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Side Trips from Moscow Travel Guide

Plan Your Side Trips from Moscow Vacation

Easy day trips into the Moscow environs bring you to some fascinating monasteries, including Russia's most popular place of pilgrimage, Troitse-Sergieva Lavra, and several important cultural sights, among them novelist Leo Tolstoy's estate in Yasnaya Polyana. Trips a bit farther afield into river valleys north and east of Moscow bring you to ancient Russian towns that

make up what is commonly called the "Golden Ring."

They seem quite unassuming today in comparison to the sprawling, bustling capital, but before the Mongol invasion, Rostov, Vladimir, Suzdal, and Yaroslavl were the centers of Russian political, cultural, and economic life. In fact, you might call this historic realm Russia's Capital-That-Might-Have-Been. These small towns, all within easy striking distance of Moscow, were where the Russian nation was born nearly a millennium ago and, consequently, are home to some of the country's most beautiful churches and monasteries, romantic kremlins (fortresses), and famous works of art, such as Andrei Rublyov's frescoes in the cathedral at Vladimir. Although these towns may lack some of the amenities you can easily find in Moscow, they have a provincial charm and aura of history that make them an important stop for anyone seeking to become acquainted with Russian history.

Within easy distance of Moscow are several sights of interest, including two monasteries: the New Jerusalem Monastery near Istra and the Troitse-Sergieva Lavra in Sergiev-Posad. Russian-culture buffs may want to explore Tchaikovsky's former home in Klin; Tolstoy's estate in Yasnaya Polyana; and the Abramtsevo Estate Museum, a beacon for Russian artists in the 19th century.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Appreciate architecture These towns are home to some of the finest examples of Russian architecture; the oldest, most beautiful kremlins; and religious buildings decorated with ancient frescoes.
  2. Experience the "Real" Russia A visit to a quiet provincial town like Vladimir or Rostov is markedly different from the bustle of Moscow's city. The towns' proximity to Moscow makes them easy for day or overnight trips.
  3. Gaze at onion domes The Troitse-Sergieva Lavra's Cathedral of the Assumption has some of the most beautiful and most photographed blue and gold onion domes, and is also the main pilgrimage site for all of Russia.
  4. Honor Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy Visit the home in Klin where Russia's best-known classical music composer wrote The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. See the desk where Tolstoy penned Anna Karenina and War and Peace at his estate in Yasnaya Polyana.
  5. Soak up some Russian history Get to know the heritage of this land of princes it's one of the birthplaces of modern Russia and a cradle of the Russian Orthodox religion.

When To Go

When to Go

To see the monasteries, churches, and kremlins of the region to the best advantage, you should try to make your visits in spring or summer. Winter vis...

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