Day 1 - Saturday, July 6
Departure from the US.
Day 2 - Sunday, July 7
Meals: Dinner. Arrival to Moscow. Optional tour of Moscow. Overnight in Moscow.
Day 3 - Monday, July 8
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch. In the morning we will explore the Moscow Kremlin, the ultimate symbol of Russia. Among many other special attractions here we will visit the Uspensky (Dormition) Cathedral, the site of the installation of the Russian Patriarchs and coronation of the Tsars. It is also very important as a museum since it houses a very fine collection of the earliest Russian icons. The Patriarch's Palace contains some unique Artifacts, and the Museum "Oryzheynaya Palata” (the Armory yard) has the "Pearls" of Russia's treasures. After a short break for lunch we will visit the Red Square with its famous Cathedral of the Protection of the Theotokos, more famously known as St. Basil’s, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, rebuilt just 15 years ago and the Chapel of our Lady of Iveron. In the afternoon we will also visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. This Cathedral is marked in all tour books as a “must see” attraction. And it is indeed so. But few people know that along with its mammoth glory it contains some of the nicest modern icons in its lower church and fascinating collection of the Medieval Byzantine and Russian Icons in one of its galleries. Overnight in Moscow.
Day 4 - Tuesday July 9, Moscow.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch. Our plan today is to visit the Andronikov Monastery, commonly known as the Museum of the Ancient Russian Art of Andrey Rublev. Former monastery is a home to the second largest (and probably second best) collection of Russian Medieval Art. Tsvetaev's dream was realized in May 1912, when the museum opened its doors to the public. In the afternoon we will visit Pushkin Museum of fine Arts. Built in 1912, it was originally after the Russian Tzar Alexander III, but in the Soviet Era it was renamed after the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Museum’s collections are excellent, and of particular interest is a collection of the Western Art, that includes works by famous Impressionists and Post-Impressionists artists. Overnight in Moscow.
Day 5 - Wednesday, July 10
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch. Today we’ll tour the best icon collection in the world that is housed in the Tretyakov gallery. We plan to spend several hours here, with a break for lunch at the museum’s cafeteria. In the afternoon we will visit the Novodevichiy Convent, with its magnificent iconostasis and frescoes that are preserved undisturbed from the 17th century. After visit to the Monastery we will continue to the Arbat Street, a pedestrian zone with art galleries, restaurants, and shops, and one of the prime places for souvenir shopping. Overnight in Moscow.
Day 6 - Thursday, July 11
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. The first stop today is at the famous Holy Trinity Lavra (Monastery). 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 explore the territory of this enormous fortress-monastery, with a number of churches, monuments, historical buildings and a number of little shops. Some ten miles from the Lavra is Abramtsevo, an estate where key figures in the Slavophile movement gathered and artistic colony in the 19th century. Many of the Russian poets, artists and philosophers who were regular visitors to Abramtsevo were united by the idea of bringing back the spirit of medieval Russian art and folk life. Today Abramtsevo is an art center and museum. Overnight in Suzdal.
Day - 7 Friday, July 12
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch. This morning, we will explore very important and interesting medieval Russian city of Suzdal, that is situated some 20 miles North of Vladimir. It is practically impossible to try to describe that miracle little town, doubtlessly the jewel of the Russian Golden Ring and of all Russia. Multiple churches and monasteries always leave something new to explore for an attentive visitor, no matter how many times you have been in Suzdal’. Here we will visit the Suzdal’ Kremlin with its fascinating Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos, built in 1220’s. Then we will explore the architectural ensemble of Spaso-Ephymiev (St. Ephymius) Monastery. The latter is especially famous for its magnificent cathedral adorned with splendid frescoes by Guriy Nikitin. After Lunch we will return to Vladimir. Here, our plans are to visit Dormition Cathedral with frescoes by Andrei Rublev and St. Dimitry Cathedral with its fantastic stone bas-reliefs. After the tour of Vladimir we will visit the complex of the convent in Bogolyubovo, built on the spot of one of the earliest residences of the Russian dukes. At the end of the day, we will walk through the pristine fields to explore the world-renown monument - church of the Protection of the Theotokos on Nerl’ River. For an overnight we will return to Suzdal.
