Just before entering the city of Ростов Великий (Rostov the Great) (190 km northeast of Moscow) the beauty of озеро Неро (lake Nero) welcomes amazed travellers, offering them a wonderful panorama of the numerous domed churches spread in this ancient city. From here the town seems like a quiet sleepy village just out of a fairy tale.
People have settled along the shores of its waters rich in fish for a very long time. Archaeologists находят подтверждение (have found evidence) that Finno-Ugric and Slavic tribes coexisted side by side in the first millennium BC.
The first mention of the city in the Russian Chronicle dates back from 862. Bо время правления князя Юрия Долгорукого (during the reign of Prince Dolgoruky), in the XII – XIII century, the prosperous city has experienced a great political and economic development. It was then, the capital of the Rostov-Suzdal principality.
Within the city, the construction of stone buildings was actively carried out. A large library was soon created to shelter the flourishing original literary work. Rostov quickly emerged as one of the richest and largest cities of the ancient Russia, and became known as Ростов Великий (Rostov the Great).
In 1237, the development of the town was interrupted by the invasion of the Tatars. In 1332 the destroyed, weakened city passed under the submission of the principality of Moscow. The city was looted and destroyed for the second time during the Polish-Lithuanian invasion in 1608.
Rostov is one of the first cities in Russia принять христианство (to embrace Christianity) at the end of the tenth century. By the second half of XIV century, several large monasteries have been implanted around Rostov.
Though Rostov had lost its economic and political importance, it nevertheless became a important centre of Russian Orthodox Church, and remained so until the end of the XVIII century. Although in guidebooks Rostov is refered as Ростовским кремлём (The Kremlin of Rostov, the citadel of Rostov), it was actually the residence of the Metropolitan.
Rostov is now a major touristic site, a must for anyone visiting the cities of the Golden Ring. The majority of its surprising architecture dates back from the XVII century, but the city has also preserved traces of the changes по приказу Екатерины II (ordered by Catherine II) in the XVIII century. The merchants’ two-story houses with shops on the ground floor and living quarters on the first is really worth a visit.