Church of the Intercession on the Nerl

Top choice church in Golden Ring

Tourists and pilgrims all flock to Bogolyubovo, just 12km northeast of Vladimir, for this perfect little jewel of a 12th-century church standing amid a flower-covered floodplain. The Church of the Intercession on the Nerl is the golden standard of Russian architecture. Apart from ideal proportions, its beauty lies in a brilliantly chosen waterside location (floods aside) and the sparing use of delicate carving.

Legend has it that Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky had the church built in memory of his favourite son, Izyaslav, who was killed in battle against the Bulgars. As with the Cathedral of St Dmitry in Vladimir, King David sits at the top of three facades, the birds and beasts entranced by his music. However, hardly anything is left of the once rich interior. If the church is closed (from October to April the opening hours are more sporadic), try asking at the house behind.

To reach this famous church, get bus 152 (R25) from the Golden Gate or Sobornaya pl in Vladimir and get off by the massive, blue-domed Bogolyubsky Monastery, which contains remnants of Prince Andrei’s palace. Walk past the monastery to Vokzalnaya ul, the first street on the right, and follow it down to the train station. Cross the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks and follow the stone path for 1km across the meadow. If driving, take the M7 east out of Vladimir until you get to the monastery, then turn right onto Vokzalnaya and park at the train station.