Proposal of services
Moscow - Suzdal - St Petersburg - Novgorod
11 nights/12 days

Itineray in brief

Day 1
• PM: Arrive Moscow, meet by ES guide. Transfer to the hotel.
• O/N: Moscow

Day 2. TRANSPORT & GUIDE 09:30-17:30
• AM: Kremlin, 2 cathedrals , Armoury, Diamond Fund
• Lunch: City restaurant
• PM: Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, Romanov’s Chambers and Moscow Archaeological museum.
• O/N: Moscow

Day 3
• AM: City tour, Novodevichy Convent, metro ride. Visit to the excavation site in the center of Moscow
• Lunch: City restaurant
• PM: Tretiakov Gallery, icon exhibition. Private concert at the St Nickols Cathedral
• O/N: Moscow

Day 4
• AM: Drive to Sergiev Posad, St Sergius Lavra, Pereslavl Zalessky
• Lunch: Local restaurant
• PM: Driv to Yuriev Polsky, St Georgius Cathedral. Drive to Suzdal.
• O/N: Suzdal

Day 5
• AM: Kremlin, Icon Exhibition, Nativity Church.
• Lunch: Local restaurant
• PM: Vladimir, Assumption Cathedra. St Dmitrius Cathedral
• O/N: Suzdal

Day 6
• AM: Spaso-Evfinmievsky Monastery, drive to Moscow. Visit Galina’s Dacha - Russian historical private estate
• Lunch: Galina’s Dacha
• PM: drive to Moscow
• Dinner: in the city
•O/N: overnight train to StPetersburg

Day 7
• AM: Hermitage
Option: Lecture on archaeology by a Hermitage Curator
• Lunch: City restaurant
• PM: City tour, Peter & Paul fortress

Day 8
• AM: Hydrofoil to Peterhof, Grand palace and parks
• Lunch: Galleryt
• PM: Russian museum

Day 9
• AM: Pushkin, Catherine’s palace and parks, Amber room. Visit to restoration shop
• Lunch: Podvorie
• PM: Pavlovsk
Option: Visit the Mariinsky (Kirov) theatre

Day 10
• AM: Drive to Staraya Ladoga. St Georgius Cathedral. Local historical museum.
Option: Meeting with a local archaeologist
• Lunch: Picnic from the hotel
• PM: Drive to Novgorod
• O/N: Beresta hotel

Day 11
• AM: City tour, Yaroslavov Dvor, Kremlin, history museum
• Lunch: Local restaurant
• PM: Yuriev Monastery, Troitsky excavation

Day 12
• AM: Medieval churches
• Lunch: Picnic
• PM: drive to St Petersburg. Departure.


Detailed itinerary

Arrive Moscow, transfer to the hotel.
Moscow originated as a wooden fort built on a hill at the confluence of the Neglinnaya and Moscva rivers in about 1147. During the Soviet era it was of course the showpiece of Russia which has resulted in a complex city with 15th century churches sitting next to modern office blocks, narrow crooked lanes and long broad avenues, rich museums and modern department stores and a population of 12 million people. It has an indefinable buzz which permeates through the city 24 hours a day making it both fascinating and exciting. There are innumerable restaurants, a wide range of hotels and a wealth of historically important monuments including of course the magnificent Red Square, the glamorous Kremlin, festive St Basils Cathedral, refined New Maiden Convent, variety of art galleries and medieval churches.

You might be surprised how many ancient and magnificent structures one can see within its walls: 15th century cathedrals (the coronation, wedding and bury place of Russian rulers), bell-tower, Patriach’s Palace, Grand Kremlin Palace and of course the richest museum - Armoury. The Armoury has a fantastic collection of insignia of Imperial power, precious clothes, ceremonial harness and unique collection of imperial carriages. The 17th century throne of Alexey Romanov covered with a mosaic of turquoises and 900 diamonds, a pheloneon of Metropolitan Platon decorated with 150,000 pearls (it took the embroiderer 2 years to work on the pattern!), the famous Faberge eggs – one help admiring the priceless and luxurious items.. Visit the 15th century cathedrals with fantastic interiors afterwards.

Diamond Collection or Diamond Fund is a unique collection of works of the 18-20th centuries Russian jewellers in gold and platinum, the collection of precious stones and diamonds (legendary Orlov and Nadir Shah diamonds) and other historical treasuries. In the Diamond Fund exposition, one can see Tzars regalia, the crown of the Russian Empire, Russian and foreign medals, huge gold and platinum bars, giant diamonds, numerous pieces of jewellery.

