Sacred art of Russia - Yaroslavl and the cities of Russia’s Golden Ring

Prices from £2,595


21 Jun 2020 - 27 Jun 2020
Duration: 6 nights
Ref: 20YARO
With: Dr Natalia Murray


Prices from £2,595
Single Supplement: £280
Deposit: £200

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The adoption of Christianity in Russia in 988 marked the beginning of the ancient Russian art. Throughout the 10th–17th centuries, this ancient Russian art sought to embody in itself the Christian faith and create ‘theology in colour’ by making images and the words inseparable from each other. East of Moscow lies the land of small historical towns, ancient onion-domed churches and largely unspoilt countryside, often referred to as the ‘Golden Ring of Russia’. The area was largely bypassed by 20th century modernisation – or destruction – and still feels almost rural. Our tour begins in Yaroslavl – a jewel in the Golden Ring – studded with onion domes like no other place in Russia. Our second base will be Suzdal, one of the most popular destinations on the Golden Ring, thanks to its unspoilt charm. This new Art Pursuits Abroad tour breaks slightly from the conventional APA format; although the tour will be led by expert lecturer Dr Natalia Murray, most days will begin with a very special lecture given by an additional expert in mediaeval Russian art. This is an exciting opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the history of a beautiful portion of this vast and fascinating country.


Dr. Natalia Murray is a visiting lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art and a senior curator. In 2017 she curated a major exhibition Revolution. Russian Art. 1917-1932 at the Royal Academy of Arts. Her books and articles extend across the wide field of 19-20 century Russian art, and she has featured in documentaries and BBC Radio 4 broadcasts.

DAY 1:

Morning flight from London Heathrow to Moscow Sheremetyevo. Transfer by private coach to Yaroslavl, our base for the first three nights. After some time to settle in, we regroup for a welcome dinner.

DAY 2:

A day in Yaroslavl to introduce us to some of the city’s most important sights. Our morning begins at the Sacristy of Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery. Here, Dr Mikhail Kerbikov, deputy director of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery-Museum, will lead a lecture on ‘Treasures of the Russian Sacristies’. Afterwards, we will take in five great churches of Yaroslavl during a workshop led by Dr Natalia Mironova. In the afternoon, a river cruise to the picturesque Tolgskii Monastery is a relaxing way to round off the day’s activities.

DAY 3:

This morning we visit the Ceremonial Hall of the House of the Governor of Yaroslavl, where our morning lecture ‘Decoding Russian icons’ will be given by the leading expert in Russian icons: Aleksey Fedorchuk. In the afternoon, we leave the city to visit the towns of Rostov Velikii, Borisogleb and Uglich. Rostov Velikii, is rich in ancient architecture, with many monuments dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Uglich had been the seat of a small princedom from 1218 until 1328 when the local princes sold their rights to the great prince of Moscow. Several handsome examples of old Russian architecture remain – particularly notable are the Alexeievsky monastery and the Assumption three-tented church (1628), both considered to be true gems of Russian mediaeval architecture. Return to Yaroslavl.

DAY 4:

We leave our hotel this morning for the Archbishop’s chambers, and a lecture by the head of the department of mediaeval Russian Art at the Yaroslavl Museum, Dr. Viktoria Gorshkova, on ‘Yaroslavl, Moscow and Kostroma – laboratories of the Russian style’. We then begin the journey to Suzdal, our base for the rest of the tour. En route, we stop to enjoy lunch in a beautiful restaurant with picturesque views of the River Volga, and to visit the towns of Kostroma and Plyos. Kostroma is a 12th century town on the banks of the River Volga, however Plyos, in the centre of the Golden Ring, is widely referred to as the pearl of the Volga and has long been famous for its serene atmosphere and 3km-long quay, dotted with one-story wooden and brick buildings and small boats and yachts. It is also home to the house-museum of Isaac Levitan, a prominent landscape painter of the 19th century. Continue to Suzdal and our hotel.

DAY 5:

A morning to explore charming Suzdal, the diamond in Russia’s Golden Ring. In 1864, local merchants failed to coerce the government into building the Trans-Siberian Railway through their town. As a result, Suzdal was bypassed not only by trains, but by the 20th century altogether. In the afternoon we visit Vladimir, one of the oldest Russian cities. Our visit will take in a tour of the impressive defensive fort built in 1108, the beautiful Assumption Cathedral and the famous Golden Gate. Return to Suzdal.

DAY 6:

This morning’s lecture, ‘Discovery of the “Russian Style” in the 19th century’, is led by the reader at the Yaroslavl University, Dr. Viktor Kulikov. In the afternoon, we depart Suzdal to visit the most famous centres of Russian miniature painting on black lacquer boxes: Palekh, Mstera and Kholui. Although the practice was threatened by the Bolsheviks following the October Revolution, in 1933 the Palekh Art School was founded and for the next sixty years the former icon-painters used the sacred language of icons to produce new Soviet images. We return to Suzdal, where we will enjoy a farewell dinner in the hotel restaurant in the evening.

DAY 7:

After breakfast, we transfer to Moscow Sheremetyevo airport for our return flight with British Airways to London Heathrow.


Twin/double share: £2595 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £280
Tour without flights cost: £2245 per person
Deposit: £300 per person


  • Return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Moscow Sheremetyevo
  • In Yaroslavl three nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Park Inn by Radisson
  • In Suzdal, three nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Nikolaevsky Posad
  • Private coach transfers and excursions
  • Two dinners and five lunches
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters
  • Visa assistance


British citizens and most other foreign nationals require a tourist visa. The current cost for UK nationals is around £100. This is not included in the price of the tour because you must arrange the visa yourself. Visa assistance is available, please call us for more details, or if you are unsure about the visa process.

Park Inn by Radisson Yaroslavl****

The four star Park Inn by Radisson is located with ease of access to thousands of years of history, with plentiful of options to explore the area's beautiful architecture or to venture into new landscapes.


  • Free WiFi
  • Television
  • Hair dryer
  • Climate control
  • Safe
  • Telephone
  • Tea station (upon request)


The hotel's coffee shop and centrally located lobby bar offer refreshing beverages. The on-site restaurant offers guests a traditional Bavarian experience within the heart of Yaroslavl.

Nikolaevsky Posad****

This quirky four star ‘art hotel’ complex built in the style of a merchant’s estate is located in Suzdal, in the immediate vicinity of the city's main attractions. The complex is made up of comfortable two-storey cottages with all modern amenities built on the edge of a quiet city park.


  • WiFi
  • Television
  • Air conditioning
  • Minibar
  • Tea and coffee making facilities
  • Hairdryer


At this hotel you will find an indoor pool, a well-equipped fitness centre and a sauna. Its restaurant serves gourmet meals and specializes in Russian delicacies.