Explore the many delights of Pereslavl Zalessky Start and end: Pereslavl Bus station Distance: about 7.5km on foot altogether.
Painters are drawn to the ancient, rural lanes of Pereslavl Zalessky with good reason. Yuri Dolgoruky – who also founded Moscow – built the earliest church and defensive ramparts in 1152. Three hours bus ride north of Moscow, this lakeside idyll makes a long day trip. There are easily sights enough to fill two days if you decide to stay overnight. This route will start you off either way, passing blossoming gardens, ancient monasteries, colourful museums and the wide lake where Peter the Great built his first fleet.
Buses leave from the bus station near Schyolkovskaya Metro roughly every hour on the hour from 9am. Tickets cost 270-odd roubles each way and sell out quite fast so make sure you arrive in good time. All the buses pass through the Losiny Ostrov National Park, where you could see an elk from the window and many of them stop half way at Sergiev Posad, where you get a good glimpse of the Lavra.
Pereslavl bus station is south of the town. The number one bus goes regularly into the centre. Walk on along the main road in the direction the bus from Moscow was heading. You will soon reach the Fyodorovsky Convent on your right with its little flowerbeds full of tulips. As soon as you enter, the monastic calm envelops you like a holy cloud. The main cathedral is under renovation, but the whitewashed Vvedeiskaya church (built in 1710) looks particularly charming with its starry, bright blue domes.
Take the next right turn off the main road and go left at the end to walk along the quieter Ulitsa Zhuravleva between wooden cottages and trees. At the far end, you reach the entrance to the arboretum. A walk here is pleasant, but only recommended if you have plenty of time. You can also detour straight on and to the right to visit the silver-domed, white-walled Troitsky Danilov Monastery, founded in 1508. Otherwise, turn left from the arboretum, cross the main road and walk straight on up the hill to the Goritksy-Uspensky Monastery. Inside the gates, you will see a monument to Yuri Dolgoruky in front of a peaceful pond with a duck island. The monastery contains the city’s historical museum with an exhibition of Russian art. In the 17th century Church of all Saints, with its scallop shell decorations, there are photos of Pereslavl a hundred years ago. You can climb the 19th century belltower for a great view over the town and lake. Return to the main road and walk left or (better) catch the number one bus from the far side of the road for three stops.
Pass through Yuri Dolgoruky’s earthen banks and get off at the next stop. Keep walking in the same direction and you soon reach the colourful museum of irons on your right. It is open seven days a week, costs 80 roubles and is a great place to buy crafts and souvenirs, even if you don’t visit Andrei Vorobyev‘s eccentric collection on the upper floor. The Nevsky café next door serves decent blinis, soup and salad. The museum of handicrafts, across the road, which is due to reopen this month after restoration, also has a shop selling Russian linen and there are souvenir stalls near the 16th century, tent-roofed Church of Peter the Metropolitan specialising in local earthenware ceramics. The jewel of the central collection of churches is the beautiful and ancient Transfiguration Cathedral. Nearby, there is a monument to the medieval prince, Alexander Nevsky, who was born in Pereslavl. Climb up the rampart beyond the cathedral and turn left along it, enjoying views on both sides. To the right, you can see the pink Pokrovsky church across the river in the old fishing quarter. Go on along the next section of bank and turn right along Ulitsa Proezdnaya, passing the colourful Church of the Sign. Go straight on along this road, which rejoins the river after the second crossroads. The muddy waters of the Trubezh are lined with painted boats and willow trees, becoming ever more idyllic as you reach Lake Plescheyevo.
Turn left past the Church of Forty Saints and walk a little way along the shore of the lake. At the end of the track, hop over a little stream into a new playground where you can follow the log path back round to the left to come out on Ulitsa Yuzhnaya. If the stream is too wide, it’s no further to go back along the lanes. Follow Ulitsa Yuzhnaya straight on to one more convent, the beautifully restored Nikoslky, with its gold-domed belltower reflected in the little pond. Skirt round the walls and turn left along Novy Bit, past a semi-dilapidated church and a row of wooden houses, to rejoin the main road opposite the new Albitsky Sad hotel and restaurant.You can catch the number one from nearby back to the bus station.
There are always taxis waiting by the bus station; if you still have time and energy, ask one of them to take you to the Peter’s Boat Museum (“muzey botik pyotra”, closed on Monday), 4km out of town. A taxi costs about 150 roubles each way. The lakeside setting, with cafes and souvenir stands, is great. From the statue of Peter the Great, there are views over the lake where he built his fleet. The last surviving boat is on view in a 19th house at the top of the hill.
Landmark - Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, Pereslavl Zalessky
Yuri Dolgoruky’s cathedral was built in 1152, making it one of the oldest buildings in Russia. The use of limestone to create fine vaulted arches and central domes advanced medieval architecture and provided a model for the church builders of Vladimir and Suzdal in the years that followed.
More riverside scenes...