Yuryev-Polsky (Юрьев-Пóльский) is an ancient town in the northern part of Vladimir Oblast. The town is included in the Golden Ring and preserves a unique white-stone monument, the 13th century Cathedral of St. George.
Yuryev-Polsky is located 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. Presently, the town lost its hub position. It stands on a minor railway line, far away from any big roads. Basically, Yuryev-Polsky is located 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 russian film "Golden culf" (the version of 1968) 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 located 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.
There are several passing trains, generally from/to Moscow (Yaroslavsky railway station) and Ivanovo or Kineshma plus a daily local train to Alexandrov, from where you can use elektrichkas (suburban commuter trains) to get to Moscow or Sergiev Posad.
The bus station is located next to the railway station, south from the historical center. The station is open from early morning till 17.00 or 18.00. The actual schedule and the time-table can be obtained by calling: +7-(49246)-22-153, 22-373
From Moscow: 3–4 buses per day. In Moscow, the buses depart from the central bus station (Schelkovskaya metro station). The trip takes four hours.
From Vladimir: 5–6 buses per day, the trip takes about two hours.
From Alexandrov: 2 buses per day, the trip takes two hours.
From Pereslavl Zalessky: the bus runs three times a week (normally, on weekends). The trip takes about 2 hours.
From Suzdal: no direct bus connection available. One should either travel via Vladimir or via the village Staryi Dvor. This village stands on the road from Vladimir to Yuryev-Polsky and has three daily buses to Suzdal. The whole trip takes at least three hours.
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.
From Suzdal: 65 km via the villages Obraschiha or Staryi Dvor.
In Yuryev-Polsky, there is a lot of space for free parking. Note however that 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 located nearby, while walking to the train and bus stations should not be diffucult 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.
Cathedral of St. George (Георгиевскийсобор), ул. 1 мая. One of the most impressive buildings of ancient russian architecture. The cathedral was originally 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 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 simply 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 15th century. Wall paintings are pretty regular and date back to 17th century.
Monastery of Archangel Michael (Михаило-Архангельскиймонастырь), 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 originally constructed in 16th century and 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, one finds 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 17th century. Presently, the cathedral of Archangel Michael belongs to the church, while other buildings are used by the museum.
Church of St. Nikita and church of the Intercession (церквиНикитыМученикаиПокроваПресвятойБогородицы), Покровская ул. (south-west from the historical center, across the river). A complex of two churches from 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. Presently, these two churches are the religious center of the town.
Bell tower of the convent of Peter and Paul' (колокольня Петропавловского монастыря: 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.
Church of St. Trinity (1913, russian revival) – a ravaged red-brick building next to the cathedral of St. George.
Church of the Nativity (церковь Рождества Пресвятой Богородицы: 1700, russian style) and the remains of the church of St. Boris and St. Gleb (late 18th century)
Monastery of the Presentation (Свято-Введенский Никонов монастырь). This monastery keeps the remains of two churches in russian style from late 17th century (church of the Presentation and church of St. Nicholas). Both churches were ravaged and rebuilt during the Soviet time. Now they are restored by monks.
Secular buildings: are rather unremarkable and present the general provincial style of 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). The 19th century building of the Trading rows is located directly on the central square.
Museum (Юрьев-Польскийисторико-архитектурныйихудожественныймузей), ул. 1 мая, 4, ☎ +7-(49246)-22-848, . W–M, 09.00–17.00. A complex of several exhibitions (tickets are sold separately for every exhibition):
Art gallery (church of John the Evangelist) – russian art from 16th–19th century.
Cathedral of St. George (interior) – original carved stones from 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 15th–19th century.
Monument to Yury Dolgoruky (central square, near the rampart)
Golden calf (кафе "Золотойтелёнок"), Советская пл. 1, ☎ +7-(49246)-3-45-34. 12.00–0.00. 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 rubles (2008).
Golden ring (кафе "Золотоекольцо"), Советская пл. 2, ☎ +7-(49246)-2-22-20. A cheap and basic cafe on the central square.
Rainbow (закусочная "Радуга"), Советская пл. 5. A canteen on the central square.
Water-colour (кафе "Акварель"), Заводская ул. 9, ☎ +7-(49246)-2-26-23. An extremely basic cafe.
Zarechye (столовая "Заречье"), Набережная ул. 80 (south from the central square, across the river), ☎ +7-(49246)-2-23-74. A cheap canteen attached to the local factory.
Dormitory (ОбщежитиеФЭК), ул. Шибанкова (east from the central square), ☎ +7-(49246)-2-21-16. Dormitory of the college of finances and economics. The rooms are rented in summer only.
Pearl (Жемчужина), ул. Шибанкова, 72 (north from the main square), ☎ +7-(49246)-2-34-55. 700 rubles per person (2008).
Promsvyaz (Гостиницазавода "Промсвязь"), ул. Заводская, 1а (south from the main square), ☎ +7-(49246)-2-27-31. A recently renovated guest house of the factory, located close to the bus and train stations.
Yuryevskaya (Юрьевская), Советская пл, ☎ +7-(49246)-2-28-44 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A modern mini-hotel located in the very 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: 1800 rubles (2008).
Internet access is announced 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.
Gorodische (Городище) – a village, lying 10 km north from Yuryev-Polsky. The spot of the ancient town Mstislavl that vanished in 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 intestine wars in early 13th century.
Get in: buses to Shordoga or Podolets (normally, twice a day).
Luchki (Лучки) – a village, located 30 km north from Yuryev-Polsky. In the beginning of 20th century, the russian merchant Pervushin built a factory for dextrine production here. The factory building is a nice example of industrial architecture from early 20th century, while old wooden houses are remarkable for their fine carvings.
Get in: local buses twice a week.
Nebyloe (Небылое) – a village that lies 30 km south-east from Yuryev-Polsky (the road to Vladimir) and hosts the monastery of the Assumption (Свято-Успенский Косьмин монастырь). The monastery was founded in late 15th century, while the stone buildings were constructed in 17th century (russian style). These buildings were partially or fully destroyed during the Soviet period. Presently, one can see three recently renovated churches, although none of them are really impressive.
Sima (Сима) – a village, located 20 km north from Yuryev-Polsky (the road to Pereslavl Zalessky). The estate of Golitsyn family where Bagration, a famous military leader of the war of 1812, spent last months of his life. Presently, one 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).
Varvarino (Варварино) – an estate of Mit'kov family, 8 km south-east from Yuryev-Polsky. Several buildings in classicism style from late 18th century.
Get in: by car or by foot.
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.
Vladimir – the center of the region and the ancient city. Vladimir preserves several finest 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 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 early 20th century.
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