Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery dates back to the 13th century. It was destroyed by fire in 1501, and the monastery as you see it today was mostly built in the 16th century. For centuries it was one of the biggest monasteries in Russia and by 1764 it owned vast amounts of land and had some 14,000 serfs. Almost every Tsar in history visited the monastery and it was behind its formidable walls that Minin and Pozharsky prepared their citizen’s army before sailing down the Volga to help defeat the Poles.
At the centre of the monastery is the large fresco covered cathedral and a bell tower which you can climb up to get great views over the river. The various buildings and towers of the monastery host a series of exhibitions about the region and there are also various souvenir stalls and tea stands dotted around. The most interesting museums are the Treasures of Yaroslavl with its wealth of gold, silver and previous jewels and the collection of ancient Russian art and icons.
There’s also a museum of local history which deals with the history of Yaroslavl from the 13th Century and features numerous portraits and sketches, artifacts from local archaeological digs and most impressively a large 18th Century French carriage. A museum of local nature presents the flora and fauna found around the Volga and may entertain more specific interests, while the museum of Russian epic literature is even more niche.
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.