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Kostroma

Golden Ring City Associated with the Romanovs

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Kostroma

Kostroma

CC BY-SA michael clarke stuff
Kostroma, a city on Russia’s Golden Ring, is located where the mighty Volga River meets with the city’s namesake, the Kostroma River. This city, founded in the 12th century, has a historic core with attractions of historical and religious significance.

Kostroma History

Kostroma may have been founded, along with Pereslavl Zaleski, by Yuri Dolgoruky, a Grand Prince of Kiev and the founder of Moscow. Like other Russian cities of that era, it was vulnerable to attack, and though its riverside position gave it some defensive advantage, it was sacked by Mongols, Tartars, and other merciless plunderers throughout its history.

Kostroma grew from the 16th century as trade flourished and the Monastery of Ipaty was enhanced with stone walls and structures, a major fortification. It also acted as a royal retreat and sanctuary for nobility who escaped Moscow for rest or for safety.

Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar, was fond of Kostroma and its Ipatievsky Monastery, both which were connected to the long line of Russian rulers, including Boris Godunov, whose ancestor founded it. Mikhail Romanov was named tsar as the successor to the Russian throne even after rivalry led Godunov to banish members of the Romanov family to Kostroma. In fact, Kostroma’s link with the Romanov dynasty is so strong that in 1913, the 300th anniversary of Romanov rule was celebrated in this city. Nicholas II and his family were some of the first visitors to a special museum that opened in honor of this rare event.

Kostroma Sights

The most important sight in Kostroma is undoubtedly Ipatievsky Monastery. The Monastery of St. Ipaty, founded in the early 14th century, honors Ipaty of the Ganges. This saint supposedly helped the Tatar Chet, founder of the house of Godunov, recover from an illness when the saint came to him in a vision. In the 17th century, Ipatievsky Monastery was occupied by the False Dimitry, a character of Russian history who dishonestly claimed to be the son and heir to Ivan the Terrible. Seventeenth-century frescoes decorated the inside of the Godunov-founded Trinity Cathedral and add to the monastery’s significance.

The museum of wooden architecture preserves historic Russian houses and churches. These buildings are a cherished part of Russia’s heritage and museums such as this one (and the one at Kizhi Island) help protect the fragile structures from the ravages of the elements, rot, and insects.

Visit the town center to view 17th-century churches and other structures from times past. Though the Soviet era saw the destruction of some of Kostroma’s landmarks, it’s still possible to see palaces, a guard tower, a fire tower, and a hotel dating from the 18th century.

Other Information for Visitors

Kostroma is considered the jewelry capital of Russia, and for centuries the city’s jewelers have been creating gold and silver jewelry. Scout out opportunities to purchase a special souvenir from this town!

Kostroma is associating with the Russian snow maiden, Snegurochka. The snow maiden is a representative of ancient Slavic rituals celebrating the change of seasons. A seasonal rite in Kostroma may have given rise to the image of the snow maiden as a character of fairytales.

In the year 2007, Kostroma celebrated its 855 anniversary, which shows how far back in history this city can trace its roots and how proud its citizens are of its lengthy heritage. Once a retreat for royalty, Kostroma is now the capital of the region that shares its name.

Getting to Kostroma

The journey from Moscow to Kostroma is around 8 hours by bus or by train. Both run regular routes. You’ll then have to take public transport from the bus or train station into Kostroma proper.
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