Vladimir Oblast : Bogolyubovo
Bogolyubovo (Боголюбово) is a village in Vladimir Oblast, 13 km east from Vladimir. Bogolyubovo is a generally recognized part of the Golden Ring and preserves finest white-stone monuments from 12th century.
Bogolyubovo is located on the high bank of river Nerl, several kilometers away from its confluence with the Klyazma. The Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod railway line passes at the foot of the hill, south from the village. Behind the railway line, one finds a water-meadow with the church of the Intercession on the Nerl. The old road from Moscow to Nizhniy Novgorod goes through the village, parallel to the railroad. Within Bogolyubovo, this road holds the name улица Ленина (ulitsa Lenina).
Bogolyubovo was founded by prince Andrey Bogolyubsky in 1158. According to a legend, the prince spent the night on this spot and saw Our Lady who ordered him to found the settlement and to build the monastery. During a short period (1158–1165), the palace, fortifications, and the nearby church of the Intercession on the Nerl were constructed. All the buildings were made of stone, a very unusual material for ancient Rus'. In few years, the settlement grew up to a town known as Bogolyubov. However, the decay was as fast as the rise. After Andrey Bogolyubsky was murdered in 1174, the town diminished. In 1177, it was ravaged by Gleb, the prince of Ryazan, while in 1238 Batu Khan destroyed the town completely. The remains of the palace were used by the monastery. Since 13th century, Bogolyubovo is only a small village near the monastery.
The way to Bogolyubovo normally starts from Vladimir. Then one has several options:
Local trains in the direction of Nizhny Novgorod (towards Kovrov, Vyazniki, or Gorokhovets). The trains run 8 times per day, and the schedule is rather inconvenient (there is a gap between 08.30 and 15.30). Generally, it is advisable to take a bus.
Vladimir city buses, including #103 and 152, run through Bogolyubovo. In Vladimir, you can find these buses on any bus stop in the historical center, e.g., near the Golden Gate or on the Cathedral square: just ask for the buses serving Bogolyubovo. Take off the bus as soon as you see a huge convent on your right-hand side. The road to the right, after the convent, goes down to the railway station.
From Vladimir, head east towards Nizhny Novgorod. Bogolyubovo should be the first settlement on your way (before the old road joins the M7 highway). In Bogolyubovo, the parking space is rather limited. You can leave the car near the convent (for free) or turn right after the convent and use the toll parking near the railway station (the price is 50 rubles as of 2008).
Bogolyubovo has few sights, but most of them are essential and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List
Basically, there is nothing to do in Bogolyubovo apart from visiting the regular sights. To waste time, one can walk through the meadow and find an unexpected view on the church of the Intercession. Alternatively, it is possible to swim in the Nerl or Klyazma rivers (there are nice sand beaches close to the church). For other activities, one has to go to Vladimir.
There is a number of grocery stores along Lenina street (ulitsa Lenina). In these stores, you can buy food and a minimum of household goods. For better choice, one has to go to Vladimir. During the summer, souvenirs are sold along the road to the Church of the Intercession.
In Bogolyubovo, one can find two roadside cafes only. More satisfying food is readily available in Vladimir.
If you want to have a drink, you can join locals buying alcohol in one of the round-the-clock shops. However, this is not recommended. The choice of bars and nightclubs is available in Vladimir.
Basically, there is no official place to sleep. However, it is usually possible to spend the night in the convent. You will not have to pay, but you will have to work for the convent instead (note that this option is relevant for russian-speaking travellers only, others are unlikely to get to the convent at all). Most travellers stay in Vladimir that is only half an hour away and offers numerous hotels of different comfort and price.
Despite its great history and tourist importance, Bogolyubovo is a rather unpleasant place with respect to the safety. In general, it is not recommended to stay there during the night (in fact, there is nothing to do in the evening anyway). In the daytime, Bogolybovo is visited by numerous tourist groups and should be quite safe. The only problem may come from the beggars who are very annoying and sometimes even aggressive. If you do not plan to support these people, do not hesitate to send them off.