle Ages: the roads from Vladimir, Suzdal, Pereslavl Zalessky, and Rostov Veliky crossed here. The town has lost its hub position. It stands on a minor railway line, far away from any big roads. Yuryev-Polsky is in the geographical center of the Golden Ring, but the lack of transport connections prevents most travellers from visiting the town.
Yuryev-Polsky was founded in 1152 by Prince Yury Dolgoruky. The name of the town is related to the founder (Yuryev) and to the location (Polsky or Polskoy, this means "standing in the field" and has nothing to do with Poland). The town was situated in the agricultural region of Vladimir Fields, at the crossing of several trading roads. This advantageous location led to the rapid development. In 1212, Yuryev-Polsky became the center of the small principality that appeared after the defragmentation of Vladimir-Suzdal state. The importance of the town was emphasized by the construction of the white-stone Cathedral of St. George. However, the decay started already in 1238 when the town was destroyed by Batu Khan. Yuryev-Polsky also suffered from further Mongol invasions in 1382 and 1408.
The shift of the capital to Moscow changed the trading activity, and the location of Yuryev-Polsky became less advantageous. Since 14th century, Yuryev-Polsky was considered as a minor settlement on the outskirts of Moscow principality. The town was entrusted to foreign rulers subordinated to Moscow princes. Since 17th century, Yuryev-Polsky is a regular provincial town, standing away from any important roads. The only active road passed from Moscow to Suzdal, but it decayed after the construction of railways, and the town turned to its present, sleepy state. Yuryev-Polsky is recorded in the well-known 1968 Russian film The Golden Calf, after the satiric novel by Ilf and Petrov.
Yuryev-Polsky has a pretty simple rectangular layout. The river flows from north to south and slightly disturbs the regular arrangement of streets and houses. The road from Vladimir comes from the east, the road to Alexandrov and Moscow goes to the south-west, and the road to Pereslavl Zalessky leaves the town in the northern direction. The railroad passes along the southern boundary of the town. The historical center is quite compact and is on the left (eastern) bank of the river. The main square is named Советская площадь (Soviet square). The Trading rows and the monastery of Archangel Michael are found right on this square. The cathedral of St. George is hundred meters away, behind the monastery. The monastery and the cathedral lie within the well-preserved, picturesque ancient ramparts.
The nearest international airports are in Moscow.
- 1 Yuryev-Polsky railway station (in the southern part of the town, 1.5 km away from the historical center), ☏ . The wooden railway station from the 1890s got an outer shell of bricks in the early 2000s, yet the shape of the building and its roof still is reminiscent of the old design. As there are few train services, the station is in practice closed most of the time even if it's supposed to be open around the clock.
- The only direct train from Moscow is the night train to Kineshma. Yuryev-Polsky is at the middle of the route, and as such the stops will be in the middle of the night making this an inconvenient alternative. There are local trains from Alexandrov (1 daily, 2 hr travel time) and Ivanovo (2 daily, 2½ hr travel time), which much more frequent connections to Moscow, but even by these routes, daytrips by train are far from convenient. The train from Alexandrov arrives in the evening, and the trains from Ivanovo arrive in the morning (but departure from Ivanovo is about half past four in the morning) and even later in the evening.
- 2 Yuryev-Polsky bus station (is near the railway station, south from the historical center), ☏ (time-table), . The station is open from early morning till 17:00 or 18:00.
- Bus services are more frequent than train. From Vladimir there are buses every two hours, travel time 2 hr. From Alexandrov there are five daily buses, travel time 2 hr. From Moscow there are four daily buses via Kolchugino and Kirzhach (travel time 3½-4 hr) or almost hourly buses to Kolchugino from where you can take a taxi for the remaining 30 km. However, traffic jams are common along the highway from Moscow so the bus trip can take longer than scheduled. There are no intercity bus services from Yaroslavl and Ivanovo, but you can get in by route taxi (marshrutka) from there.
Coming by car, there are picturesque roads through the fields from Vladimir and Kolchugino.
- From Moscow: 160 km along A103 (via Kirzhach and Kol'chugino). Upon entering the town, pass three or four crossings, turn right, and cross the river (there is no road sign). From Moscow, you may want to take the road towards Yaroslavl and via Alexandrov rather than via Scholkovo and Kirzach as the crow flies — it's about 30 km longer but the road is much better.
