'The Golden Ring' is the name of the area and group of towns which lies to the north-east of Moscow and forms a circle hence its name.
Some of the oldest cities and towns in Russia lie along this route. Each of these cities and towns are full of history and unique Russian architecture of the XII-XVII centuries and many of them have even been the capital of Russia at some stage in their life!
The 'classical' route (counter clockwise) starts from Moscow and moves through Vladimir and Suzdal amongst others and this is the route that Andrew took.
The first main city you come to on the Golden Ring is Vladimir with a population of around 378,000 people. It is located on the railway to Nizhniy Novgorod, and it is the first stop along the Trans-Siberian route.
Vladimir is one of the oldest cities in Russia and was in the 12th century the capital of Russia. Most Golden Ring tours that come through here visit the famous Golden Gate, stop on the main Sobornaya square and visit the beautiful St Dimitrius and Assumption Cathedrals. They then make their way to the fairytale like town of Suzdal.
The tiny city of Suzdal has managed to save its many architectural and historical monuments and while many tourists visit it certainly maintains a country charm.
Its 9 square kilometres contain over 300 architectural monuments of the 18th and 19th centuries including the ancient Kremlin ensemble, 5 monasteries, 30 churches and 14 bell towers, as well as a variety of beautiful samples of civil architecture.
Interestingly, there are pairs of churches in Suzdal, a summer and a winter church. The summer church is larger, making it more airy and suitable for hot summer days, while the winter church is smaller in order for the heating to work better!
When in Suzdal, make sure you visit the main square to meet the friendly locals just as Andrew did. This will also be a good chance to pick up souvenirs for friends and family.
Inside the walls of the Kremlin, make sure you check out the choir who sing inside the elaborately decorated church and most importantly don't miss the bell ringer, who rings his forty bells every hour on the hour. This magical sound and his amazing talent is well worth seeing!
Other things you might like to get up to in Suzdal include taking a walk through the towns streets, entering into the many Kremlins and monasteries, crossing the towns stream on wooden bridges, exploring the country side and eating traditional Bliny (Russian pancakes).
You can even pop into the Trapeznaya Restaurant for a meal off their menu that hasn't changed for 300 years!
In 1982, the International Federation of Journalists writing about tourism, awarded Suzdal the "Golden Apple" for its efforts to preserve its cultural heritage and develop a tourism industry.
Ten years later, many of the architectural complexes of the city including the Kremlin and several monasteries - were included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.
Hero Image Suzdal - By Jean & NathalieRussia Travel Destination Guide