Rybinsk (Рыбинск) is the second largest city in the Yaroslavl oblast. It lies at the confluence of the Volga Sheksna rivers. According to the recent 2010 census, it has a population of just over 200,000. It is served by Rybinsk Staroselye airport and Rybinsk passenger station. The town is 370km north-east of Moscow and 80km north-east of Yaroslavl.
In Yaroslavl the average temperature in January is -11.2 C (11.84 F); in July it is -+17.5 C (63.5 F).
The history of Yaroslavl begins with the legend of the Prince of Rostov Yaroslav I the Wise who fought with a bear at the confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosl Rivers, where the pagan settlement of Medvezhy Ugol (English: Bear Corner) stood prior to the arrival of the Slavs. A symbolic stone now stands on this spot and bears the inscription “Yaroslav the Wise founded Yaroslavl here in 1010”.
Inhabitants of Yaroslavl call their city Volzhsky Pervograd (English: the first city on the Volga). The start of the 11th century is regarded as the birth of the city, when Prince Yaroslav founded a small fortress as an outpost on the steep right bank of the Volga by the Kotorosl confluence which flows into the Volga River in order to defend Rostov Veliky. An ancient legend recounts that at this location called Medvezhy Ugol there was a pagan settlement which worshipped a she-bear. When the prince and his band of men arrived at Medvezhy Ugol, its dwellers released the she-bear from its cage. Yaroslav slew the bear with his poleaxe and stationed a fortress on the very site. This poetic legend is displayed in the city’s coat of arms: On the background of a silver shield, a bear stands on its hind legs holding a golden poleaxe. The city was part of the Rostov-Suzdal Principality until 1218 when it became the capital of the Principality of Yaroslavl. Construction of stone houses and churches commenced and the foundations of the Spassky Monastery were laid. Further growth of the city was interrupted in 1238 by the invasion of the hordes of Batu, but the inhabitants of Yaroslavl did not surrender and rose in rebellion against the enemy several times. Under the banner of Aleksandr Nevsky the inhabitants of Yaroslavl fought in the Battle of the Ice and under the command of Dmitry Donskoy they fought in the Battle of Kulikovo where their brigades battled on the left flank of the Russian troops. In 1463, Yaroslavl became part of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. In the following centuries the city’s status as a trading centre grew. In Yaroslavl, trading routes from the lower reaches of the Volga and Western Europe via Arkhangelsk converged. Yaroslavl artisans became famous for their handicrafts: silverware and copperware, printed fabrics.
The history of Yaroslavl is inseparably linked with the history of all of the Russian state. Yaroslavl’s inhabitants courageously battled against the Tatar-Mongol oppressors and their brigades stood on the left flank of Dmitry Donskoy’s troops.
At the start of the 17th century, during the period of battles against the Polish-Lithuanian intervention in 1612, Yaroslavl accommodated the People’s Volunteer Army commanded by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky.
For several months the city was the capital of Russia.
Yaroslavl was where the first public notational theatre opened and the first provincial magazine was published. The Tale of Igor's Campaign was discovered in the city, which also houses 2 of the 20 oldest icons in the world. In 1927, Vladimir Mayakovsky named Yaroslavl the ‘city of oil, mill and textile workers.’ Yet in 1935, Igor Grabar called it the ‘city of giant heavy industry, chemical and engineering factories.’
The Yaroslavl Region was home to the naval commanders Grigory Spiridov and Fyodor Ushakov. Inhabitants of Yaroslavl contributed heroic pages to the chronicles of valiant deeds of the Great Patriotic War (the Eastern Front of World War II). Yaroslavl was the home of distinguished soldiers such as the Marshals of the Soviet Union Vasily Blücher and Fyodor Tolbukhin, Army Generals Pavel Batov, Fyodor Kharitonov and others. The Yaroslavl Region was the native land of the great Russian poet Nikolay Nekrasov. The works of Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Ivan Surikov, Leonid Trefolev and Konstantin Ushinsky are closely linked with the Yaroslavl Region.
In the Soviet era the government designated Yaroslavl as a city of science. In the city, the first Soviet dump trucks, trolleybuses, and diesel motors were manufactured, and the first synthetic rubber plant was opened. Modern Yaroslavl has a population of over 610,000 and is the largest industrial and cultural centre in the Upper Volga Region.