- From Vladimir: 70 km along R74. Upon entering the town, you will pass under a railway bridge. Turn left on the next crossing.
- From Alexandrov: 77 km (via Kol'chugino).
- From Ivanovo: via Suzdal - Obraschiha or Vladimir only. There is no adequate road from Yuryev-Polsky to Ivanovo Oblast. The road from Gavrilov Posad to Yuryev-Polsky via Osanovec and Skomovo while exists and paved, contains several segments of extremely bad pavement. (Video footage of the road's condition can be seen here, the worst part begins at timestamp 7:10.)
- From Pereslavl Zalessky: 70 km along R74. The road from Pereslavl-Zalessky (the north) is of varying quality, the same goes for the road from Gavrilov Posad.
- From Suzdal: 65 km via the villages Obraschiha or Staryi Dvor.
In Yuryev-Polsky, there is a lot of space for free parking. In the daytime the central square may be crowded due to the market. Additionally, the street along the monastery of Archangel Michael (towards the cathedral of St. George) is closed for traffic.
The historical center of Yuryev-Polsky is very small and can be easily explored by foot. The hotels and places to eat are also nearby, while walking to the train and bus stations should not be difficult as well. Inside the town, there is a regular (every half-hour) minibus service. Additionally, long-distance buses make a stop in the historical center.
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- 1 Cathedral of St. George (Георгиевский собор), ул. 1 мая. One of the most impressive buildings of ancient Russian architecture. The cathedral was constructed in 1234 in the general style of that period. The appearance of the building was likely similar to that of St. Demetrius cathedral in Vladimir or the church of the Intercession on the Nerl in Bogolyubovo. All the walls were covered by finest stone carvings that formed huge compositions. In the 15th century, the cathedral collapsed, and craftsmen from Moscow repaired the building. However, they were not aware of the original project. Moreover, some stones were broken or lost, and the craftsmen did their best to collect the remainings. The result is the present unusual shape of the cathedral with the unexpectedly huge dome, sitting on the top of the relatively small, stocky building. The walls are covered by carvings, but the original order of the images is unknown, and their present layout is partly accidental. The carvings of this cathedral remain an even greater puzzle than the decoration of St. Demetrius cathedral in Vladimir. Inside the cathedral, one can see ancient tombs of local princes and parts of original stones that were not used during the reconstruction in the 15th century. Wall paintings are pretty regular and date back to the 17th century.
- 2 Monastery of Archangel Michael (Михаило-Архангельский монастырь), ул. 1 мая/Советская пл. The monastery dates back to early 13th century, but its present buildings are much later (16th–18th century). The complex is surrounded by a stone wall with towers. The wall was built in the 16th century, and then rebuilt in 18th century. The towers still look fortress-like and quite impressive, while the wall is rather low and does not have any defensive function. Behind the wall, there are several churches in Russian style: the cathedral of Archangel Michael (late 18th century), the church of Orans (1625), the church of John the Evangelist (over the gate, 17th century), and the wooden church of St. George (17th century, this church was moved from a neighboring village). Additionally, there are a hip-roof bell tower and a refectory building from the 17th century. The cathedral of Archangel Michael belongs to the church, while other buildings are used by the museum.
- 3 Church of St. Nikita and church of the Intercession (Церкви Никиты Мученика и Покрова Пресвятой Богородицы), Покровская ул (south-west from the historical center, across the river). A complex of two churches from the late 18th century. The church of the Intercession is built in the Russian style, while the church of St. Nikita is a nice example of classicism and has a tall red-brick bell-tower. These two churches are the religious center of the town.
- 4 Bell tower of the convent of Peter and Paul (Колокольня бывшего Петропавловского монастыря). Built in the late 19th century, Russian revival. A huge red-brick bell tower, the remain of the former convent. The ravaged refectory building can be found nearby.
- 5 Church of St. Trinity (Собор Троицы Живоначальной). A ravaged red-brick building next to the cathedral of St. George. Built in 1913, Russian revival style.
