Alexandrov or Aleksandrov is a historic medieval
town in Vladimir Oblast. It is part of Golden Ring of Russia. In the
medieval times it was known as Alexandrovskaya Sloboda and for three
months (between December 1564 and February 1565) it served as a
Russian capital during reign of Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible. Many
people believe that it is one of possible locations of famous Lost
Library of Ivan the Terrible.
History The settlement of Alexandrov is known
since 14th century. However, the official foundation date is 1513,
when Vasili III, the Grand Prince of Moscow, built a residence,
fortifications, and first stone churches on the banks of the river
Seraya. At that time, the settlement was known as Alexandrova
sloboda or Alexandrovskaya sloboda, which means that it was an
independent community exempt from taxes and duties. In 1564, Ivan
the Terrible, the son and the successor of Vasili III, made
Alexandrov his permanent residence. He suffered from defeats in the
war with Lithuania and felt constant fear of treason. Then, he
decided to leave Moscow and to escape from the nobility in
Alexandrov. Alexandrov shortly became the actual center of the
country: for example, one of the first printing factories appeared
here in 1568. However, some negative things appeared as well.
To protect himself, Ivan the Terrible organized a special army
called oprichnina. This army had superior rights and did not
hesitate to rob and murder others (first of all, nobility and
merchants). This made Alexandrov a strange and sorrowful place where
Ivan the Terrible combined orthodoxal religiousness with the
savageness and depravity. The flourish of Alexandrov lasted for 17
years, until 1581. In the fall of 1581, Ivan the Terrible killed his
son (this accident is shown in the well-known painting by Ilya
Repin) and left Alexandrov forever.
The town rapidly decayed
and also suffered from Polish army during the Time of Troubles
(1598-1613). In 1654, the former residence was transformed into a
convent and later used as a place of exile. Alexandrov has been
designated a town since 1778. It gained the regular rectangular
layout and later (1870) hosted the Moscow–Yaroslavl railway. In 20th
century, Alexandrov was strongly industrialized and lost nearly all
of its original buildings. The industry of the city includes the
production of electronics (such as TV sets of the well-known Rekord
brand), crystals and diamonds, textile, and alcohol.
Travel Destinations in Alexandrov
Orientation As you arrive to the train/bus station of Alexandrov,
you will find yourself on a large square, Komsomol'skaya ploschad
(Комсомольская площадь). The street running perpendicular to the
railway tracks is called ulitsa Lenina (улица Ленина). It will lead
you through the central part of the city and finally bring you to
another square, Sovetskaya ploschad (Советская площадь) with the
easily recognizable Cathedral of the Nativity on it. Here the street
changes its name to Sovetskaya ulitsa (Советская улица), runs
downhill, crosses the river, and comes to the convent – the old
Alexandrova sloboda. Following the same street after the convent,
you will start a way east to Kol'chugino and Yuryev-Polsky.
Another important street is Krasnyi pereulok (Красный переулок) that
runs perpendicular to ulitsa Lenina. You will get to this street
from the north while arriving by car from the M8 highway (from
Moscow, Yaroslavl, and many other destinations). Following the same
street in the southern direction will bring you to
Alexandrova Kremlin or sloboda is the eldest part of the city and
the former residence of Russian princes. It is niw the Assumption
convent (Успенский монастырь) jointly operated by the Russian
Orthodox Church and the museum. Sloboda is the must-see attraction
in the whole city: come here to feel the quiet of ancient walls and
churches and to learn something about Russian history. The present
white-painted stone walls were built in 17th century and follow the
general style of medieval Russian fortresses. Original ramparts from
16th century can be seen outside the walls. Inside the convent, you
find several remarkable buildings:
Cathedral of St. Trinity
(Троицкий собор) built in 1513. The cathedral is rather conservative
in its shape and decorations. It resembles the ancient churches of
Vladimir, Bogolyubovo, and Yuryev-Polsky, however the stone carvings
are few. Inside the cathedral, you find some original frescos from
16th century and two iron gates. The gate in the southern portal was
brought from Novgorod during the punitive expedition of Ivan the
Terrible in 1570. The other ancient gate is installed in the western
portal and also originates from Novgorod. The gates reveal fine
carvings depicting biblical stories. Both gates date back to 14th
century and evidence the skill of Russian craftsmen. The cathedral
belongs to the church. Entrance is free.
