The beginnings of Russian culture coincided with the birth of the Russian state in the 9th and 10th Centuries. In 989, under Prince Vladimir Svytoslavich, and as the climax of its prolonged cultural contacts with Greek Orthodox Byzantium, Russia adopted Christianity.  Prince Vladimir chose the "Greek" faith due to its beautiful liturgy and churches, which fascinated his envoys in Constantinople. Thereafter, Russia adopted a coherent system of Byzantine culture, visually embodied in the church, where all arts were brought together.

Most of Russia's ancient cities and religious landmarks are located 100 to 200 miles outside of St.Petersburg and Moscow.  During the drive to these historical structures, one can see a world of picturesque villages  stretching along river banks, including log cabins, abiding but fast disappearing evidence of traditional Russian life.

The archaic forms and auster beauty of the churches and bell-towers bear witness to a world of stern and firm religious rules.  Memories of ancient Russia survive there in a stolid city cathedral, a parish church with a tent-shaped belfry, or a monastery ensemble which looks at once like an alluring city in paradise and an impregnable and inaccessible fortress.

The abstract language of architecture was well-suited for expressing the fundamentals of Christian faith. The river banks on which cities were built, the hills, and the valleys were adorned with extraordinarily beautiful and grand churches glorifying the Creator.  Our "out-of-St. Petersburg" excursions offer ancient cities with some of the best samples of Russian church decor and architecture. The lifestyle of people in these small towns is very different from that of their counterparts living in Moscow and St. Petersburg and are both unique and very interesting to see.



Russian Orthodox St. Petersburg
Jewish St. Petersburg

Out of Town
Novgorod
Tikhvin
• Holy Trinity St. Sergius Monastery
Pskov
• Vladimir and Suzdal


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