After lunch in a city restaurant continue to famous Red Square. Originally a commercial centre, Red Square has been at the very centre of Russian history since the 15th century, from Ivan the Terrible’s confession of his misdeeds to the people in 1550, to great demonstrations, executions and the great parades of the Soviet Union’s military might. Ironically, “krasny” originally meant beautiful; it came to mean “red” only in the last century! From the time of Ivan the Great the square was used as a huge gathering place for public events, markets, fairs and festivals. The magnificent square encompasses an area of over $ 70,000 square metres and is bounded by the Kremlin walls, St.Bazil’s cathedral, the Historical museum and GUM departments store, the shopping arcade, that was completed in 1893.

At the southern end of Red Square is the almost fairy-tale like building of St Basil’s cathedral, commissioned in 1552 by Ivan the Terrible to celebrate his conquering of Kazan; legend has it that the architect was later blinded so that he could never repeat such a building that is so traditionally Russian. It is built of brick and comprises many colourful asymmetrical helmet & onion domes situated over nine chapels; the interior is full of 16th and 17th century icons, frescoes and ceiling paintings of subtle blues and pinks.

We would like to invite you today to one of the oldest buildings in Moscow - The Chambers in Zaryadie, the historical and architectural memorial of XV-XVII centuries. The Chambers, residence of the Romanovs, is the only building that remained up to now. According to the legend, Michail Romanov, the fist Tzar of the Romanov Dynasty was born here. And the interior of the Chambers is very much alike typical wealthy boyar house. This is the only Museum in which pre-Petrine period of home mode of life is originally represented. This is a chance to deep in the real atmosphere of medieval Boyars’ dwelling.
A private a-capella concert can be organized in one of the historical chambers after working ours of the museum, followed by tea from samovar and variety of pirozhki (pies) .
In the basement of the Boyar’s house you can visit a small archaeological museum, displaying the real findings of XIV – XVII cc.

One of the most beautiful Moscow convents, founded at the beginning of 16th century, for 400 years the Novodevichy Convent was the witness and the participant of important historical events, connected with the names of Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Sofia and Peter I. The architectural ensemble of the convent was formed by the end of 17th century and till now remains one of the best in Russia. In the main, Smolensk Cathedral, there is a valuable wall fresco of 16th century and a magnificent carved iconostasis with icons of famous imperial masters of that time. The construction of the convent was a result of a large military and diplomatic victory of Russia. The founder of the convent, grand duke Vasily III, his son Ivan the Terrible, other tsars and boyars showed a great interest in the Novodevichy convent, rendering it all possible financial and legal support. Its nuns were, as a rule, representatives of the supreme feudal nobility. Among them - members of families of Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Peter I.

In the afternoon drive to the Tretyakov gallery, a museum where one can have a perfect chance to get acquainted with the best samples of the Russian art. The founders of it, brothers Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov used their family fortune to become important collectors of art. Pavel opened his house to the public in 1856 and later built a new gallery for his paintings, and in 1892, both brothers bequeathed their collections to the city. The Tretyakov gallery reopened in 1995 after a nine-year renovation, and houses the world’s best collection of Russian icons, as well as a fantastic collection of other pre-Revolutionary Russian art. Enjoy a tour in the halls devoted to Russian icon painting, where you will learn the painting techniques of old masters and admire medieval masterpieces and listen to fascinating stories about them.

After the tour we offer you a private concert in the beautiful Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker in Tolmachi, situated close to the gallery. The Church contains icons from the gallery’s reserve, among them – Russia’s most sacred object, the Icon of our Lady of Vladimir. As other cathedrals this church has a fantastic acoustics. The church is closed for the public, special chairs for the listeners are placed in the hall.
An Orthodox church brings together architecture, icon painting and a service ritual reminiscent of an ancient theatrical performance. Music, as a component of this ritual, has magic properties that captivate listeners and carry them into different reality. Since Orthodox tradition doesn’t allow musical instruments during the services, it is a capella singing, under the direction of Alexey Puzakov, one of the best choirmasters of Moscow.

This is the town around the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius and is one of Russia’s most important religious and historical landmarks, and still a place of spiritual pilgrimage. Dating back to 1340, the monastery is seeped in state and religious history and visitors today still get a real feeling of Medieval Russia. The monks here withstood a 16-month siege by the Polish from 1608 – 10 and they sheltered the young Tsars Peter and Ivan in the 1680’s. During Soviet times, it was the residence of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church, and the wealth of beautiful churches here includes the Trinity Cathedral which alone houses 42 icons by the master, Andrei Rublyov.
You’ll visit the Assumption Cathedral which was built to commemorate the defeat of the Mongols in 1585, the well chapel where you can drink holy water, the 18th century Bell Tower and the refectory which has an exquisite iconostasis, and the oldest building, Trinity Cathedral, built in 1422. Inside are the remains of St. Sergius in a silver sarcophagus, and icons painted by a pupil of Sergius, the great Andrei Rublyov. The art of carving toys has long been a tradition here; the first toys were made and distributed by St. Sergius to the children of the town. Many painters, sculptors and folk artists trace their heritage back to the 17th century, when the first toy and craft workshops were set up in the town.

