Yaroslavl is the largest and oldest (founded 1010) city on the Golden Ring, a fact underscored by its place of honour on the Russian 1000-rouble note (including the 15-domed church of John the Baptist on the back). 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. This religious zeal dates back to the times of Kyivan Rus, when the town was founded by Prince Yaroslav to guard his realm’s northeastern flank.
Most of the churches and houses gracing the quaint, Unesco-listed historic city centre, however, were built by rich merchants in the 17th to 19th centuries, competing to out do one other in beautifying their city. Thankfully, much of that beauty has remained unscathed by Soviet development.