Iconofile: Icons and Sacred Art



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2006 Tour of Russian Icons Itinerary: Days 1-9

Tour of Russian Icons

July 5-20, 2006
Moscow, Pskov, Novgorod, St. Petersburg and the Golden Ring

Itinerary: Days 1–8: Moscow and the Golden Ring

Reserve the Tour of Russian Icons

Route of Tour of Russian Icons

This is a specially arranged tour for a limited number of individuals. We will include private backdoor tours of workshops not open to the public. The small group size will also allow us to spend some time with Russian iconographers to discuss their technique and to view their work. The details of each individual day of the tour itinerary are subject to change, however we ensure that the cities and major destinations on this tour will not change.

Intercession (St. Basil's) Cathedral and Red Square, Moscow Kremlin
Intercession (St. Basil's) Cathedral in front of Red Square, Moscow

Day 1: Arrival in Moscow

Upon arrival in Moscow, we are transferred to our hotel in the center of the city where we leave our luggage and freshen up. We enjoy dinner and afterwards we begin our tour of "Moscow by night."


Cathedrals of the Savior, Annunciation and St. Basil in and around the Moscow Kremlin
View of three cathedrals in and around the Moscow Kremlin

Andrei Rublev's masterpiece the Trinity
Andrei Rublev's Holy Trinity at the Tretyakov State Gallery

Day 2: Moscow: Tretyakov Gallery, Savior Cathedral

We begin the morning at the Tretyakov State Gallery, one of the world’s largest museums and a treasure house of Old Russian icons from the 11th century onwards. Here we see Russia's most famous icons, such as the Vladimirskaya Mother of God by an unknown Byzantine master and the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev.

Next, we visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, recognized by the Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia, Alexey II, as the most important Russian cathedral. Founded by Tsar Alexander I to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon's forces and to honor Christ the Savior as a thanksgiving to God and to the victorious Russian army.


Daniilovsky Monastery in Moscow, residence of the Patriarch
Danilovsky Monastery in Moscow, residence of the Patriarch


Day 3: Moscow: Kremlin and Danilovsky Monastery

We begin our full day excursion with a walking tour of the Kremlin and its churches (Cathedral of the Assumption, Archangel Cathedral and Cathedral of the Annunciation), and the Red Square. We will have lunch in the Kremlin.

After lunch we visit St. Daniel's Monastery, founded in 1282 by Grand Prince Daniil, the youngest son of Alexander Nevsky, and the oldest monastery in Moscow. It is the administrative center of the Moscow Patriarchate, the residence of the Patriarch of All Russia, and an active monastery. We enjoy an evening dinner at the monastery's guest hotel. That evening we return to our hotel in Moscow.


Cathedral of the Assumption in Vladimir
Cathedral of the Assumption in Vladimir painted by Andrei Rublev

Vladimirskaya icon of the Mother of God
Vladimirskaya icon of the
Mother of God now at the Tretyakov Gallery

Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin in Suzdal
Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin in Suzdal


Day 4: Vladimir and Suzdal

After breakfast we get an early start and leave Moscow by motor coach. We begin our tour of the Golden Ring of Russian cities with our first stop in Vladimir -- the first capital of Russia. We arrive in the city to enjoy lunch at a traditional Russian-style cuisine restaurant. We begin our excursion of the city at the Golden Gate, the only existing monument of military architecture of Old Russia, and the most spectacular and imposing gate of the northeastern Russia's capital. We then head for the Cathedral of the Assumption, originally built in the center of Vladimir on the bank of the Klyazma River in 1158-1160. In September 1164, the miraculous icon of the Vladimirskaya Mother of God was brought to the cathedral. The cathedral presently has frescos of unknown 12th century painters, and the creations of Andrei Rublev, who painted frescos there in 1408. Next, we walk to the nearby Cathedral of St. Dmitry, built in 1194-1197 during the reign of Prince Vsevolod III who dedicated it to his heavenly patron, St. Demetrius of Thessalonika. 

We depart Vladimir for the neighboring city of Suzdal for a tour of the city's Kremlin surrounded by ancient ramparts of the 11th century, the Archbishop's Palace, which houses exhibits of the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum Reserve containing treasures of Suzdal's history and ancient Russian painting. We leave the city's center and drive to the Spaso-Yevfimiev Monastery (1352). The main structure of the monastery is the Cathedral of the Transfiguration (1594) built in the ancient white stone architectural style typical of Suzdal. The interior of the cathedral was decorated with frescoes by Guri Nikitin and Sila Savin, well-known artists of the 18th century. Presently, the monastery is a museum complex that accommodates several exhibits. We depart this monastery and visit the adjacent Convent of the Intercession. The convent was founded in 1364. Its structures date back to the 16th-17th centuries, and its walls to the end of the 17th century. The crypt of the Cathedral of the Intercession contains the tombs of royal and high-ranking women banished to the convent. Alexandra, daughter of Ivan III; Solomonia Saburova, wife of Vasily III; Anna Vasilchikova, wife of Ivan IV (the Terrible) were buried here. Evdokia Lopukhina -- first wife of Peter the Great -- spent 19 years of her life in the convent. In the evening we return to our hotel in Vladimir for dinner and rest.


