The old Russian city of Vladimir that is among the ‘pearls’ of the Golden Ring and a must-visit place is a famous travel destination for those who want to know the history and culture of Russia. Alina Vedekhina, Head of the Culture Department of the Vladimir city administration, told EcoTourism EXPERT about the most interesting attractions worth of seeing when visiting the city full of history and about new tourism projects that have appeared in Vladimir recently.
- Almost the entire center of Vladimir is a living history. What should an individual traveler focus on not to miss anything interesting?
In Vladimir, the entire central part of the city is a real historical heritage with 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Most tourists come to this city to see the unique monuments of white stone architecture of the 12th-13th centuries, including the Assumption and the Demetrius Cathedrals, the Golden Gate, and the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River.
To better plan their travel route, individual tourists are recommended to visit the city and the regional Tourist Information Centers where they can get a guide-book to the city of Vladimir and the surrounding area, use an audio guide, and create an individual tourist route with the help of a Tourist Information Center’s employee.
By the way, it has become easier for tourists to travel for a few days in our city because over the past three years, many new hotels, mini-hotels, and modern hostels have been opened in Vladimir. The restaurants in the city do their best to offer various tasty local specialties. The traditional Cherry Menu with our famous Vladimir cherries remains especially popular among tourists.
On Spassky Hill, there is an art object dedicated to the Vladimir cherry, and cherry trees grow in the nearby Patriarshiy Garden. Our famous Blinchiki (pancakes) cafe with a viewing platform is also located on the hill, and visitors can enjoy an amazing view of the southern part of the old city with the picturesque Zaklyazma (Transklyazma) expanses.
- Like many people, I visited Vladimir as a child during our school trip around the Golden Ring cities and small towns. What new attractions have appeared in recent years?
In Vladimir, advanced ways of presenting tourism products and new excursion programs of the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve are actively developed. In addition to this, the author-developed tours - like project Excursions from Locals for Locals - have been worked out that allow our visitors to get acquainted with the city from a new, previously unknown perspective. These programs are of interest for those tourists who come not for the first time and want, as they say, to know the region better.
The museums in Vladimir play a special role in this, and there are many new museums housing interesting expositions that can be of great interest to adults and children. For example, the Museum of Spoons in Vladimir has the largest collection of spoons in Russia comprising over 20 thousand spoons, including designers’ spoons and the spoons made by craftsmen who were the Suppliers of His Imperial Majesty Court (the Romanov dynasty), including those made by the House of Carl Fabergé, as well as the Welsh Lovespoons, Christmas spoons, and coronation spoons. This is a kind of storehouse of stories told through the history of a spoon, as well as creative workshops and exciting quests. The exhibitions held in the Old Pharmacy Museum located in the building of the oldest pharmacy in Russia are also interesting. This museum is an artistic creative workshop belonged to the blacksmiths descended from the Borodins’ family; they still use a hammer, forge and an anvil, and they turn blacksmithing into a kind of art. And in the Gingerbread House and Chocolate Workshop, tourists can both taste and cook their favorite delicacy on their own.
I advise the tourists to visit one of the most unusual museums - the Museum of True Stories. There is a collection of unique exhibits (including those from the Book of Records) that shows things of everyday life of the late 19th - early 20th centuries and tells about rare professions, objects used for unusual purposes, as well as about people and literary works; and most importantly, visitors can get to know more about the history of the region and also ‘touch, smell and even taste’ the history at this museum. I am sure that children can be delighted by the Fairy Tale Museum Granny Yagusya (a witch in Russian folk tales) with exhibits that ‘become alive’ and a large exhibition of dolls brought from different parts of the world.
Travelers can feel the pulse of the artistic, creative life of the city of Vladimir by visiting the museum-workshop of outstanding Russian graphic artist Boris Fedorovich Frantsuzov and the Exhibition Halls on Bolshaya Moskovskaya street where a modern exhibition space has been created to display the works of painters, photographers, as well as applied arts and crafts.
- Are new interactive formats in demand?
They are of the greatest attention from tourists. The Eureka Center is among such places; it is a scientific and interactive exhibition where technical modeling is possible, and an excursion program Lights of Vladimir is offered telling about the history of lighting of houses and streets of the city.
Our visitors also like the tourism project Georgievskaya - Street of Arts very much. Under this project, various events and shows, exhibitions and sales of masters of decorative and applied arts and crafts as well as dance master classes are held in the summer on one of the oldest streets of the city that became the first city pedestrian area in 2015. Several new objects were built on this street and tourists liked them very much, including the interactive sculptures the Artist located on the viewing platform and the Fireman located not far from the fire station.
The Vladimir city administration continues to support the development of interactive tourism facilities, municipal and private museums. I also cannot help but mention the newest ‘points of attraction’. An all-season Ferris wheel with a magnificent view was installed in the Central Park of Culture and Recreation, and at the end of 2022, the Mountain YARKOpark sports and ski complex was launched in the center of Vladimir where people can go skiing, snowboarding and tubing in winter. And in the summer, the tourists and the residents are welcome to the Water YARKOpark where they can enjoy wakeboarding - a combination of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing - and many other activities. We believe that trips to Vladimir can give an ultimate travel experience as they can be interesting and educational and also full of activities and fun!
- After visiting the old city of Vladimir, tourists usually go to the ancient town of Suzdal. How many days should tourists spend in these places, and what other places are must-visit ones in the region?
A trip to Suzdal with its Kremlin, churches, monasteries and museums requires at least several days to go sightseeing around the town. And tourists also need to go to the town of Murom - the homeland of Russian epic hero Ilya Muromets, visit the residence of Ivan the Terrible in Alexandrov, explore the cozy town of Yuryev-Polsky, and I strongly recommend to visit the towns of Gus-Khrustalny, Gorokhovets, Kirzhach, Kovrov, Vyazniki, Petushki, and Kolchugino... This list is really endless and depends only on the time travelers have. I would like to remind that in the history of Rus’, the then Vladimir Principality was one of the most important and influential ones, and Moscow in those days served as its outpost protecting the Vladimir Principality lands from the enemies coming from the southwest. So, the today’s Vladimir Region is the best place to ‘feel and touch’ the living history of Russia.
Photos courtesy of the Department of Culture of the Vladimir City Administration.