After morning sightseeing in Sergiev Posad , Drive on to Pereslavl-Zalessky, (70kms), the 12thc capital of a principality within the larger state of Suzdalia, straddling the highly important trade route leading north to Yaroslavl and Archangel. See the 12thC Cathedral of the Transfiguration of our Saviour and other surviving monuments from medieval times to the mid-19thC. Also the 17thc Goritsky Monastery – the most richly endowed.

After lunch continue on to Yuriev Polsky, (70kms) a small town in the centre of the “Golden Ring” founded in the 12thC: the main sights are the15thc. Georgievsky Cathedral, with its onion domes and riotous carving of animals, saints and angels and the Michailo-Arkhangelsky Monastery (17thc).
You will arrive Suzdal in the evening.

Suzdal is a charming town, a virtual garden of onion dome churches. In the early 1100s it was Russia's capital and came under the ‘Tartar Yoke.” when it was invaded by the Mongols in 1238 (an ancient wound, but not a forgotten one). Today the city sightseeing in Suzdal, this morning you’ll visit some of the city’s sights including the former citadel, known as the Suzdal Kremlin, as well as the oldest of Suzdal's 50 churches, the 760 year-old Rozhdestvesky Cathedral, located in the center of the old city

You will also visit the Museum of Wooden Architecture - which delivers a fascinating glimpse into the building techniques of wooden barns, churches and handicrafts.
Lunch is followed by a drive to Vladimir. Vladimir was founded in 1108 by Vladimir Monomakh, and was an important princedom for several centuries, as well as the residence of the head of the Russian Church from 1300 to 1326. This uniquely Russian town boasts several of the most beautiful buildings in all of Russia. You’ll start your sightseeing with a visit to the 12th century Golden Gates, the only surviving part of the city’s defensive walls. Next, the Assumption Cathedral - a masterpiece of medieval architecture modeled after Kiev’s Byzantine-style cathedrals, with prized 14th century frescoes by Andrei Rublyov and Daniil Chyorny adorning the walls. Nearby is the old-Russian 12th century cathedral of St. Demetrius, famed for its exquisite exterior bas-reliefs.
Overnight Suzdal
Note: We can arrange a group dinner in a private home in Suzdal.

In the morning we continue to the 14th century Spaso-Yevfimievsky Monastery (Savior Monastery of St. Euthymius). One of the wealthiest monasteries of Old Russia, by the 17th century it owned vast tracts of land and more than 10,000 serfs. Ringed by massive red-brick walls, punctuated by 12 watchtowers, and almost a mile long, the monastery is truly a sight to behold. Inside are the 16th century Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior, the Assumption Church, the monks’ quarters and Our Lady of Smolensk Church.

The way back to Moscow takes much time (about 4 hrs driving) and we offer you a remarkable opportunity to visit a private historical estate, Galina’s dacha carefully restored by descendants of a reach merchant of XIX-beg XX cc . You will see the house of merchant, a peasants house, a beautiful garden, a small textile workshop, where you can get acquainted with process of textile producing. Besides, the hostess of the estate, a remarkable women, Galina, is the artist - she creates beautiful Russian dolls, dressed in historical costumes of various areas of Russia. There is an exhibition of her works in the estate. Sink into remarkable atmosphere of an old traditional house and XIX c Russian life.
Traditional Russian lunch can be served in the main house of the estate, accompanied by small folklore concert.

Return to Moscow where you’ll have dinner in a local restaurant and later transfer to the train station for the overnight train to St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG You’ll arrive in St. Petersburg this morning and transfer to your hotel where you’ll check in and have an opportunity to freshen up before your tour of this glorious city

Known as St. Petersburg for most of its 300 years, and briefly as Petrograd (1914-1924) and Leningrad (1924-1991), St. Petersburg remains a magnificent testament to its former namesake, Peter the Great. Peter created a unique blend of European and Russian life, reflected to this day in St. Petersburg's exquisite architecture, art collections and vibrant people. This legendary city has also served as the focal point for the transition from Czarist Russia to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and back to Russia again.

