Assumption Cathedral

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Set dramatically high above the Klyazma River, this simple but majestic piece of pre-Mongol architecture is the legacy of Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky, the man who began shifting power from Kyiv to northeastern Rus (which eventually evolved into Muscovy). A white-stone version of Kyiv’s brick Byzantine churches, the cathedral was constructed from 1158 to 1160, though it was rebuilt and expanded after a fire in 1185. It was added to Unesco's World Heritage List in 1992.

The seat of the Vladimir and Suzdal diocese, the cathedral has held services for its entire history except from 1927 to 1944. The cool, hushed interior is a riot of gold leaf – the baroque iconostasis was constructed with a donation from Catherine the Great. A few restored 12th-century murals of peacocks and prophets can be seen about halfway up the inner wall of the outer north aisle (originally an outside wall); the real treasures, though, are the Last Judgement frescoes by Andrei Rublyov and Daniil Chyorny, painted in 1408 in the central nave and inner south aisle (under the choir gallery towards the western end).

Comply with the standard church dress code (no shorts for men; covered head and long skirts for women) at all times and be especially mindful of people's sensitivities outside the designated 'tourist time'. Tickets can be purchased at the small kiosk in the courtyard to the right of the cathedral.

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