Embraced by two rivers, the mighty Volga and the smaller Kotorosl, Yaroslavl’s centre is dotted with onion domes like no other place in Russia. It indeed boasts a record-breaking 15-dome church. This religious zeal dates back to the times of Kyivan Rus, when the town was founded by Prince Yaroslav of Kyiv to guard his realm’s northeastern flank.
The place was then known as Bear’s Corner. According to the legend, Prince Yaroslav forced local Finno-Ugric people into Christendom by axing their totem bear, which now appears on the city’s coat of arms.
However, most churches and houses gracing the quaint city centre are products of 17th- to 19th-century merchants competing to outdo each other in beautifying their city. Much of that beauty remains unscathed by Soviet development.