- 6 Church of the Nativity (Церковь Рождества Пресвятой Богородицы). Built in 1700, Russian style, and the remains of the church of St. Boris and St. Gleb (late 18th century).
- 7 Monastery of the Presentation (Свято-Введенский Никонов монастырь). This monastery keeps the remains of two churches in Russian style from the late 17th century (church of the Presentation and church of St. Nicholas). Both churches were ravaged and rebuilt during the Soviet time. Now they have been restored by monks.
Secular buildings are rather unremarkable and present the general provincial style of the 19th century. The buildings are concentrated along ulitsa Pervogo maya (ул. 1 мая, north from the central square), Krasnooktyabr'skaya ulitsa (Краснооктябрьская ул., north from the central square), and Vladimirskaya ulitsa (Владимирская ул., east from the central square). Notable ones include:
- 8 Abrosimov's estate (усадьба Абросимовых), ул. 1 мая, 75. Built in 1870.
- 9 Fire station (Пожарная часть), Владимирская ул. 14.
- 10 Mescherin's hospital (богадельня Мещериных), ул. 1 мая, 16. Built in 1904.
- 11 Secondary school (Реальное училище), Артиллерийская ул. 30. Built in 1911.
- The 19th-century building of the Trading rows (see #Buy below), built in classicism style with the unusual awning, is on the central square.
Museums and memorials
- 12 Yuryev-Polsky historical-architectonical and art museum (Юрьев-Польский историко-архитектурный и художественный музей), ул. 1 мая, 4, ☏ . May-Aug: daily 10:00-18:00; Sep-Apr: W-Th Sa Su 09:00-17:00, F 09:00-14:30. A complex of several exhibitions (tickets are sold separately for every exhibition): each exhibition 40 руб; belltower 45 руб..
- Art gallery (church of John the Evangelist) – Russian art from 16th–19th century.
- Cathedral of St. George (interior) – original carved stones from the 13th century, and 17th-century wall paintings.
- Observation platform and the exhibition of monk's cell (bell tower). The exhibition is rather boring, while the platform offers a nice view on the town and on the surrounding fields.
- Peasant life and agriculture – the regular life of the region.
- The life of Bagration. Bagration was a famous military leader during the war of 1812. In the end of his life, he lived in the neighboring village Sima (see the Get out section).
- Weaving manufacture – the history of the textile industry and local embroidery.
- Wooden carving (cathedral of Archangel Michael) – unusual wooden sculptures from the 15th–19th century.
- 13 Monument to Yury Dolgoruky (central square, near the rampart).
- 1 City library (Городская библиотека), Артиллерийская ул. 32а, ☏ .
- 2 Cultural center (Дворец культуры), ул. 1 мая, 72, ☏ . Different music, dance and other performances; presumably in Russian only. Also houses the movie theater "Rossija".
- 3 Stadium Labour (Стадион труд), ул. Свободы.
- 4 Stadium Spartak (Стадион Спартак), ул. Шибанкова.
All the necessary shops can be found at Soviet square (Советская площад). Daily goods can be bought in the market arcades and on the market square in the front of them. The market area continues towards the Lenin monument and Krasnooktobrskaya ulitsa. In addition there are many grocery stores around town. There are no huge department stores in Yuryev-Polsky, and overall it's not a shopping destination — head to Vladimir for a larger selection.
- 1 Book store, Советская пл. 12, ☏ .
- 2 Central store (Супермаркет), Советская пл. 1, ☏ . 09:00–22:00.
- 3 Market arcades (Торговые ряды), Советская пл. Lots of small food stores.
- 4 Magnit (Супермаркет «Магнит»), Каланчёвский пер. 9 (behind the market halls). 08:00-22:00. Supermarket, multiple other outlets around town.
There used to be only two cafés in the whole city, and visitors had a hard time finding a place to eat as one was often reserved for private events and the other wasn't particularly inviting. The situation is better now with several eateries around, but places are still rather basic.
- 1 ArtKofe (АртКофе) (in the front of the market). Kiosk with a coffee machine with a range of hipster coffees from vanilla cappuccino to blueberry frappe. However they're bad at making normal coffee, asking for a double espresso will give you a mediocre americano.
