A chain of holy cities significant to the Russian Orthodox Christian Church
Situated to the north eastern side of Moscow are a number of ancient towns that were key to the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church. These cities are collectively called the “The Golden Ring.”
The exact number of cities that form the Golden Ring is unclear. I visited a number of these places, all day trips from Moscow and conveniently connected by public transport.
Sergiev Posad is one of those simple towns: an important temple, one central street and little houses around the vicinity. Since its located just outside Moscow (60km), a short day trip is easily doable. I’ll recommend going in the evening and attending the Orthodox mass – with full fledged bell ringing and vocal chanting – its a wonderful spectacle.
I only passed through this city in a friend’s car, stopping briefly to marvel the beautiful domes of this church. “Its the same inside”, my friend said, to which I nodded in approval.
Suzdal was the third city I went to and boy the timing couldn’t have been better. Little did I know that, as birds were flying home for the evening, I would be listening to a mind blowing performance of orthodox church bells at sunset. It was quite a performance! Suzdal was probably the only place where I did not find any McDonalds restaurant (its a craze in Russia)! Neither did I see any visible signs of westernization such as glossy stores.
I went to Pereslavl Zalesky during my last few days in Moscow and by then church fatigue had hit me hard. I had seen so many Russian churches, that I grew tired of them. They all started appearing the same after a while just what I faced after two weeks of Bhutan’s Buddhist monasteries and Peru’s colonial churches. 🙂
These cities are located on the outskirts of Moscow and it is fascinating to see how the scenery changes from hectic urban to leisurely rural, with people smiling at you, cheap food and overall relaxed pace of doing things.