Originally a small, private palace gallery, the Hermitage today houses the largest art collection in the world. Scattered among six buildings and 350 rooms, the Hermitage has over 2.7 million items on display, including a 3000 year-old Egyptian mummy, 20 paintings by Rembrandt and Michelangelo’s statue, “Crouching Boy.” The French Impressionist collection may be the finest in the world. Do not miss the collection smuggled out of then East Germany by the Soviet military in the last days of WWII which includes some unusual still-lives by Renoir and two stunning Van Goghs. Due to the controversy surrounding their provenance (their presence was only made known to the world in 1995), the paintings will probably never leave Russia so they are certainly worth seeing.
Depending on your interest, a private lecture of the Hermitage curator can be organized.

After lunch in the city restaurant , you will drive pass the main streets of the city and visit the Peter and Paul Fortress. The Peter and Paul fortress was founded on a small island in the delta of the river Neva in 1703 to protect the area from possible attacks. The day of its construction became the birthday of the city of St. Petersburg. At the heart of the fortress is the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, with its landmark gold spire, where all of Russia’s pre-Revolutionary leaders were buried, apart from Peter, Ivan IV and Nicholas II. In former days it was used as a political prison. In some cellars costumed actors are placed greeting the group, telling “the story of their lives”. The multiple buildings and constructions house memorial exhibitions and expositions.

After breakfast, take the hydrofoil to Petrodvorets, or Peterhof as it was called before 1944. It is situated on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, 19 miles from St. Petersburg. The estate encompasses several ornate palaces and extensive parks, including a huge and impressive ensemble of gilded statues and magnificent fountains. Focus on the fountains and exterior of the Grand Palace, built for Peter the Great. Also left in ruins after WWII, the palace and grounds today represent an incredible and expertly-executed feat of restoration.

After lunch at Peterhof return to the city in the afternoon and visit the Russian museum, which houses a fabulous collection of Russian art and artifacts. From there you walk back to the hotel which sits on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt. You take a stroll down this historic street where your guide will point out some houses and palaces of interest along the way. This evening you can walk along the banks of the Moika or Fontanka rivers both of which have extraordinary architecture interspersed with squares and gardens and monuments to composers, scientists, generals, politicians and aristocracy.

Today we offer the whole day tour to the former summer residences of the Russian tsars – Tsars Village to visit there the Catherine Palace and park. Situated in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg the Tsar Village is a unique ensemble comprising several pavilions, beautiful lakes and gardens and a wonderful Catherine Palace.
The summer palace was originally given by Peter the Great to his wife Catherine, and was rebuilt by Italian architect Rastrelli in 1756. The palace is a huge, elegant building with white and hold Baroque mouldings set against a blue background, set in a beautiful park with elaborate gardens, canals and pavilions. Catherine the Great loved living here. Some of the more beautiful rooms include the Great Hall, the State Dining Room, the Amber Room, the Blue Drawing Room, the bedroom of Alexander I’s wife Elisabeth and the Palace Church.
The clients visit Catherine palace and promenade in the beautiful park afterwards.
We can arrange a special private visit to the Restoration workshops, where you will be able to see the process of restoration of beautiful artefacts and speak with specialists.

Have lunch in the restaurant “Podvorye” with traditional wooden Russian décor and national cuisine. The restaurant is known to have been visited by top level officials – Vladimir Putin, Jaques Chirac, etc. It is a very cosy restaurant, the interior resembles traditional Russian terem (wooden palace), a lot of woodcarving. Meal is accompanied by folklore group singing.
Russian vodka, Moldavian or Georgian wine – no limit

Pavlovsk is situated about 5 km from Pushkin. Great Palace of Pavlovsk was a present from Catherine the Great for her son Paul (hence the name of the place). The palace but has been beautifully and lavishly restored, and is set amidst delightful parkland which, when created, was the largest landscaped area in the world. Pavlovsk Palace, built in 1782-1786 by architect Charles Cameron. The building of the Palace is an example of the Russian Classical architecture. Collections of the museum are rich in unique pieces of Russian and West European porcelain, furniture, canvases of XVII – XVIII c.c. of western artists, carpets, bronze items, ivory and precious stones objects. Antique sculpture collection is the second after collections of Hermitage. The environ includes a magnificent palace and a picturesque park one of the largest in Europe that covers the area of 600 ha. Located on a hill the palace overlooks an English-styled park, with a beautiful river running down it. This is a superb palace and park ensemble of late XVIII - early XIX centuries which was used as a summer residence of the Russian emperor Paul I, the son of Catherine the Great and his family.

