Город Ярославль (the city of Yaroslavl) was named after its founder, великого князя Ярослава Мудрого (the Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise). It was founded in the early XI century, at the confluence of the Volga river and the Kotorosl river, an exceptional geographical location that affected the historical destiny of the city.
During Смутное время (the Time of troubles), a terrible moment for the whole country, when Moscow was between the hands of the Polish-Lithuanian invaders, Yaroslavl became the capital of Russia for six months. Народное ополчение (the people’s volunteer corps) that was formed in the city under the command of Minin and Pozharsky played a crucial role in the liberation of Moscow and the whole country. Currently, Yaroslavl is still one of the major industrial centres of Russia.
By the XVII century, a special architectural and painting school was opened in Yaroslavl. Строители, иконописцы и колокольных дел мастера (builders, icon painters and bell masters) who studied there were praised all over the country. Works, created by those masters can be seen in many Russian cities.
By that time, 46 churches were already built in Yaroslavl, and at the beginning of the XX century, before the revolution, there were 140 of them. In Soviet times, many of them were closed down, demolished or converted to other purposes. However, even now, a week is hardly enough to discover all the monuments of the city.
One of the most famous monuments in Yaroslavl is Спасский монастырь (the Savior Monastery), founded in the XII century. The central part of this ensemble is Спасо-Преображенский собор (the Transfiguration Cathedral) (1503-1516) with frescoes of the XVI century. The monastery is also famous for the discovery of a list of ancient work of Russian literature “Слово о полку Игореве” (The tale of Igor’s campaign) in its library.
The most striking monument of the XVII century is церковь Ильи Пророка (the Church of Elijah the Prophet). It was built in the centre of the estate by order of rich merchants, dealers in furs. Although the architecture of the church is worth looking at, the major interest resides in the frescoes made by a team of masters from the nearby town of Kostroma.
Yaroslavl is also the home to первого в России профессионального театра (the first Russian professional theater). Its founder was a resident of the city, Фёдор Волков (Fyodor Volkov). The first performance of this theatre was held in June 29, 1750. The State Drama Theatre is very popular and its troupe, even now is one of the best in the country. On the main square, in from of the theatre stands a monument to its founder Fyodor Volkov.