- 2 Kafe Bagration (Кафе «Багратион»), ул. Краснооктябрьская, 30. M-W 10:00-18:00, Th-Sa 10:00-03:00. A standard Russian downtown restaurant serving lunch at mid-day and turning into an a la carte restaurant with entertainment during weekend nights.
- 3 Kafe Zolotnoy telyonok (Кафе «Золотой телёнок»), Советская пл. 1. 9-5. A cafe with a trace of Russian style and rather trivial (but fully eatable and even enjoyable) food. In the evening, loud and troublesome music can not be avoided. Main dishes: 100-200 руб.
- 4 Restoran Dinastiya (Ресторан «Династия»), ул. Школьная, 18. 12:00-23:00, F and Sa until 24:00. Both the menu and the interior are no-frills, nevertheless customers get value for money and therefore this is regarded as the best places in the city. Their specialty is the flambeed "fiery soup" (огненный суп) with vodka-soaked crackers set on fire. mains: 200-400 руб.
- 5 Restoran Tokio (Ресторан «Токио»), Каланчёвский пер. 9. 11:00-24:00. At the back of the shopping halls, with red sofas, big mirrors and black drapes, this restaurant serves European and Asian dishes. The dishes are reportedly overly complicated, and alcoholic beverages hardly available on the menu but can be bought from the supermarket in the same building. mains: 200-300 руб.
- 6 Khleb i Moloko (Хлеб&Молоко), ул. Владимирская, 20 (opposite the Lenin memorial). M-Sa 07:30-19:00, Su 09:00-17:00. Bakery specializing in pastries; coffee and tea out of a machine and if it's not working there's another one at the nearby ArtKofe. Probably the best option for having breakfast, as it opens early.
- 7 Zarechye (столовая), Набережная ул. 80 (south from the central square, across the river), ☏ . A cheap canteen attached to the local factory.
- 1 Sky (Ночной клуб), ул. 1 мая, 72. The only night club in the town.
- 2 Kafe Zolotoye Kolzo (Кафе «Золотое кольцо»), Советская пл. 2, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-22:00, Su 11:00-22:00. A colorful combination of cafeteria and bar, the food is OK. In the evening the bar component becomes more notable.
- Dormitory (Общежитие ФЭК) (around the town), ☏ . Dormitory of the college of finances and economics. The rooms are rented in summer only.
- 1 Guesthouse Zhemchuzhina (Гостиница «Жемчужина»), ул. Шибанкова, 66 (5 min on foot from the central square), ☏ . Guest rooms on the second floor above a beauty salon. The manager is only working during the day, so you can't just show up in the evening but need to contact them in advance. double room: 1400 руб.
- 2 Pokrovskaya (Покровская), Владимирская ул. 22а, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A nice mini-hotel next to the main square. The rooms are modern and fully equipped. Breakfast is not served, unguarded parking is available near the entrance. The hotel occupies the third floor of an old building without an elevator. Double room: from 1500 руб.
- 3 Promsvyaz (Гостиница завода), ул. Заводская, 1а (south from the main square), ☏ . A renovated guest house of the factory, close to the bus and train stations. double room: 1800 руб.
- 4 Yuryevskaya (Юрьевская), Советская пл, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A modern mini-hotel in the center of the town. The rooms are fully equipped and even air-conditioned. However, breakfast is not served, and the lack of an elevator makes visitors to climb up to the fourth floor. Unguarded parking is available near the entrance. Double room: 2000 руб.
- 5 Eco-Hotel Zolotoye Kolzo (Эко-отель «Золотое кольцо»), с. Косинское (10 km west of downtown). Modern country hotel with all amenities including air conditioning. double room: from 2900 руб.
The postal code of Yuryev-Polsky is 6018**.
- 1 Central post office (601800), Советская пл. 1а, ☏ . M–Sa, 09:00–20:00.
- 2 Post office # 2 (601802), пер. Вокзальный, 3.
- 3 Post office # 3 (601803), ул. 1 мая, 74.
- See also: Russia#Connect
Internet access is supposed to be available in the central post office (Советская пл. 1a). However, this part of the post office is permanently closed (2008). Most likely, there is no public internet access in Yuryev-Polsky. Russian mobile operators have 3G and 4G networks.
