Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl
Historical Centre Of The City Of Yaroslavl
Cultural Russian Federation Europe And North America Yaroslavl Oblast

The historic town of Yaroslavl with its 17th-century churches and its neoclassical radial urban plan and civic architecture is an outstanding example of the interchange of cultural and architectural influences between Western Europe and the Russian Empire, coupled with the town-planning reform ordered by Empress Catherine the Great in the whole of Russia, implemented between 1763 and 1830.

Yaroslavl is situated on the Volga at its confluence with the Kotorosl River. The origins of the city go back to the early 11th century, when there was a small wooden fortress. From the 13th century it belonged to the territory of Rostov and Yaroslavl started developing: in 1463, Yaroslavl Grand Duchy joined the powerful Moscow state. After several fires, the original wooden town was gradually rebuilt in stone, starting from the 16th century. It acquired its present-day form and structure mainly as a result of the major urban reform in 1763, ordered by Catherine the Great for the whole country. Some of the existing streets and structures were retained in this renewal process, which lasted from 1770 to the 1830s.

The site consists of the historic centre of the city, the Slobody, forming roughly a half circle with radial streets from the centre. It is essentially neoclassical in style, with harmonious and uniform streetscapes. Most residential and public buildings are two to three storeys high along wide streets and urban squares. There is a large number of churches with onion cupolas, and monastic ensembles, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries and having valuable mural paintings and iconostases.

Spassky Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries found in the Upper Volga region. It was built on the site of a pagan temple in the late 12th century. The oldest surviving buildings date from the 16th century (Cathedral of Transfiguration, Refectory, Holy Gate, Bell Tower).

The Church of the Epiphany has five cupolas, and its red-brick facades are decorated with polychrome tiles;the interior was painted in 1692-93. Other churches include the Church of St Nicholas Nadein, the Church of the Nativity, with a unique bell tower, and the Church of Elijah the Prophet, which became the focus of the classicist radial town plan of Yaroslavl.

One block away from the Volga, a main avenue runs parallel to the river, crossing the Soviet (Iliinskaya) square, which forms the focal point of the historic town. The centre area is surrounded by a boulevard forming a semicircle, Ushinsky Street, built in the 17th century immediately behind the city's defences. The boulevard crosses Volkov square, the starting point for the road to Uglich.

On the embankment of Volga, there are a number of significant neoclassical buildings, e.g. the metropolitan's residence (originally built in the 1680s), Church of Saints Elijah and Tychen, Volga Tower (a defence tower from 1685), Volga Gate (early 19th-century elevations), Ensemble of the former Governor-General's house, Deduylin house, Ensemble of the Nativity (17th century).

The focal point of the Soviet Square ensemble, built in the mid-17th to 18th centuries, is the Church of Elijah the Prophet with its rich decorations and wall paintings. The buildings of the Government Offices include some of the first construction according to the 1770 town plan built in early classical style.

Volkov Square originated as a place for small traders. In the early 19th century, a theatre was built here (first in timber, then in stone);this was replaced by a new structure in 1911, still in the neoclassical style. On the square there is also one of the remaining defence towers, St Blase Tower, built from stone after a fire in the 17th century. Ushinsky Street has a number of interesting buildings in classical style. Some of these buildings have been rebuilt or renovated towards the end of the 19th century, thus representing a variety of styles, from classicism to Rococo and neoclassical.