White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal

Golden Gate

The Golden Gate of Vladimir, constructed between 1158 and 1164, is the only preserved ancient Russian city gate. A museum inside focuses on the history of the Mongol invasion of Russia in the 13th century. The Golden Gates existed in the holiest cities of Eastern Orthodoxy: Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Kiev. On making Vladimir his capital, Andrew the Pious aspired to emulate these structures, commissioning a lofty towe ...
Founded: 1158-1164 | Location: Vladimir, Russia

Dormition Cathedral

Dormition Cathedral or Assumption Cathedral used to be a mother church of medieval Russia in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is part of the World Heritage Site entitled White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal. The cathedral was commissioned by Andrew the Pious in his capital Vladimir and dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), whom he promoted as the patron saint of his lands. Originally erected in 1158 ...
Founded: 1158 | Location: Vladimir, Russia

Suzdal Kremlin

The Suzdal Kremlin is the oldest part of the Russian city of Suzdal, dating from the 10th century. Like other Russian Kremlins, it was originally a fortress or citadel and was the religious and administrative center of the city. It is most notably the site of the Cathedral of the Nativity. Together with several structures in the neighboring city of Vladimir, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. While archeo ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Suzdal, Russia

Cathedral of Saint Demetrius

The Cathedral of St Demetrius (1194-97) is a royal church, built to the order of Grand Prince Vsevolod III. It is cubic in form, with three internal naves and a helmet dome. The cathedral is one-domed and four-pillared. Originally it was surrounded by galleries with towers that connected it to the prince"s palace. They were demolished during the restoration in the 19th century. The church is famous for its white-sto ...
Founded: 1194-1197 | Location: Vladimir, Russia

Cathedral of the Nativity

The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Suzdal is one of the eight White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal. One of the most complex monuments of Russian medieval architecture. It was originally constructed during the reign of Vladimir II Monomakh during the late 11th century. The Cathedral of the Nativity is surrounded by a ring of earthen walls in an oxbow of Kamenka River. It is notable for being the first cit ...
Founded: 1102 | Location: Suzdal, Russia

Bogolyubovo

The Princely Castle at Bogolyubovo (1158-1165) contains the remains of the 12th century Royal Palace, in the form of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin and the Staircase Tower of Andrei Bogolyubskii. Bogolyubovo was once the residence of the Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky. Great Prince Andrei spent 17 years of his reign in Bogolyubovo before he was murdered there in 1174. After Prince Andrei"s death, Bogolyubovo ...
Founded: 1158-1165 | Location: Bogolyubovo, Russia

Saint Euthymius Monastery

The Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius was founded in the 14th century, and grew in importance in the 16th and 17th centuries after donations by Vasili III, Ivan IV and the Pozharsky family, a noble dynasty of the region. Among the buildings erected during this period were the Assumption Church, the bell tower, the surrounding walls and towers, and the seven-domed Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour. The cathe ...
Founded: 1352 | Location: Suzdal, Russia

Church of Boris and Gleb

Church of Boris and Gleb was built in 1152, on the orders of Prince Yuri Dolgoruky. It was probably part of the princely (wooden) palace complex, but was only used by Dolgorukii for a few years before he left to become Grand Prince of Kiev in 1155. The village, four kilometers east of Suzdal, was an important town before it was destroyed by the Mongols and declined in stature. The church, built in limestone probably by a ...
Founded: 1152 | Location: Kideksha, Russia

Saint George Cathedral

Saint George Cathedral in Yuryev-Polsky is one of a dozen surviving white-stone churches which were built in Vladimir-Suzdal Principality in the northeastern Rus prior to the Mongol invasion. Constructed between 1230 and 1234, the cathedral was also the last of these churches to be built, completed just three years before the invasion. Unlike most of the other pre-Mongol Vladimir-Suzdal churches, the St. George Cathedral ...
Founded: 1230-1234 | Location: Yuryev-Polsky, Russia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.