Church of the
Intercession (Покровская церковь) – the hip-roof church originally
built in 16th century. It is the first hip-roof church in Russia.
You will hardly feel its beauty from the outside, because this
church was the very first attempt to incorporate the hip, a new
element in 16th century Russian architecture. Moreover, later
annexes, the refectory chamber and the bell tower, also changed the
appearance of the building. Still, its interior remains unique due
to the wall paintings (frescos) inside the hip. Hips instead of
domes are a distinctive, but not very common, feature in Russian
architecture. Hips were popular in 16th and 17th centuries, while
later traditions restricted the hips to only bell towers. Painting
the hips from inside was uncommon even for the medieval tradition.
The frescos are painted in dark color and converge to the image of
Our Lord in the apex. Overall, they look mystical and awesome. The
church used to be attached to the prince palace as an in-house
church. The present building of the refectory chamber stands on the
spot of the former palace, so in the basement you can still see
carved portals and original stone-work from 16th century. The Church
of the Intercession is a part of the museum. Tickets are sold at the
Bell-tower of the Crucifixion (Распятская
колокольня) – an unusual building from the middle of 16th century,
the time of Ivan the Terrible. This bell-tower is an example of
advanced hip-roof architecture with a pointed hip and numerous
semi-round kokoshniki below it (yet the tower is just 40 years
younger than the church of the Intercession). The adjoining stone
building is known as Marfa's Chambers, the place of imprisonment of
princess Marfa, the daughter of Tsar Alexey Michailovich. The museum
ticket allows to climb the bell-tower and enjoy panoramic views of
Church of the Assumption (Успенская церковь) is a
regular building in the style of 16th–17th centuries. The church was
originally constructed around 1525. However, the reconstructions in
1570s and in the 17th century modified the galleries and added the
bell-tower. This church is niw a part of the museum.
buildings: church of Theodore Stratelates (надвратная церковь
Феодора Стратилата: 1682, over-the-gate), church of the Presentation
(церковь Сретения Господня: 1682, a small stocky building in Russian
style), living chamber (келейный корпус: 1682, rebuilt in 19th
century), and a number of small buildings from 18th – 19th
centuries. These buildings are pretty regular, since they were
constructed after the decay of the prince residence, as regular
churches and houses in a regular monastery.
Architecture and Art Convservation Museum (музей-заповедник),
Музейный пер. 20, ☎ +7 49244 28-073 (information), +7 49244 20-397
(excursions), +7 49244 21-774 (secretary), e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. T–Su, 09:00–17:00 (on Friday, till 16:00).
Entrance fee: 15–30 rubles for each exhibition, about 150 rubles for
the whole museum. edit
The museum includes seven basic
exhibitions. Additionally, it offers a number of scenic "interactive
excursions" that reconstruct the medieval atmosphere and show some
old Russian traditions, however, in a very imitation way. Among the
exhibitions, you find
Palace of Ivan the Terrible – the
reconstruction of the prince palace. Treasures from three
centuries – the collection of old books, icons, textile, and
embroidery. Tsar court in Alexandrova sloboda – the history of
the prince residence and oprichnina. The must-see exhibition is
one in the church of the Intercession (Tsar court in Alexandrova
sloboda). Here you find the ivory carved throne of Ivan the Terrible
and other original items from 16th century. You will also enter the
church and watch the unique wall paintings inside the hip.
Downstairs in the same building, one finds the original basement of
the prince palace. Other exhibitions are fairly regular.
Cathedral of the Nativity
Cathedral of the Nativity (Собор Рождества Христова), Советский пер.
11 (near the Cathedral square). The cathedral was built in 1696 and
rebuilt in the middle of 19th century. The present appearance
reminds the neo-Byzantine style and, to some extent, the Cathedral
of Christ the Savior in Moscow. To continue this comparison, the
cathedral in Alexandrov has just one dome due to the low
significance of Alexandrov in 19th century. The cathedral is rather
unusual, yet it is not really nice.