General remark: there are few local buses in Yuryev-Polsky, and their schedule is somewhat irregular and intricate. If you want to visit the neighboring villages, it is certainly advisable to hire a taxi.
- 1 Gorodische (Городище) (13 km from Yuryev, buses to Shordoga or Podolets (normally, twice a day)). A village, lying 10 km north from Yuryev-Polsky. The spot of the ancient town Mstislavl that vanished in the 14th century. The remains of the town are ramparts surrounded by water (former ditch). The land near Mstislavl was the place for the battle of Lipitsa (1216), one of the largest battles during the internal Russian wars in the early 13th century.
- 2 Luchki (Лучки) (10 km north of Sima, 30 km north of Yuryev, local buses twice a week). In the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian merchant Pervushin built a factory for dextrine production here. The factory building is a nice example of industrial architecture from the early 20th century, while old wooden houses are remarkable for their fine carvings.
- 3 Nebyloe (Небылое) (30 km from Yuryev, take a bus to Vladimir). A village that lies 30 km southeast from Yuryev-Polsky (the road to Vladimir) and hosts the monastery of the Assumption (Свято-Успенский Косьмин монастырь). The monastery was founded in the late 15th century, while the stone buildings were constructed in the 17th century (Russian style). These buildings were partially or fully destroyed during the Soviet period. You can see three renovated churches, although none of them are really impressive.
- 4 Sima (Сима) (25 km from Yuryev (the road to Pereslavl Zalessky), buses to Pereslavl Zalessky, Luchki, or Spasskoe (normally, 2-3 times a day)). The estate of Golitsyn family where Pyotr Bagration, a famous military leader of the war of 1812, spent last months of his life. You can see the main house (classicism style), the remains of the park, and a small museum of Bagration. In the village, there is a small church of St. Dmitry (1775, Russian style) with a 5 memorial where his first grave was. The remains of Bagration were in 1839 moved to the Borodino battlefield where he still rests.
- 6 Trinity church in Podolez (Троицкая церковь в Подольце) (30 km from Yuryev). One of the most beautiful churches in the opole, the boyars of Miloslavskys had it built in 1659 in the newest Moscow style of the day. It's notable for its shape with a two-story porch continuing into the bell tower, and for the many stone carvings, patterns and windows. The church used to be in a shabby state and was restored around 2010, but not quite true to the original design but rather painting it in different colors. Nevertheless this did not do much damage to the church and its still quite pretty.
- 7 Fyodorov Manor (Усадьба Фёдоровское) (18 km from Yuryev, left side of the road). A certain count Toll had this manor built in the mid-19th century in Victorian style and as such a quite unusual sight on the Russian countryside. Abandoned long ago, it's not in a very good shape. There's also a park with smaller buildings part of the same complex. The 8 Trinity church in Fyodorovskoye is nearby, also a rather unusual building from 1829 where baroque and classicist styles are combined.
- 9 Varvarino (Варварино) (8 km from Yuryev, get in by car or by foot). An estate of Mit'kov family, 8 km southeast from Yuryev-Polsky. Several buildings in classicism style from the late 18th century.
Obvious choices to go next are Vladimir, Suzdal and Pereslavl Zalessky, with a similar heritage, or Alexandrov which was the capital of Ivan the Terrible's private police, the oprichnina. If you've already seen these, the countryside is beautiful and has many things to see from estates to early Soviet architecture, though you would really need a car to get around these places.
- Vladimir – the center of the region and the ancient city. Vladimir preserves several fine 12th-century monuments of white-stone architecture and a number of later buildings, along with numerous options for accommodation, eating, and entertainment.
- Alexandrov – an old town with a monastery from the 16th century, the country residence of Russian princes during the Middle Ages.
- Kirzhach – a small and lovely town notable for its 16th-century monastery and a nice location on the steep bank of the river.
- Pereslavl Zalessky – one of the ancient towns of the Golden Ring. Numerous old churches and monasteries and the picturesque location near the lake.
- Suzdal – another popular town of the Golden Ring. Suzdal is entirely touristy place, a kind of stark Russian history.
- Teykovo – a town in the neighboring Ivanovo Oblast. Teykovo presents a vast choice of secular and industrial architecture from the early 20th century.