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Hello, Kostroma!

Things to do in the heart of The Golden Ring of Russia

If you turn around on the "frying pan" (the nickname of the central square of old Kostroma), and then go around the shopping arcade and down Molochnaya Hill to the river Volga, turn left, walk to Ostrovsky's gazebo and then up to the park - you will have seen all of the most important sights in the city. This journey can take the whole day though, if you taste Kostroma cheeses on the way, look in the linen fabrics shops, feast on Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) ice cream, soothe your skin "burned" by nettles that sticks out from behind a fence on the embankment, and glance at passenger boats from the pier. I will tell you what to do in Kostroma.

Everything in Kostroma begins with the "frying pan" - that is what Kostroma locals call the heart of the historical center - Susaninskaya Square. Many roads diverge from here, many famous city buildings stand here: Provincial Office Places, the former guardhouse, the house of General Borshchov and, of course, the symbol of the city - the fire tower. The tower was built at the beginning of the 19th century, the building was used for its intended purpose for many years, and was even considered the best architectural example in the Russian province. Something is constantly happening in the "frying pan" - every now and then there are tents with exhibitions inside, appointments are made there, coins are thrown to the statue of "firefighter's dog" Bobka, city holiday events are held.

  • Orange fact
    Kostroma was founded in 1152. But by whom? There is not a single mention of the founders in the chronicles. According to one version the city was founded by Yuri Dolgoruky. That year the Bulgars attacked neighbouring Yaroslavl. There were no fortresses down the Volga River at that time, and it is likely that Yuri Dolgoruky, trying to strengthen his possessions in the territory of North-Eastern Russia, built a fortress. But the excavations show a different fact: people lived here long before the reign of Dolgoruky. And Kostroma is first mentioned in the chronicles only in 1213. These were notes about the Kostroma people who showed their displeasure with Prince Konstantin Vsevolodovich, who inherited the city. Well, he did not negotiate, he just burned Kostroma.

Shopping Arcade or Gostiny Dvor

The complex of buildings in the very center still has its original mission - everything can be sold or bought there. It seems that you can find a pharmacy there, a shoe store, and a cheese store. There is also a coffee shop where you can order a unique coffee, and souvenir stores full of linen… The rows were built according to a typical layout of merchant shops - each compartment is 4.5x7 meters in size and is located under the arch of the gallery. They traded on the ground floor, and stored goods in basements or on the second floor. Where they also calculated profits. In the Red Rows they offered 'Red goods' (in old Russian 'red' meant beautiful) - leather, furs, fabrics, books. There were also trifle rows, where they sold haberdashery products; and flour rows; and gingerbread, bread, fish, meat, tar and many others. In the courtyard of Gostiny Dvor there is the Saviour Church in the Trading Rows, but it is better to visit in the late afternoon, when the day's bustle subsides.

The Ipatiev Monastery 

If you go to the monastery from the other side, from the bridge over the Volga you will have wonderful views of the monastery temples. The history of the monastery starts in 1330, it was founded by the Tatar Murza Chet, the ancestor of the Godunov family. And this story was pretty popular in historical chronicles mainly from the Time of Troubles. The most valuable is the Ipatiev Chronicle, which was found in the monastery library, it tells about the history of Kievan Rus. If you hire a guide, you can hear a lot of stories about murder, betrayal and secret births. In 1609, the monastery was captured by False Dmitry II, but was recaptured by the People's militia (irregular troops). The monastic walls served not only as the "cradle of the Romanovs' house", but also as a shelter - the boyar was hiding behind them, the future Tsar Mikhail Romanov, who was saved by Susanin from being killed by the Poles and his mother, nun Martha.


It was within these walls that Mikhail was called to the throne. Many Russian rulers made pilgrimages to the Holy Trinity Ipatiev Monastery during their reigns. While walking around the monastery, you should definitely look into the five-domed Trinity Cathedral and carefully examine the unique 17th century frescoes with unusual subjects, visit the Romanov chambers (there are various exhibitions held now), pay attention to the miraculous Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God and a particle of the relics of St. Hypatius, and also a stone from the execution room of the Ipatiev house (from Yekaterinburg, where the Romanovs were killed).