Church of Bogolyubobo
Icon of Our Lady (церковь Боголюбской иконы Божьей матери), Красный
пер. 11. A regular church in classicism style from 1800. edit
Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov (церковь Серафима Саровского),
Вокзальная ул. 8 (near the main railway station). A Russian revival
building from 1904.
Church of the Transfiguration
(Преображенская церковь), Садово-Огородная ул. 2а (behind the
convent). A baroque-style church from 1743, rebuilt in the beginning
of 19th century.
Ivanov's house (дом трактирщика Иванова Е.Н.), ул.
Красной молодёжи, 7 (near Sovetskaya ploschad'). A nice building in
art nouveau style (1912-1914), now used by the city administration.
Pervushin's estate (усадьба Первушина), ул. Советская, 16. The
remarkable classicism-style building from the middle of 19th
century. It is combined of two parts, which are made of different
materal (stone in the right and wood in the left), yet decorated in
a very similar way. Railway station, Комсомольская
пл. The original station building from 1870, a nice example of
Russian railway architecture. In the city center, you will find
further old buildings from 18th–19th centuries (note the street
names: Советская, Первомайская, Военная, Ленина, Революции, Красной
Молодёжи). All of them are, however, unremarkable.
Museum of Marina and Anastasia Tsvetaevas
(Александровский литературно-художественный музей Марины и Анастасии
Цветаевой), at the junction of Военная ул. and Военный пер. (south
from ulitsa Lenina), ☎ +7 49244 24-279, +7 49244 26-674, +7 49244
25-693. W–Su, 08:30–17:00. The museum occupies the original wooden
building where Anastasiya Tsvetaeva, a Russian writer, lived in
1915-1917. Her sister Marina Tsvetaeva, a famous poetess, visited
this house and wrote some of her well-known poems here. The managers
of the museum do their best to guide every visitor. In fact,
visiting the museum without a guide is just impossible, because
there are no exhibits to watch. The whole museum is an elegantly
furnished room with photos on the walls and an imitation of the
footbridge in the middle. The guide will readily tell you about the
Tsvetaevas family and also show an exhibition "Alexandrov – the
center of 101st kilometer" about people who were prohibited to live
in Moscow during the Soviet times and stayed in Alexandrov. The
museum is a local cultural center: it hosts musical and poetical
performances, books about Marina Tsvetaeva are also sold here.
Entrance fee: 60 rubles. Museum of artificial stone (Музей
рукотворного камня), Институтская ул. 1 (south from the railway
station), ☎ +7 49244 92-546. M–F 08:00–17:00; excursions can also be
booked for the weekend. The museum is attached to the institute of
synthetic crystals where artificial crystals of diamond, sapphire,
quartz and other minerals are produced. The exhibition includes
natural and artificial stones, the production technology, and the
resulting jewelry. The museum shop offers stones produced in the
institute. Pervushin's house (Усадьба купца Первушина), ул.
Советская, 16, ☎ +7 49244 24-389, +7 49244 21-382, +7 49244 21-604.
Daily 10:00–18:00. The museum reconstructs the old merchant's life.
The museum staff act as the family of Pervushin, the 19th century
Russian merchant originating from Alexandrov. They will tell you
about Russian traditions and the history of the house, offer tea and
local drinks. The interior is not original. This is however
compensated by an unofficial (non-museum) atmosphere, the chance to
see things in detail and to touch them. Art exhibition (another
branch of the museum) can be found in the neighboring building
(Советская ул. 5). The museums of Alexandrov are not very
exciting. Artificial stones are really unusual, while the two other
museums try to compensate the lack of exhibits by the intensive (and
even useless) guidance. The reconstruction of the 19th century life
is rather common for Russian museums and can be found elsewhere. To
learn more about Marina Tsvetaeva, visit the museums in Moscow,
Ivanovo, and Tarusa.