Places of Interest
Yaroslavl is considered one of the most interesting cities in Russia due to its large number of historical monuments, traditional Russian churches and places of interest and is rightly considered the capital of the Golden Ring of Russia. The city centre is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is the home of 785 historical and cultural monuments.
Yaroslavl is linked with a number of famous people: Fyodor Volkov, the founder the first Russian theatre; the poets Nikolay Nekrasov, Leonid Trefolev and Maksim Bogdanovich; opera singer Leonid Sobinov, composer Sergei Lyapunov and the Oscar winning animator, Aleksandr Petrov.
There is a church on every corner in Yaroslavl. Women should take note that they will be expected to cover their heads and shoulders in working churches (and this applies to anywhere in Russia).
Pictures from left to right
1) The Church of Ilya Prorok (Elijah the Prophet) is a pearl of 17th century Russian architecture which was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
2) Spaso-Preobrazhensky (Transfiguration of the Saviour) Monastery is the centre and the heart of Yaroslavl. The Transfiguration Monastery (often known as the Kremlin), contains some of the city's oldest buildings and museums of the town's history, old Russian art and the town's pet bear.
3) The Volga Embankment.
Pictures from left to right
1) The Tolga Monastery, which was built in the 14th century is one of the most famous monasteries in Russia. In Tolga, just across the Volga (no joke!) there’s a working women’s monastery with several refurbished churches, where visitors are also welcome. In cold winters it’s possible to walk across the river to get there; in summer there’s a ferry. Otherwise, take Bus 21 leaving from Красная площадь.
2) Interior of a typical Yaroslavl church.
3) The Yaroslavl Railway Bridge was the first bridge over the Volga which connected central and northern Russia at the start of the 20th century.
The addresses and telephone numbers of the main places of interest in the city can be found at the following website:
http://www.city-yar.ru/home/tourism/resyrs.html (in Russian)
Things to Do
Sport and Leisure
The stadium of the local football team, Шинник Ярославль, is situated on площадь Труда. Шинник is consistently one of the worst teams in Russia, but going to matches can be a fun way to spend some time outdoors.
The ice-hockey team, Локомотив Ярославль, is one of the best in Russia and won the Russian Championship in 2003.
There are three swimming pools, and plenty of banyas and gyms everywhere. And there’s also a men’s boxing club!
There is a bowling alley and a pool hall. For tennis there are five very high quality tennis courts situated on the Volga embankment, about five minutes’ walk from Советская площадь. There is a nice little cafe that serves refreshments on the pavilion overlooking the tennis courts. Unfortunately, you cannot hire tennis rackets, you have to bring your own.
Belkino, outside of central Yaroslavl, is a winter sports place for sledging, skiing, etc. that has been mentioned by students in the past.
There are lots of museums along the river bank, of which the Museum of Music and Time and the Museum of the History of Yaroslavl both deserve a mention.
The Некрасов museum is worth the short trip out of Yaroslavl centre as well.
The Exhibition Hall (Выставочный зал) on ул. Максимова often has work by local, contemporary artists.
The Concert Hall on ул. Максимова puts on a varied programme of mostly, but not exclusively, classical music, sometimes with performances from famous visiting artists.
The largest western-style cinema you’ll find in Yaroslavl is Родина on ул. Республиканская. Otherwise, the cinema Волга is on the number 1 tram route, which you can catch near McDonalds (about seven stops, past the Shinnik stadium). There’s also Победы, found on ул. Трыфанова.
Yaroslavl also has a Catholic Church, located at проспект Толбухина 43, and a mosque not far from ул. Некрасовa, where they sometimes even offer Arabic lessons.
Two holidays on the Yaroslavl calendar are events reported by students in the past to be worth taking part in: the Главная Масленица страны- a holiday in February to mark the coming of spring; eating lots of блины is the way the holiday is celebrated- and the День города- the city’s birthday, celebrated the last weekend in May.
Getting there and away
Trains from Yaroslavl to Moscow leave from Ярославский главний вокзал (take trolleybus number 1 from the centre to the last stop). You can buy intercity or international tickets from the older building at the station. On most days there are two электрички from Yaroslavl to Moscow, and a variety of other trains passing through that are destined for the capital. The train ride is about four or five hours.