In the evening visit the world famous the Mariinsky theatre (optional)
The Mariinsky (Kirov) stage has been site of countless world-famous productions of Russian opera and ballet. Many famous performers began their careers there, including Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Natalya Makarova. The ballet school provides the finest training of Russian classical ballet.
The performance at the Mariinsky theatre afterwards will make the evening unforgettable. Optional – private cocktail reception in the interval.

Today you leave StPetersburg for Novgorod, the ancient capital of Russia. On the way we offer a visit to a small tiny town , laying out of beaten tourist paths.
When getting to Staraya (Old) Ladoga, one immediately feels fascination of this place. Its aura makes you forget about the present. Staraya Ladoga is a unique country, no matter how you come to realize that - using your mind to imagine people who lived their lives here almost 1250 years ago or your senses to perceive the spirit of the place
Located at a scenery bend of the Volkhov River, Staraya Ladoga is 120 km far from St.Petersburg. The ancient waterway "from the Varangians to the Greeks" that passed here made Staraya Ladoga a crossing point of the peoples and cultures to the benefit of its inhabitants.
The relatively small territory of 190 hectares retains 160 monuments of the 8th -20th centuries. The museum founded in 1966 was opened for visitors in July 1971. The current status of the whole territory of the ancient town and its surroundings is a historic architectural and archeological reserve museum. More than 200 ths units are deposited in the museum funds, numerous fragments of destroyed murals being among them. Museum exhibits are arranged in nearly all monuments of the reserve.
The archaeological collection of the Staraya Ladoga museum is considered one of the most interesting ones of that kind in Russia. It has visited many European countries.
The ethnographic exhibit includes belongings of peasants, petty bourgeoises, noble people and merchants and depicts the private life of different classes of Ladoga. The prevailing trades that brought income to local residents were quarrying, timber cutting, shipping, fishing, farriery and blacksmithing. Weaving, spinning and woodworking were also developed.
More than 400 works, mostly landscape and genre paintings by remarkable Russian and Soviet artists who worked in Staraya Ladoga, are featured in the art collection of the reserve museum.
Ten general and specialized tours are conducted in the reserve, including those of museum exhibits and shows and of architectural monuments, ancient churches and monastery ensembles. Concerts of classical and folk music are performed in the harmoniously proportioned Church of Sv.Georgy (St.George) of the 12th century.
Optional: meeting with the Professor, the Head of archaeological expedition in Staraya Ladoga

In the afternoon you arrive to Novgorod.

Not belonging to the chain of Golden Ring towns, the city, however, is likewise rich in its history and architecture. Being one of the picturesque and oldest cities of Northern Russia, Novgorod also has the advantage over other Russian towns of having not suffered the full weight of the Mongol-Tatars invasion. That is why the ancient monuments have been perfectly preserved here. In early 12th century largely on account of its position on trade route between the Baltic and Black Seas, Novgorod became known as "Lord Novgorod the Great". The history of the city goes back to the 9th century, when the Novgorodians invited Scandinavian prince Rurik to keep law and order, thus giving birth to Rurik dynasty that ruled over all Russian lands throughout more than 750years. The adoption of Christianity in the 10th century turned the city into a powerful ecclesiastical centre. The city was also one of the main trading centres of Russia.

The tour of the city includes a visit on of the ancient architectural ensembles - the Kremlin. The main sight here is St. Sophia's Cathedral, built in early 11th century to imitate the famous St. Sophia's cathedral in Kiev. The central dome of it is a gigantic copy of the helmet of an ancient Russian warrior, topped by a cross and bronze dove. According to the legend, Novgorod will stand until the dove flies away. The cathedral has got fantastic frescoes of the twelve century and 16th century iconostasis, richly ornamented with silver and gold.

You will also see The Palace of facets (1433), the Church of Sergey Radonezh (1563), 15th century clock tower. The Kremlin possesses Historical museum and Art gallery, which collection is sure to impress everybody. The museum collection contains over 550 icons, some of them dating 11th century, ancient manuscripts and private letters of the 11th century, written on birchbark. Between 1100 and 1150 Novgorod is supposed to have had 230 churches. Some of the structures you can see now - Church of St. Mikhail, St. Ilijah's Church, the Church of St. Peter and Paul, Church of Paraskeva Pyatnitsa and many other medieval architectural monuments.
An indispensable part of the trip is a visit to Vitoslavitsy Open-air Museum of Wooden Buildings, occupying 30 hectares and containing churches, houses and peasants' huts of artistic and historical value from all parts of the Novgorod region.

You will have en unique opportunity to visit the functioning archaeological excavation – Troitsky site, where the most valuable archaeological findings were regained.

After shore viewing of the most beautiful churches of Novgorod, you will drive St Petersburg (3,5hrs) for departure flight to home.