Kostroma Sloboda

Behind the monastery walls, if you go along the coast towards the river’s spit, there is "Kostromskaya Sloboda" - a landscape museum-reserve, or, simply, a village of three dozen houses brought from all over the Kostroma province. The architecture is represented by a wide variety of buildings - rich merchant huts, windmills, watchtowers, baths and, of course, churches. There you can also see one of the oldest wooden churches in Central Russia - the Cathedral Church Of The Blessed Virgin Mary from the village of Holm of the 16th century; All-Merciful Savior Church of the 18th century from the village of Fominskoye and the most beautiful, in my opinion, the Transfiguration Church from the village of Spas-Vezhi of the 17th century. 


The doors of all houses are hospitably open. Inside you can see the furnishings of different centuries and different social hierarchy, examine household items: furniture, kitchen utensils. On a hot summer day, it's nice just to walk there, not even reading the signs with the names of the former homeowners. A pond with water lilies, shady groves, picturesque hills - everything was created for perfect photos with a "Russian" soul.

Kostroma Kremlin

The Kremlin that does not exist. It was completely destroyed by the Bolsheviks, when they were blowing up buildings in the ‘30s of the last century. Only small buildings, ramparts and very rich history of Kremlin remained. In the city you can see signposts leading to the Kostroma Kremlin Ensemble, but in fact, this is a park with a monument to Lenin, and two cathedrals under reconstruction - the Assumption and the Epiphany. The restoration is proceeding quite slowly, the Orthodox philanthropist Viktor Tyryshkin blames it on evil spirits that interfere with the building of new churches on the sacred site. 

Museum-estate of linen and birch bark


Well, you might expect much more from this place. In fact, there are exhibits in only two halls, but the processes that you would expect to see are hardly presented. But on the display there are newly-made birch bark handicrafts, such as the characters of the fairy tale Buratino (Russian version of Pinocchio), crooked hedgehogs and bears. In addition, the museum is not in the center of the city, you have to walk for about twenty minutes to get there. And this is one of those cases when the journey takes much longer than the viewing of the exposition.

Monument to Lenin in the Park

The sculpture of Lenin is raised so high that you have to lift your head up and look at him clinging to clouds with his bald head and pointing somewhere to a bright future with a very long hand. The pedestal for the statue seems alien. And for good reason. Initially, the pedestal was built for the Romanov family sculptures. It was supposed to place 28 figures of representatives of the imperial family. But there was a revolution, and instead of all tsars, princes and grand princesses, only one Comrade Lenin settled on the pedestal for many years. 

Monument to the galley on the Embankment

A funny monument with a smiling sun was installed in memory of the voyage of Empress Catherine II along the Volga. In May 1767, the empress arrived on an official visit to Kostroma on the flagship galley "Tver" of the rowing flotilla. She attended a service in the Ipatiev Monastery, granted 3000 rubles, and, upon learning that the province town of 'K' had no coat of arms, ordered to create it. It depicted the same royal galley, with the imperial standard on the flag. The coat of arms was subsequently modified more than once, but the galley was depicted on most versions. 

More things to do in Kostroma:

  • Look in to the Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) Residence, send someone a letter on her behalf. Or send a letter to her Terem (palace).
  • Take an excursion to BKLM -  Big Kostroma Linen Manufactory 
  • Eat soup with chanterelles at the 'Groza' (Thunderstorm) restaurant
  • Watch Ostrovsky's play at a local theatre
  • Find the Church of the Resurrection on Debra
  • Take a photo in 'the Ostrovsky’s gazebo' (who never saw it in his life)
  • Walk along Muravyovka - the iconic street of Kostroma
  • Go to the cheese museum and buy a couple of good pieces from local cheese makers at the local shop.
  • Find the monument to the Snow Maiden (on Susaninskaya Square)
  • Have a cup of coffee at the "Old pier" landing stage

How to get there:

As always, I am trying to convince you to take a road trip. It takes about 5 hours. You will pass Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov the Great, Yaroslavl. And, you can additionally stop in any of the cities of the Golden Ring!
You can get there from Moscow on the fast train ‘Kostroma', it takes more than six hours.

Where to stay: at the 'Ostrovsky' hotel.

The project "Four Seasons of Russia" is supported by the Russian Geographical Society www.rgo.ru
A trip to Semyonov is recommended by the Russian Geographical Society.

Additionally read about cities of Golden Ring of Russia:
Suzdal: to the Boyar Pancakes
Pereslavl Zalessky: The fæger of antiquity

Also read about old Russian cities:
Plyos: Exactly as it was during Levitan's Time
Velikiy Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod

Translation: Irina Romanova, Instagram: @astrabella1

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