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The Best of Russia
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The Best of Russia

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 14 - 17 day(s)
Group Size: 20 - 30 people
Destination(s): Russia  
Specialty Categories: Church Tours   Sightseeing  
Season: July
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2950 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 3850 US Dollar (USD)

Day 1. Thursday, July 4, 2013
Group gathers at the airport and departs for Russia.

Day 2. Friday, July 5, 2013
Meals: Dinner
Arrival to Moscow. Transfer to the hotel.

Day 3. Saturday, July 6, 2013.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
We will start our day with a visit to Moscow Kremlin. Kremlin (kremlin is a general term used to describe strongly fortified central part of the Medieval Russian City). Moscow Kremlin is a true Pride of Russia. Among many other special attractions here we will visit Uspenskiy (Dormition) Cathedral, once the place of the installation of the Russian Patriarchs and Crowning of the Tsars. The Patriarch's Palace contains some unique historical and ecclesiastic Artifacts. After Kremlin, we will visit the Red Square – with its iconic "picture of Russia," the famous Cathedral of St. Basil. Our last stop today will be at the Donskoy Monastery – historically important place, the “jail” and resting place of the Russian Patriarch Tikhon.

Day 4. Sunday, July 7, 2013
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
We will start our day with the Divine Liturgy. We will continue our day with a visit to the Tretyakov gallery that houses a very fine collection of Russian art from the 10th to the 20th centuries. In the attached museum church we will see the miracle-working “patron” Icon of Russia, Our Lady of Vladimir. After Lunch we will visit the largest functioning Orthodox Church in the World, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. This magnificent building was demolished in the 1930s and has been rebuilt in recent years, becoming a symbol of changes in the country and the resurrection of the religious life in all of Russia. After visit to the Cathedral we will continue to the Arbat Street, famous Moscow pedestrian zone, place of art galleries and one of the prime places for souvenir shopping.

Day 5. Monday, July 8, 2013
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Today we will travel some miles North East of Moscow for a visit of the Famous Holy Trinity Lavra. The monastic settlement here was established by St. Sergius in the 14th century and became the single most important spiritual center of all of Russia. We will have time to explore the territory of the monastery, with a number of churches, and adjacent territory with a number of little shops. On the outskirts of the town of Sergiev, there is a village of Semhoz. We will stop by to visit a church built on the place where Fr. Alexander Men, famous Russian Missionary of the 20th century was assassinated. After lunch we will visit a very special place in Butovo. Here, on the place of the NKVD-KGB killing fields a memorial complex was built to commemorated thousands of innocents who perished from the hands of the Godless Communist regime. Tonight we will embark on the train for an overnight travel to Pskov.

Day 6. Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Today we will start with an exploration of the Holy Trinity Cathedral situated in amidst picturesque fortifications of the Pskovan Kremlin. From there we will proceed to the state historical museum with its excellent Icon collection, and a special chamber with various medieval ecclesiastical artifacts. Then we’ll continue to explore the treasures of Pskov – among them two splendid jewels – Mirozhsky monastery and Church of St. John the Baptist, both built and consecrated in the 12 century.

Day 7, Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch.
In the morning, after breakfast we will visit Ancient Monastery of Pechori (Pskov Cave Monastery) that Lord spared from Communist desecration. Monastery was wounded at the entrance to the system of the underground tunnels that at one time were channeling the waters of an underground river. For past several hundred years these “God made caves” were used as the monastic cemetery and partially as the hermit cells. After pilgrimage to the caves and venerating miracle working icons in the monastery churches and chapels, we will visit ancient town of Izborsk for inspiring walk through the ruins of medieval fortress to the icy-cold shower in the Holy Springs. Time permitting, we will visit a small village of Vybuty, believed to be the birth place of the Russian equal-to-the-apostles princess Olga.

Day 8. Thursday, July 11, 2013
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
This morning we will transfer to another important medieval center of Russia – city of Novgorod. Novgorod, is a quiet, clean, typical provincial city of Russia’s North-West. But its thousand year history is it truly unique. We will start our exploration of the city with a visit St. George Monastery - arguably the oldest Russian Monastery with the Cathedral of St. George dating back to the 11th century. Then we will continue on to Vitoslavitsi, the museum of Wooden Architecture that has the finest collection of the wooden architecture of the Russian North. There are a lot of wooden churches, houses, barns and wells. These wooden monuments have been brought from various regions of Russia for preservation purposes as well as a display of a variety of wooden architectural styles. In the evening an optional boat ride on Volkhov River can be organized for you to enjoy the splendid panoramas of the city.