Palekh miniature lacquer painting
Palekh miniature lacquer painting

Ipatyevsky Monastery in Kostroma
Ipatyevsky Monastery in Kostroma


Day 5: Palekh and Kostroma

In the morning, we head out for Palekh -- the famous center of Russian miniature lacquer painting. Our first stop is the Memorial Museum of Ivan Golikov, the founder of modern Palekh lacquer painting. Next, we visit an icon-painting workshop, where we can see master iconographers of the Palekh-Friashky style of icon painting. Before leaving for our next destination, we shop for lacquer miniature paintings, icons and other local art.

Departing Palekh, we drive through some of the most beautiful pastoral countryside in Russia, arriving in Kostroma by the afternoon. We visit the city's central square and shopping arcade on the banks of the Volga River. We spend the evening in this gem along Russia's mightiest rivers -- the Volga. We have dinner in Kostroma and that evening retire to our hotel.


Aerial view of the Savior Monastery in Yaroslavl
Aerial view of the Savior Monastery in Yaroslavl

17th century Church of St. Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl
17th century Church of St. Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl


Day 6: Yaroslavl

In the early morning we visit the city's main attraction -- the Ipatyevsky Monastery. From this monastery Mikhail Romanov, the first of the Romanov dynasty, was called to become tsar of Russia. 

After lunch we leave Kostroma for Yaroslavl, one of the oldest Russian cities founded in 1010 by Prince Yaroslavl the Wise. Situated at the spot where the Kotorosl river flows into the Volga, Yaroslavl is famous for its remarkable architectural monuments, and for this reason is known as the "Russian Florence." We visit the oldest church in Yaroslavl, the 16th century Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in the Savior Monastery and afterwards drive to nearby Church of St. Elijah the Prophet of the 17th century. We examine hundreds of icons and frescos of the Yaroslavl School: A unique mixture of influences from the Moscow school and other traditions. After dinner we go to our hotel in Yaroslavl for the night.


Tolgskaya icon of the Mother of God
Miraculous Tolgskaya icon of the Mother of God


Day 7: Yaroslavl

In the morning, we visit the Yaroslavl Art Museum for a private tour at the former Metropolitan's residence on the bank of the Volga. Here is the location of the miracle-working Tolgskaya icon of the Mother of God and over 200 other icons from the 13th through the 19th centuries. Next, we visit the Kovcheg Icon Painting Workshop, founded by Anton and Julia Belov specializing in icons of the Yaroslavl School, and part of the workshops of the Patriarchy.

After lunch we visit the Muhin Art Workshop, one of the artists of the monumental wall paintings in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. We next visit three important churches of the 17th century: Church of the Nativity (1644), Church of the Epiphany (1693), and Church of John the Baptist (1687). The value of these churches is not only for their excellent examples of Yaroslavl architecture, but their wall paintings executed by masters of the 17th century. We return to our hotel in Yaroslavl for the night.


Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalesky
Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalesky

Sergiev Posad Lavra
The Monastery of Sergiev Posad where Andrei Rublev painted frescos with Danila Chorny


Day 8: Pereslavl-Zalessky and Sergiev Posad (Zagorsk)

We leave Yaroslavl early morning and set out through the Russian countryside for Pereslavl-Zalessky located on the shores of lake Pleshcheevo at the mouth of the Trubezh River. We first explore the city's Red Square near ancient earthen ramparts. Nearby, stands a building, which is as old as the town itself, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior, built in 1152-57. Situated 40 meters above Lake Pleshcheevo and overlooking the city is Goritsky Monastery of the 16th to 18th centuries. We enter the monastery through its lavishly decorated Holy Gate, visit the Pereslavl History and Art Museum, and explore the seven-dome Cathedral of the Assumption to see its gilded five-tier iconostasis (1759), one of the most outstanding examples of Russian Baroque.

After lunch we leave Pereslavl for the town Sergiev Posad, a settlement around the Trinity Sergiev Monastery founded in the 14th century by Saint Sergy Radonezhsky. We explore Russia's largest monastery, which was given the title lavra in 1774 -- a monastery of the highest rank. We visit the oldest structure in the monastery -- the Trinity Cathedral built in 1422 with its frescos painted by icon painters Andrei Rublev and Daniel Chorny.

We enjoy a feast of traditional Russian cuisine across from the main gate of monastery before returning to Moscow. In the evening we return to the nation's capitol and proceed to the Leningradsky train station. There we board an overnight express train with first class accommodations to Novgorod.


Itinerary: Days 9-16 of the Tour of Russian Icons

The tour price includes all accommodations, all meals, ground transportation in Russia, transfers, as well as admission to museums, churches and monasteries. Tours will be accompanied by English-speaking guides, and include private tours of some museums and icon workshops not available to tourists. There will be some free time for independent activities, such as shopping and other sightseeing. Iconofile will also arrange for discussions with experts while touring cities of Russia.

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Travel on the Iconofile Tour of Russian Icons arranged through Viaduk Tour