New Faith in Russia
Sample Itinerary: New Faith in Russia
Day 1 – MOSCOW
Arrive in the late afternoon in Moscow. Transfer and check into Hotel Izmailovo. Time to relax. Travel by Moscow Metro for marvelous first impressions of Red Square by night. Dinner in the hotel.
Day 2 – MOSCOW
Buffet breakfast. Time to visit the Moscow flea market, famous for its folk art and its folks. Lunch on your own. Afternoon travel by the famous Moscow Metro to the Dmitry Donskoi Monastery, a pilgrimage site for Orthodox believers. Attend vespers here. Dinner downtown and return to the hotel.
Day 3 – MOSCOW
Attend Divine Liturgy in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the largest in Russia, destroyed Stalin in 1931 and miraculously reconstructed in the late 1990’s. Lunch near Red Square, where we marvel at the ensemble collected here over many centuries, including St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin towers and GUM department store. Late afternoon visit to the Kremlin, Moscow’s fortress and the city’s birthplace in 1147, covering 69 acres. Visit the Armoury Museum with its stunning collection of imperial jewels and regalia. Dinner downtown, return to the hotel.
Day 4 – – Moscow – SERGIEV POSAD – ROSTOV – YAROSLAVL
The road to Yaroslavl is along the “Golden Ring of Ancient Russian Cities” including our first stop, the Holy Trinity Monastery in Sergiev Posad, for centuries the most important of all monasteries. In Sergiev Posad we’ll also have lunch, then travel on to Rostov, famous for its jewel-like Kremlin and its bells. Here we make a stop to hear the bells. Continue on to Yaroslavl, check into the Hotel Kotorosl. Dinner and a concert of folk music in the hotel with our own Deacon George.
Day 5 – YAROSLAVL ON THE VOLGA RIVER
Discover Yaroslavl, a treasure on the Golden Ring and one of Russia’s medieval cities, Especially rich in folk traditions church history and architecture. Visit the church of Elijah the Prophet. Marvel at the Yaroslavl tradition of 16th-century iconography and fresco painting. After lunch free time in the old town and the local market. Later you have the pleasure of spending this evening at home with a Russian family.
Day 6 – – YAROSLAVL – EXCURSION TO TOLGA CONVENT – OVERNIGHT TRAIN
We begin the day with a visit to the Museum of Icons, one of the best in the country. We then visit the “Yaroslavl Icon” gallery founded by Nikolai Mukhin. Here are paintings, ceramics and local handicrafts for sale. We have lunch, then travel to the Tolga Convent, where Nikolai and his “Yaroslavl Icon” painters have done extensive and wonderful work. Members of St.Gregory’s will recognize the inspiration from the murals in their own church. If time permits, on the way back to Yaroslavl, pay a visit to the 15th-century Resurrection Cathedral in Tutayev. Victor Morozov, St. Gregory’s icon painter, lives near the cathedral here with his family. Or alternate plans for the afternoon: Visit the university and participate in a roundtable discussion with students. Go for a stroll and a cup of coffee with the students who would like to show you their city. Dinner in the hotel. After dinner proceed to the railway station to board the overnight train to St. Petersburg.
Day 7 – ST. PETERSBURG
Breakfast on the train. Arrival in St. Petersburg. Transfer to Hotel Andersen, check in and freshen up. Introduction to St. Petersburg, “Venice of the North” by bus: the magnificent Church of Spilled Blood, the Admiralty, the Winter Palace, St. Isaac’s Square, the Palace Embankment of the Neva River and Nevsky Avenue. We also visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, the birthplace of the city. Here in the cathedral is the burial place of the Romanov Czars, including a special side chapel where the last remains of Nicholas II and members of his family were finally buried in 1998. Lunch is followed by some free time on the Nevsky Prospekt. Our guide will accompany those interested on an optional visit to the Russian Museum, which contains the largest collection of Russian art in the world. After dinner we enjoy a lively performance by the Nevsky Folk Ensemble.
Day 8 – ST.PETERSBURG-OVERNIGHT SHIP TO VALAAM
This morning and early afternoon we will spend ample time being dazzled by the spectacular collection of art in the Hermitage Museum taking a break for lunch in between before returning to the hotel to freshen up. Dinner, then proceed to the harbor, where we board our boat for the overnight journey to Valaam Island.
Day 9 – VALAAM MONASTARY
After breakfast on board our ship we disembark to spend the day in this miraculous place, where, “by God’s mercy,” to quote his Holiness Partiarch Alexis II, “as in times of old, pilgrims come here to draw spiritual strength for their course of life.” According to the Valaam monastery tradition, heathens once lived on Valaam worshiping Baal. The first of the disciples of Christ, the holy apostle Andrew, the First-called, enlightening Scythian and Slavic lands, left Novgorod for Valaam, where he destroyed pagan temples and raised a stone cross. The founders of the Holy-Transfiguration Valaam Monastery, saints Sergius and Herman, were Greek priest monks who had come to the Great Novgorod lands in the 10th century along with the first Orthodox missionaries. (Later St. Herman of aAlaska also lived as a monk here) During its centuries-old history, the Monastery has undergone devastation and desolation time and again, particularly brutal during Soviet times. But, by God’s mercy, every time it revived again. On Decemberer 14, 1989, a ship moored in the Great Nikon harbour with the first six monks on board and gradually monastic life started to revive. Since that day, the new history of Valaam began. Nature here is also beautiful, a walk around the island is truly invigorating. In the evening we board our ship for the journey back to St. Petersburg.
Day 10 – ST.PETERSBURG
Breakfast, then disembark our ship. This morning we attend liturgy in the Preobrazhenskaya Church. It is our firm belief that this is one of the most beautiful choirs in Russia. Lunch in the Demidov Restaurant near the church. Afternoon free. For those who would like, we will help you obtain tickets for the ballet this evening. Farewell dinner.
Day 11 – ST.PETERSBURG-FLIGHT HOME
Early transfer to the airport for the flight home.
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