Day 9. Friday, July 12, 2013
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
After breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for a visit to the main attraction of Novgorod, the Medieval Kremlin. The buildings of the Novgorod Kremlin date back to the 11th -16th centuries. The most special of them all is the Cathedral of St. Sophia, built in the 11th century, and which has survived largely intact through its thousand year history. In addition to the Cathedral, we will visit several historic and art exhibits in the museums of Kremlin. After Lunch we will visit the Market square, the central point of the medieval city’s commerce and interaction. A number of churches in close proximity to each other serve as a tribute to the piety of Novgorod’s tradesmen. From the Market place, also known as Yaroslav’s court, we will walk down Il’ina street for a visit to Znamensky cathedral. This church was built in dedication to the famous miracle working icon, our Lady of the Sign (Znamenye), the paladin of Novgorod. The nearby Transfiguration church (13th century) still contains some of the original frescoes painted by renown Medieval iconographer Theophanes the Greek. Late in the afternoon we will visit monastery of St. Varlaam of Hutyn’. It was founded by St. Varlaam (+1192) in the 12th century and is one of the oldest and most revered pilgrim destinations in Novgorod.

Day 10. Saturday, July 13, 2013
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
After breakfast we will leave Novgorod and transfer to the State Historical Park "Tzarskoe Selo" (Tsar's village), one of the summer residences of the Romanov dynasty with the splendid Catherine's Summer Palace. Built in the second half of the 18th century, it represents the glory of Russia's "Golden Age". The interiors of the palace are fully restored after they were savagely destroyed in WWII. The amber room that was recently restored once again conquers the imagination of visitors. In the afternoon we will visit another Historical State Park. "Peterhoff" is the location of the world famous Golden Palace that is surrounded by a Park with arcades of golden fountains. We will finish our visit to Peterhoff with a stop at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, an Orthodox Architectural Masterpiece build in Neo-Russian style. This church is also famous for an interesting ceramic iconostasis and rich decoration of the interior.

Day 11. Sunday, July 14, 2013
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
This morning we will attend Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral dedicated to the Icon of our Lady of Kazan, thus known as Kazan Cathedral. At times it is referred to as a smaller Russian version of St. Peter’s in Vatican. It is the Bishop’s see of the city of St. Petersburg and the place where a miracle working copy of Icon of our Lady of Kazan is housed. We will continue our day with the exploration of the State Russian Museum, which houses the most comprehensive collection of Russian Art from its Byzantine Origins up to the present day. Practically adjacent to the Museum stands the famous "Savior on the Spilt Blood," or Holy Resurrection Cathedral, that was built to commemorate Russian Tsar Alexander II who was mortally wounded on that very place by terrorists. Magnificent by all means, it is nicely decorated on the outside with tablets on which Tsar Alexander’s laws and orders are inscribed, along with the dates of the most important events that had taken place during his reign. The inside of the Cathedral is completely covered with mosaics. The inside of the Cathedral is completely covered with mosaics and overall there are over 21 thousand square feet of mosaics inside and outside the Cathedral. Nearby Souvenir market present wonderful opportunity to shop for presents and various memorabilia. In the afternoon we will visit the Alexander-Nevsky Holy Trinity Lavra, a beautiful monastery that at one point was one of the biggest and famous in Imperial Russia. We will tour the grounds of the Monastery, including the magnificent Cathedral of the Holy Trinity that houses relics of St. Alexander Nevsky.

Day 12: Monday, July 15, 2013
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
We will start our day with a visit to Smolenskoye Cemetery where famous Russian Saint and heavenly patron of St. Petersburg, St. Xenia is buried. After our visit to Smolenskoye Cemetery we will visit to St. John of Rila Monastery on Karpovka River. It was founded by Saintly Priest John of Kronstadt, beloved Russian saint, a parish priest and great miracle worker of the 20th century. Just before lunch we will visit SS. Peter and Paul Fortress that is located in the very heart of St. Petersburg. The day when the ground was broken to build this first stronghold in the newly regained Russian lands became the birthday of St. Petersburg. Cathedral of the fortress also serves as a final resting place for the Russian Rulers of the Romanov dynasty. After lunch we will continue our exploration with of the city with a visit to St. Nicholas Cathedral, the most illustrious example of the Baroque style in Russian Church Architecture. It was built in 18th century by the Russian Navy officers, to honor St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the heavenly patron of all travelers and sailors.

Day 13: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
During our last day in St. Petersburg we will visit the State Hermitage, once the Winter Palace of the Russian Tsars, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of Fine Arts. Countless artifacts on exhibit cover the evolution of Art from the Neolithic time and Ancient Egypt up until the beginning of the 20th century. After Lunch we will visit splendidly decorated Cathedral of St. Isaac, one of the world’s largest domed Cathedrals. Never a parish church, it was built as a dedication to the Heavenly Patron of Peter the Great, St. Isaac of Dalmatia. The cathedral is very Western in style, but adorned with truly Eastern lavishness. The panoramic view of St. Petersburg from its observation deck around the dome is truly magnificent

Day 14: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Meals: Breakfast
Departure back home

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price does include:
•Accommodations in "****" hotels
•Two or three meals daily, according to the itinerary
•Private bus transportation
•An overnight sleeper train
•All admissions as per itinerary.
•Professional English speaking tour guides
•English speaking guide/escort during the entire tour
Price does not include:
•Personal health/accident insurance
•Airfare tickets
•Fee for Russian visa (all necessar documents will be provided)
•Private transfers, optional tours and tickets
• Any newly introduced fees
• Bed sheets on the train if not included in the ticket price
• Tips to bus drivers and tour guides
• Anything that is not specifically mentioned in “Price Includes”

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