Local destinations Arsaki (Арсаки) – the
village 20 km west from Alexandrov. The location is known for the
monk's settlement (Смоленско-Зосимова пустынь), a 17th-century side
settlement (skit) of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius (Sergiev
Posad). Arsaki keeps nice examples of red-brick churches in Russian
revival style from late 19th century. The buildings belong to the
church, but they are inside the military territory. Entering this
territory requires an ID and is likely problematic for
non-residents. Get in: local trains to Moscow or Dmitrov (every
hour). Bol'shoe Karinskoe (Большое Каринское) – the village 4 km
south-west from Alexandrov (N56° 22.427', E38° 39.997'). The field
near the village (Каринское поле) is a place of the battle between
Russian and Polish troops in 1609, during the Time of Troubles. The
monument commemorates this event. Get in: buses and minibuses to
Strunino (every hour). The bus should follow "via Karinskoe". There
is an alternative route taking a different road. Karabanovo
(Карабаново) – the unremarkable industrial town 10 km south from
Alexandrov. The red-brick industrial building from early 20th
century, the constructivist building of the club, and the war
memorial – it is likely all to see here. Get in: local trains to
Kirzhach, buses or minibuses every 15–30 minutes. Lizunovo
(Лизуново) – the village 20 km south-west from Alexandrov. The
museum of Alexei Musatov, a Soviet writer. Get in: no public
transport. Lukyantsevo (Лукьянцево) – the village 15 km north
from Alexandrov (N56.5045°, E38.7132°). The late 16th century
monastery (Свято-Лукианова мужская пустынь) preserves three
Russian-style buildings from late 17th – early 18th century: church
of the Nativity of the Theotokos, church of the Epiphany, and church
of Ekaterina. Get in: three buses daily. Mahra (Махра) – the
convent of St. Trinity (Свято-Троицкий Стефано-Махрищский женский
монастырь), 15 km south from Alexandrov (N56.2705°, E38.6804°). The
convent dates back to 14th century, but its present appearance is
very recent, because most of the buildings were destroyed during the
Soviet period. The original buildings are the baroque-style church
of Sergiy Radonezhsky (over-the-gate) and the church of Peter and
Paul, both from late 18th century. You will also find a refectory
building and living halls from late 19th century. The largest and
the most impressive church of St. Stephan was rebuilt in 1997. The
territory of the convent is well decorated and looks very
picturesque during the summertime. Get in: buses every two hours.
Strunino (Струнино) – the unremarkable town 10 km west from
Alexandrov. Note the pretty regular church of Transfiguration
(1893-1898), the ravaged red-brick industrial building from early
20th century, and few buildings in constructivism style. Get in:
local trains to Moscow, buses every 20–30 minutes.
Get in Alexandrov is on the boundary of Vladimir Oblast. It
can be reached easily from Moscow Oblast and from Yaroslavl Oblast,
while the connections from Vladimir Oblast are less frequent.
Alexandrov is usually visited together with Kirzhach and
Yuryev-Polsky or on the way to Rostov Veliky and Yaroslavl.
By plane The nearest international airport is in Moscow.
By train There are two railway stations in Alexandrov.
main station (Alexandrov I) stands on the Moscow–Yaroslavl railway,
in the very center of the city. This is a stop or a terminal station
for all the local trains and for some long-distance trains as well.
The station building is open round-the-clock and offers a lounge.
Information: +7 49244 24-171 (local trains), 94-310 (general
information), 24-051 (station assistant). The second station,
Alexandrov II, is minor. It is in the western part of the city, on
the railway to Kirzhach. Alexandrov II is a regular stop for some of
the local trains. The station building is closed. Trains are
preferable for travelling from Moscow, Yaroslavl, and Kirzhach:
From Moscow: local trains run every hour. The trains depart from
Yaroslavsky station, and the trip takes 2 hours. Additionally, there
are 2 daily express trains to Yaroslavl and one express train
terminating in Alexandrov. The express trains are slightly faster,
but they require a "long-distance" ticket (see Russia:Get around for
details). All the local trains make a stop at Sergiev Posad. A
number of long-distance trains departing from Yaroslavsky station
will also stop in Alexandrov. From Ivanovo: one local train runs
early in the morning, while two long-distance trains to Moscow
travel during the night. The trip takes five hours. On the way to
Alexandrov, you will pass through Yuryev-Polsky and Kol'chugino.
