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Sergiev-Posad (Zagorsk)

Sergiev-Posad is a comfortable and popular day trip from Moscow. The town's chief attraction is the Troitse-Sergieva Lavra, which for 500 years has been the most important center of pilgrimage in Russia and remains one of the most beautiful of all monasteries—the fairy-tale gold and azure onion domes of its Cathedral of the Assumption are among the most photographed in the country. Until 1930 the town was known as Sergiev, after the monastery's founder, and in 1991 it was officially renamed Sergiev-Posad. But the Soviet name of Zagorsk—in honor of a Bolshevik who was assassinated in 1919—has stuck, and you're likely to hear both names used interchangeably.

The ride to Sergiev-Posad takes you through a lovely stretch of Russian countryside, dotted with colorful wooden cottages. As you approach the town, you see the sad and monolithic apartment buildings of more recent times. Then, peeking out above the hills, the monastery's golden cupolas and soft-blue bell tower come into view.

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