Rostov Velikiy Travel Guide

Rostov Velikiy Travel Guide

Rostov Velikiy


Rostov, sometimes also called Veliky, or Rostov the Great, is a small town in the Yaroslavl region, whose population is just over 30 000 people. Rostov is one of the cities of Russia’s Golden Ring. It is located 50 kilometres from Yaroslavl in a picturesque location on the western shore of Lake Nero, which is about 500 000 years old.

Historical Overview

According to archaeological research, Rostov was founded in the 8th century by members of the ancient Finno-Ugric tribe. The first written reference to it dates back to 862 in the oldest Russian chronicle, the Tale of Bygone Years. During that time, Rostov was governed by Rurik. By the end of the 10th century, the importance of Rostov as a principal Russian city had grown. In 991, Grand Duke Vladimir of Kiev arrived in Rostov with four bishops and the commander of Dobrynia to baptise local residents in the waters of Lake Nero. But while Christianity was adopted by a small section of the city's inhabitants, the majority remained pagan. The first bishops, the Greeks Theodore and Hilarion, were even forced to leave the city because of the hostile attitude of those who remained true to the old faith. There were many princes in Rostov. The first of them was Yuri Dolgoruky, the son of Vladimir Monomakh. Under his reign, the lands of the Rostov principality expanded considerably. The city developed rapidly, and from the 11th century, it became the central city of north-eastern Russia. Yuri Dolgoruky transferred the capital to Suzdal in 1125. He strengthened the old cities and founded new ones (Yuryev-Polsky, Dmitrov, Konstantinov). After his death, the principality passed to his son, Andrei. Andrei Yuryevich, known as Andrei Bogolyubsky, became Grand Duke of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality. He began to build the Assumption Cathedral here. The relics of many saints were found in Rostov, as it became a religious centre. After the death of Andrei, the prince's table was taken by his brother, Vsevolod. The next prince in Rostov was Constantine, the son of Vsevolod. After the death of Constantine in 1219, the Rostov Principality was divided into three separate parts: Rostov, Yaroslavl and Uglich. In 1237, the Horde of Khan Baty invaded Russia. In the early 17th century, the Polish and Lithuanian interventionists burned Rostov. Later, the city was strengthened with new fortifications. Both revolutions of 1917 were relatively bloodless and calm for the city.
In the 19th century, Rostov was famous for its historical and architectural heritage. A change in attitudes towards Rostov’s monuments occurred in the late 1920s, however. In early 1929, many churches and monasteries were dismantled and destroyed, and their bricks sold. By the beginning of the 20th century, a number of factories had been built in the city, and the historical monuments were restored.

Where to Stay

The best place to stay is on the shores of Lake Nero. Try the Guest House near Nero Lake, which features a garden and barbeque facilities. Another place near the lake is Selivanov Hotel with its classically furnished rooms, a pool, a sauna and a good restaurant with Russian and European cuisine. Hotel Na Pogrebakh is located within the territory of the Kremlin, so you can feel like a medieval prince. Russkoe Podvorie is in an 18th-century building in the heart of the city.

Bars and Restaurants

At Russkoe Podvorie, you will find a medieval Russian menu containing turnips, mushrooms and a wide selection of porridge. Appetit is a chilled-out café featuring Russian cuisine, soups and salads. At Café Alaverdy, you can try Georgian dishes like khachapuri (cheese pie), khinkali (dumplings) or enjoy fabulous Georgian wines. Locals and tourists also recommend visiting Alyosha Popovich, Sobraniye, Shchuchy Dvor or Pokrovskie Vorota. Value-for-money places include Zolotye Kuvshini or Trapeznaya Palata.

What to See


  • The Kremlin, dating back to the 17th century, is the main attraction of Rostov the Great. In fact, the Kremlin is a complex of buildings surrounded by a wall. In the 17th century, Russian cities required fortress defences. The Kremlin served as a place of concentration of city power. Here was the residence of the metropolitan and visiting Russian tsars. The architecture of the Kremlin is Old Russian.
  • The Assumption Cathedral is the main temple within the Kremlin, built in the 16th century using a similar design to the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. The height of the building is 60 m. Nearby, there is a belfry with 15 unique bells.
  • The Spaso-Yakovlevsky Monastery is another attraction in Rostov located some way from the Kremlin, in the south-western part of the city. It dates back to the 14th century. There are several religious buildings in the area: Zachatievsky Cathedral (17th century), Dmitrievsky Cathedral (18th-19th centuries) and Yakovlevskaya church (19th century).
  • The Epiphany Avraamiev Monastery is one of the most ancient monasteries which was first mentioned in the second half of the 13th century. Abraham prayed for the Christianisation of this land, and John the Evangelist appeared to him. When Ivan the Terrible waged a campaign against Kazan, he stopped at Abraham's monastery and prayed. Kazan was taken, and the Tsar built the cathedral of the Epiphany of the Lord. In the Soviet era, the monastery was closed.
  • The Trinity-Sergiev Varnitsky Monastery was constructed in the 15th century in honour ofSergius of Radonezh who, according to legend, was born here. Today, it is a working monastery for men.
  • The Church of St Nicholas in Vspilye was built at the beginning of the 19th century on the site of a former wooden church.
  • The Church of Cosmas and Damian was built in the second half of the 18th century. During Soviet times, it was closed.
  • The Church of St John the Divine (17th century) is 2 km from Rostov. It is visible from the road. One legend says that the church came out of the water and stood on this place.

Historical facts say that it was built on the order of the Archimandrite of the Avraamievsky Monastery.

  • The Church of the Saviour on the Sands used to be part of the Saviour-Pesotsky Monastery. The monastery was closed in the 18th century, and only one church remains of the whole complex.
  • The Tolga Church is a one-domed church from the 18th century. Inside, you can see icons from the 14th-16th centuries. The Tolga Church is one of two churches in Rostov which continued to function even during the Soviet period.
  • Borisoglebsky Monastery is located 18 km from Rostov in the village of Borisoglebsky. It was founded in 1363 by Fyodor and Pavel, two Novgorodian monks. At first, the monastery was made of wood, but at the beginning of the 16th century, it was rebuilt in stone. At this time, the Borisoglebsky Monastery became a serious landowner. Many Russian tsars invested a lot of money in the monastery. In 1924, it was turned into a museum.



Rostov Veliky is a small city with a railway station and a bus station. The city has very good transport connections with Yarolsavl, Moscow and other Russian towns. Within the city, you can use a taxi or a bus. Rostov Veliky Railway Station is just 1 km from the historical centre. When you buy a train ticket, make sure you get the right Rostov: in Russia, there are two cities with similar names – Rostov Veliky and Rostov-on-Don, which is a port city and the administrative centre of the Southern Federal District of Russia.