From Kirzhach: local trains every 1.5–2 hours (mind the gap in the
afternoon), the trip takes 40 minutes. From Yaroslavl: same to
Moscow, but there are just two local trains per day (travel time 4
hours) and two express trains (2.5 hours). A number of long-distance
trains running in southern direction can be used as well. You will
pass Rostov Veliky on your way. Additionally, there are two local
trains from Dmitrov. If you travel from Vladimir, take a local train
to Orehovo-Zuevo and change there to another local train to
Alexandrov. The whole trip will take at least 4 hours, so the direct
bus connection is recommended instead.
By bus The bus
station is on the square near the main railway station. The building
is open from 05:00 till 21:15. Information: +7 (49244) 24-055
(station assistant), 20-357 (local bus company).
3 buses per day (# 676), departing from VDNH metro station. The trip
takes about two hours (mind longer trips during rush hours). From
Vladimir: 6 buses per day via Kol'chugino (3.5 hours). From
Yuryev-Polsky: 2 buses per day (2 hours). There are several daily
buses from Kirzhach. The town of Kol'chugino is another convenient
transit point with buses to Alexandrov departing every 2–3 hours.
By car Alexandrov has road connections to the neighboring
towns of Kirzhach (37 km) and Kol'chugino (40 km). From Kol'chugino,
you can further reach Yuryev-Polsky (77 km) or Vladimir (120 km, via
Moscow Oblast and Yaroslavl Oblast can be reached
via the 25-km connecting road that joins the M8 highway in the
village Dvoriki. The alternative way to Moscow Oblast is the road to
Strunino and further to A108. The northern road to M8 (via
Lukyantsevo) is not recommended due to the poor quality.
Moscow: take M8 highway towards Yaroslavl, then turn right in the
village Dvoriki (130 km; 50 km from Sergiev Posad). From
Vladimir: take M7 highway towards Moscow, then turn right, via
Stavrovo and Kol'chugino (120 km). From Yaroslavl: take M8
highway towards Moscow, then turn left in the village Dvoriki (190
km; 140 km from Rostov Veliky, 70 km from Pereslavl-Zalessky).
The parking space is available all round the city.
Alexandrov The central part of the city is rather small and
easily explored by foot. The convent and the train station are found
on the opposite sides of the city center (about 20 min walk). A
number of city bus routes are available: in particular, buses # 4
and 7 run between the station and the convent.
Alexandrov (гостиница Александров), ул. Революции Revolyucia
street, 59 (north from Sovetskaya ploschad'), ☎ +7 49244 31-483. The
largest hotel of the city. Rooms have been renovated and offer the
accommodation of different quality: shared bathroom, private
bathroom, or two-room suites. Breakfast included, guarded parking,
restaurant. Room for 2 with shared/private bathroom: 1000/2200
rubles. Island (отель Остров), Военная ул. Voennaya street 9
(south from Sovetskaya ploschad'), ☎ +7 49244 31-505. A modern
mini-hotel, rooms with private bathroom. Breakfast included, guarded
parking, restaurant. LLarsen (гостиница Ларсен), ул. Королёва-Koroleva street, 1
(southern part of the city, the road to Kirzhach), ☎ +7 49244
64-728, +7 495 510-29-93, e-mail: email@example.com. A modern hotel
with a variety of additional services (restaurant, billiard, sport
club, barbershop). Rooms are equipped with a bathroom and
air-conditioned, suites also offer internet access. Breakfast
included, parking available. Double room/suite: 3000 rubles.
Vedrussiya (гостиница Ведруссия), Институтская ул. Institutskaya
street, ☎ +7 49244 31-139. A basic accommodation in the ugly part of
the city. No breakfast, no parking, no cafe. A limited range of food
and drinks is served to the rooms. Double room with shared/private
bathroom: /1300 rubles. Vita (гостиница Вита), Вокзальная ул. Vokzalnaya street 1 (near
the railway station), ☎ +7 49244 94-597. A mini-hotel offering basic
accommodation. Rooms (shared or private bathroom) are noisy due to
the trains. No breakfast, guarded parking. Double room: from 1300
City center Alexandria (кафе Александрия), Казарменный пер. 1.
Alexandrov (ресторан Александров), ул. Революции, 59 (north from
Sovetskaya ploschad'). A restaurant at the hotel. Attic
(кафе Чердачок), ул. Ленина, 13. A small cafe on the second floor of
the trade center, the limited range of food (canteen-type).
