By the time we got to Moscow, Dan and I hadn’t spent any time outside of a city since our stay at Lake Baikal. Now I do love cities, especially Russian ones, but by Moscow I had started to daydream about a quiet walk in the fresh air.
Luckily just a few hours outside of Moscow lies Suzdal, about which Wikipedia says: “The juxtaposition of stunning medieval architecture with its pastoral setting lends Suzdal a picturesque charm and in the summer artists and easels are a common sight.”
Suzdal is so perfect in fact, that I sensed a touch of design behind it – Soviet design, to be specific.
It turns out that the Soviet Union decided to avoid building any modern buildings in Suzdal in order to preserve its tourist appeal, banning buildings over two stories high – except for cathedrals, of course. So today Suzdal has none of the tall apartment blocks that characterize other former Soviet towns and cities, but is instead filled with beautiful churches and wooden houses!
Suzdal really does have a lot of pretty buildings.
Something about it felt a bit… Oh what’s the word? Starts with D and rhymes with blisney?
Suzdal is home to a lot of churches, but in the Soviet push to base Suzdal’s economy on tourism, the small town also was filled with churches and wooden homes from other areas of Russia.
I guess it was good for Suzdal, but how sad must that have been for the towns that lost their most beautiful structures to this tourist attraction?
As I walked around Suzdal I couldn’t help but wonder where some of its pretty sites really came from – and what those towns looked like after their own Soviet makeovers.
While it was nice to get out of the city for a bit, and Suzdal certainly is beautiful, I mostly found the town bizarre. It’s clearly touristy there in the summer, so it was interesting to see it in its empty off-season state. Suzdal was strange (and pretty!) enough that I really enjoyed my visit there, but I suspect if I had gone there in the summer I might not have loved it quite as much.
Then again, maybe it would be fun to see Suzdal in its full glory – crowded with tourists admiring the livestock running picturesquely through the streets as artists paint the charming scene.
Where to Stay in Suzdal
We stayed at Godzillas Hostel, which is in a spacious wooden lodge at the edge of town. My only complaint was that it took about an hour to reach the town center from Godzillas.
Though I should add that this was solely due to the thick layer of slippery ice covering all the roads while we were in Suzdal because, well let’s just say I’m no Michelle Kwan when I step on ice. The hostel really is only 20 minutes from the center.
Getting to Suzdal from Moscow
There aren’t any trains to Suzdal, so the easiest way to get there is via Vladimir. You can get the local electric train from Moscow’s — station, which takes 3.5 hours and costs about 400 RUB, or you can take one of the faster and more comfortable (and more expensive) regional express trains.
From Vladimir you can get a bus to Suzdal from the bus station across from the train station for 72 RUB.
What do you think, is Suzdal charming? I still can’t decide!