Rostov Veliky is one of the oldest towns in Russia, it is nearly three centuries older than Moscow.

Rostov Veliky has preserved many ancient buildings. The present view of central part of the town is pretty much the same as it was centuries ago and that is why a lot of historical movies were shot there.

Rostov Veliky Kremlin

Nearly all the Kremlin buildings date from the 1670s and 1680s. The western gate and the northern gate (through which you can't pass) are both straddled by gate-churches: church of the Rebirth and Ioann Bogoslov's church. The churches are decorated with frescoes, dating back to the 17th century. They can be observed from May to October.

Rostov Veliky in early 1900, photo by A. Orlov

The metropolitan's private chapel, the Church of the Saviour-over-the-Galleries (Tserkov Spasa-na-Senyakh), in the south-eastern corner of the Kremlin, behind the metropolitan's house has a beautiful interior with colourful frescoes, painted in the 17th century. The huge White Chamber next door was once the Kremlin's dining hall; the Red Chamber with the massive porch was its guesthouse.

The Cathedral of the Assumption

The cathedral and its belfry dominate the Kremlin, though they are actually outside its northern wall. The cathedral, with its five magnificent domes, was created here a century before the Kremlin. The belfry, added in the 1680s, was famous even outside Russia; the French composer Hector Berlioz came to listen to its 13 bells during his visit to the land of Rostov. Today the biggest bell rings only on the days of church festivals.

Both the metropolitan's house and the White Chamber have museums. The one in the metropolitan's house has icons, paintings and a collection of the luminous painted enamelware of Rostov. The one in the White Chamber displays Rostov-area glass, ceramics and furniture.

Rostov Veliky monasteries

Two monasteries flank the Kremlin on the lake shore. At the distance of two kilometres to the west there is a Monastery of St. Jacob. Its magnificent 19th century cathedral is worth seeing as you'd never expect to find such an architectural splendour in the outskirts of a tiny town. Avraamevsky Monastery, with Cathedral of the Epiphany, built in 1553, is said to be the oldest building in Rostov.