Day 8 - Saturday, July 13
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch. In the morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we will transfer to the town of Pereslavl’- Zalessky, the birth place of the Russian Duke Alexander Nevsky. Here we will visit the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral (dated back to 1152-1157) and Goritsky Monastery (museum now) with its fascinating baroque cathedral and small, but special icon and wooden sculpture collection. After lunch in Pereslavl, we will see yet another “jewel” of the Golden Ring, the “fairy tale” city of Rostov the Great. Being small, it nevertheless fully lives up to its name “the Great” due to its stunning monuments – Kremlin, monasteries, churches and museums filled with ancient artistic treasures. Overnight in Yaroslavl.
Day 9 - Sunday, July 14
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Today we will explore the city of Yaroslavl’ – the greatest icon center of medieval Russia. Its artistic treasures easily can compete with those of Moscow and Novgorod. Our exploration of the Yaroslavan treasures we will start with a visit to the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, with its 16th century cathedral, and important icon collection, with some of the most ancient and most splendid pieces of Yaroslavan’ art. We also will visit some of the most famous churches of the city, among them Church St. Elias, perhaps the most famous among numerous Yaroslavan Monuments and ecclesiastical complex of St. John in Tolochkovo, the largest and incredibly beautiful monument of late Medieval Russia. In the evening we will embark on the train for an overnight travel to St. Petersburg.
Day 10 - Monday, July 15
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Upon our arrival to St. Petersburg, and breakfast we will transfer to 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 by 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. Overnight in Novgorod.
Day 11 - Tuesday, July 16
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. Overnight in Novgorod.
Day 12 - Wednesday, July 17
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch. After breakfast we will transfer to the Historical State Park "Peterhoff" with its 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. In the afternoon we will visit 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. Overnight in St. Petersburg.
Day 13 - Thursday, July 18
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch. Our first visit today will be the Alexander-Nevsky Lavra, a beautiful monastery that at one point was one of the biggest and most important in all of Imperial Russia. We will tour the grounds of the Monastery, including the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity that houses the remains of St. Alexander Nevsky, a famous medieval political and military leader. We also will visit the “Necropolis of Artists” on the grounds of the cemetery, where many famous Russian artists, writers and actors are buried. After our visit to the monastery, we will cross the bridge over the Neva and will visit the “strelka” – arrow point – of Vasilievsky Island, a good vantage point for views of the city and a favorite place for photo shoots for newlyweds and tourists, we will visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, the fortified birthplace of the city, which also served as a prison for political dissidents and still serves as the final resting place of the Romanov tsars and their families. Our next stop is the State Russian Museum, which houses the most comprehensive collection of Russian Art from its Byzantine origins up to the present day. Next we will visit the Church of the "Savior of the Spilt Blood," or Holy Resurrection Cathedral, built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was mortally wounded by a bomb thrown by terrorists in 1881. The cathedral is 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 took place during his reign. The inside of the Cathedral is completely covered with mosaics, totaling over 21 thousand square feet of mosaic tiles. Overnight in St. Petersburg.
Day 14 - Friday, July 19
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch. The first stop will be Cathedral of the Icon of our Lady of Kazan, or Kazan Cathedral. It is sometimes referred to as a smaller Russian version of St. Peter’s in the Vatican. We will continue on to the State Hermitage Museum, 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 Neolithic times to the beginning of the 20th century. The museum displays Russian icons, dress coats belonging to Peter the Great, some of Catherine the Great’s dresses, and collections of French art, including the impressionists and works by Picasso and Matisse – among many other things. After lunch, we’ll stop at the 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 Western in style, but adorned with lavish Eastern enthusiasm. The panoramic view of St. Petersburg from its observation deck around the dome is magnificent. Overnight in St. Petersburg.
Day 15 - Saturday, July 20
Meals: Breakfast. Departure.
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