Study Tour of Russian Orthodoxy
Sample Itinerary: Study Tour of Russian Orthodoxy
Day 1 – MOSCOW
Arrive in Moscow late afternoon. Transfer to hotel in the heart of Moscow. After dinner, lecture on the Russian Orthodox Church. Take an evening walk on Red Square to marvel at St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin walls lit up against the night sky. Standing here, listening to tales of czarinas, boyars and commissars, one imagines the scenes of intrigue and pageantry that have taken place over many centuries.
Day 2 – MOSCOW
After breakfast, walk to Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral on Red Square or to the Christ the Saviour Cathedral to attend the Orthodox Liturgy. Take time to visit the historical exhibits in the Cathedral Museum in order to appreciate how this cathedral, the largest in Russia, was wondrously reconstructed from 1995 to 2000 after being destroyed by Stalin in 1931. After lunch we go inside the Kremlin, Moscow’s fortress and birthplace of the city in 1147, covering 69 acres. See the Dormition Cathedral, site of the coronation of all Russian czars. Visit the Aromoury Museum with its stunning collection of imperial jewels and regalia. This evening you’ll have the option of attending an opera or ballet in one of Moscow’s theaters of great musical tradition. Dinner after the theater.
Day 3 – MOSCOW-SERGIEV POSAD-YAROSLAVL
Travel 70 kilometers from Moscow to Sergiev Posad. The Holy Trinity Monastery here has been the “Vatican of Russia” for 600 years. We will have a tour of the monastery and lunch nearby. The town of Sergiev Posad is, like the other cities you’ll visit on this trip, on the “Golden Ring of Medieval Russian Cities.” They circle Moscow like a strand of beautiful pearls. After lunch we continue along the Golden Ring through villages and towns that still whisper of past glories. One such town is Rostov, famous for its jewel-like Kremlin and its bells. Late afternoon arrival in Yaroslavl on the Volga River, a brilliant jewel on the Golden Ring. We check into the Hotel Kotorosl. Dinner is at the Rus Restaurant, where you’ll enjoy distinctive Georgian cuisine and live music.
Day 4 – YAROSLAVL
Discover this city founded by Prince Yaroslav the Wise in 1010, a city with proud traditions. When Moscow was seized by Polish invaders in the 17th century, the Russian capital was moved here. The wealthy merchants had a pious tradition of building churches to protect their souls…and their wares! Our morning program includes the Church of Elijah the Prophet and the excellent Museum of Applied Arts and Iconography, located in the Transfiguration Monastery. After lunch you can see how contemporary artists are developing the local traditions, especially icon painting, enamel jewelry and ceramics. This evening you will be taken (in twos and threes) by Russian families for dinner and the evening in their homes.
Day 5 – KOSTROMA
An hour’s drive brings us to the city of Kostroma, also on the Volga River and also a treasure of the Golden Ring. Kostroma has the added distinction of being the “Cradle of the Romanov Dynasty”, which ruled Russia from 1613 to 1917. The pride of Kostroma is the Ipatiev Monastery with its 16th-century cathedral and the Romanov Museum, founded in 1993, the only museum in the world devoted to Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia, and his family. In addition to being shown the city, you’ll have time on your own to browse and perhaps buy some fine linen manufactured here. Dinner in the hotel followed by an energetic performance of folk singing and dancing.
Day 6 – KOSTROMA-PALEKH-IVANOVO
Morning drive through the Russian countryside to the humble village of Palekh, home of the most famous school of lacquer miniature painting. For centuries, Palekh iconographers were widely respected and developed a distinctive style. After the revolution of 1917, the icon painters’ workshops were closed, and the artists began to paint using fairytale, nature, even political themes. They produced plaques, pins, boxes, jewelry, even furniture. Since the 1990’s they’re painting icons again. We’ll have lunch here, learn about their art in the local museum and visit the local church, which is being restored. On our way to Ivanovo we stop at the monastery to which the Church of Our Saviour in The Hague has generously contributed. We check into our guesthouse outside Ivanovo where we are joined for dinner by Russian guests from the university and a local parish.
Day 7 – IVANOVO-SUZDAL-MOSCOW
Ivanovo was the country’s leading textile center. It was also the first city to establish a soviet workers’ council in 1905 and was long seen as a showplace of communist thinking “in action.” Today, with idle mills and a failed ideology, it is a city in search of itself and a future. We’ll see the “Red Church” which was saved from demolition in 1989 by a hunger strike of determinedlocal believers before continuing on to Suzdal, another mecca for lovers of church architecture and appplied arts. Dating back to 1024, Suzdal was a great center of church life for centuries. Among its many monasteries and convents is the Pokrovskoe Convent, where noble ladies and czarinas were banished upon the command, “Get thee to a nunnery!” either for failing to produce an heir or simply for not pleasing their czar husbands anymore. We will tour Suzdal’s most beautiful sites, have lunch and then travel on to Moscow. We check into the Hotel Izmailovo for dinner and overnight.
Day 8 – MOSCOW
After breakfast visit the Izmailovsky Flea Market, famous for its folk art and and its folks, only 3 minutes from our hotel. Lunch in the hotel. Travel by bus to the Russian Museum, where we encounter centuries of Russian life through the eyes and brush strokes of her artists, beginning with iconographers of the 11th century. Enjoy a special private concert, “The World of Russian Music”. Singers and instrumentalists will perform music of Russian composers, highlighting that special art song, the Russian romance.
Day 9 – MOSCOW
After breakfast, pack the bus for the journey home. Stop at the Yelokhovskaya Church (with a truly fine choir) to attend part of the Divine Liturgy. Afterwards, transfer to Sheremetevo Airport for the flight home.
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