Bungalow (суши-бар Бунгало), ул. Ленина, 22, ☎ +7 49244 22-683. A
sushi bar. Cheburechnaya (Чебуречная), ул. Ленина, 62. Fast food
that offers chebureki (a kind of small pies with meat), pancakes,
and grilled meat. Gusli (ресторан Гусли), Советский пер. 33
(south from Sovetskaya ploschad'), ☎ +7 49244 63-405, +7 920
930-12-12. A restaurant decorated in Russian style. Person (кафе
Персона), ул. Ленина, 26, ☎ +7 49244 27-981. 10:00–22:00. Pizza
land (пиццерия Пиццалэнд), ул. Ленина, 20а. Pizza-based fast food.
Sushi-bar, Советская пл. 15:00–24:00. A restaurant of Japanese
and European cuisine (which means a sushi bar with meat food, or the
other way around) at the Saturn cinema. Main dishes: 150–250 rubles.
Troika (ресторан Тройка), ул. Революции, 45, ☎ +7 49244 29-765.
Outskirts Cosa nostra, г. Струнино, ул. Суворова, 22 (the
town Strunino, 10 km west from Alexandrov), ☎ +7 49244 42-955. A
nice pizzeria serving pizza, pasta, soups, salads, as well as
traditional fish and meat dishes. Free Wi-Fi. Main dishes: 200–300
rubles. Larsen (ресторан Ларсен), ул. Королёва, 1 (southern part
of the city, the road to Kirzhach), ☎ +7 49244 64-728, +7 495
510-29-93. Su–Th 10:00–01:00; F Sa 10:00–04:00. A restaurant at the
hotel. Russian Versailles (ресторан Русский Версаль), ул.
Фабрика Калинина, 20, ☎ +7 920 902-72-69. While there are many
places to eat, finding a really nice place can be difficult. Locals
will often advise going to the neighboring town of Strunino (Coza
Nostra), because most of the restaurants of Alexandrov suffer from
typical Russian problems (unfriendly waiters, loud music and drunk
people during the evening hours). If you are not too hungry, try the
Soviet union coffee house, which seems to follow reasonable
standards of quality. For a fast food, cheburechnaya will perfectly
Drink Try alcoholic drinks produced by the local
factory. Vodka, fruit spirits (nastoyki), and cognac are sold in
food stores throughout the city.
Night clubs Saturn
(Сатурн), Советская пл, ☎ +7 49244 30-413. Yubileyniy (ДК
Юбилейный), ул. Свердлова, 37, ☎ +7 49244 23-900.
Buy In the city center, you find two large food
Paterson (Патэрсон) – Красный пер. 2 (open
daily, 08:00–22:00) Pyatyorochka (Пятёрочка) – ул. Ленина, 1
Note also smaller shops at the following streets: Ленина, Советская,
Souvenirs are sold at Alexandrova sloboda: near
the entrance and inside the convent.
Industrial Bank – Красный пер. 21 Sberbank: Октябрьская ул. 2
ул. Революции, 24 ул. Революции, 36 (central office) Советский
пер. 33 — south from Sovetskaya ploschad' Bank offices are
equipped with ATMs. There are more ATMs throughout the city:
Sberbank: Красный пер. 21 ул. Ленина, 13 ул. Ленина, 18
Октябрьская ул. 6 – near the railway station, 24/7 Moscow
Industrial Bank: Институтская ул. 1 – south-east from the railway
station, 24/7 Красный пер. 2 ул. Ленина, 13 Октябрьская ул.
5, стр. 6 Советская ул. 4
Connect Post office The postal code of
Alexandrov is 60165*. Offices in the city center:
post office (601650), ул. Ленина, 28, ☎ +7 49244 21-606, +7 49244
25-871, +7 49244 21-675. M–F 08:00–22:00; Sa 08:00–18:00; Su
08:00–14:00. Post office # 2 (601652), Кольчугинская ул. 5 (east
from the convent), ☎ +7 49244 22-695. M–Sa 09:00–20:00. Post
office # 4 (601654), Вокзальная ул. 1, ☎ +7 49244 20-483. M–Sa
Internet access Internet connection should
be available at the post offices.