Three Hours in Pereslavl-Zalessky

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September 20th 2014
Published: September 20th 2014
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I got up early in the morning without much wish to go anywhere, but still decided to hurry up to the bus station. Today I visited Pereslavl-Zalessky, an ancient Russian town not very far from Moscow (140 kilometers). The bus departed from Schelkovsky bus station at ten o’clock. The web schedule also stated a bus at 9-30 but the tickets seemed to be sold out (recommended to buy one or two days in advance). Everything was all right except for a traffic jam which lasted for almost one and a half hour. The highway (‘so-called’) was for many kilometers under repairs and construction works, narrowing it down, so that the everlasting flow of vehicles, damn them, seemed to go on forever and the bus moved a meter at a time. I was so annoyed. The traffic jam finally thinned out and we drove on faster, reaching the town at 1 o’clock. The book I was reading during this journey was Rabbit, Run by John Updike.

I knew in advance that there was a certain distance from the Pereslavl station to the centre and asked a woman how to reach the sights. I bought a return ticket right away, and had only three hours. It turned out the required bus stop was right by the bus station and I soon was within the sightworthy area. Though, one can begin sightseeing right from there, because a monastery is near and one can also see houses and people selling various products and items right by the roadside.

I decided to take the bus closer to the town’s outskirts and from there walk on foot, and I managed to see the essential places, most of them were monasteries. I liked the atmosphere of the town, it seemed different from the previously seen places. May be, it was the perfect sunny weather and the feeling of approaching autumn, leaves already losing their colours. I noticed no monuments of Soviet era.

Let us now make a historical introduction to the town. The town was founded in 1152 by Prince Yuri Dolgoruki. The name ‘Zalessky’, meaning literally ‘behind the forests’, refers to Zalesye, a region of fields and farming. The famous Russian Alexander Nevsky was born in Pereslavl in 1220. The town was actually the capital of north-eastern Rus in 1276-1294 because Prince Dmitry, who was then ruling the Russian princedoms, resided here.

As I walked, I saw various nice colourful buildings, a church, and a small river (Trubezh), but unfortunately I did not have time to go to Plescheyevo Lake, on which the town borders. Even if a tourist has no map, he will still be able to find everything because on bus stations there are modern schematic maps with information about sights and bus numbers (in Russian language). It helped me a great deal. The bus stops were new and neat.

The town has preserved the so-called ‘Mound Ring’ which comprises several ancient earthen mounds; I saw them in two places. As several other Russian towns, it has the so-called “Red Square”, acting as the town’s ‘heart’ in the past; it is a nice place with lots of greenery and several old churches: Spaso-Preobrazhesnky Cathedral, Vladimirsko-Sretensky Cathedral, Alexander Nevsky Church.

The town boasts a multitude of quite unusual and, certainly, interesting museums, the very names of which excite curiosity: the Museum of Cunning and Sagacity, the Museum of Press Irons, the Museum of Kettles, and the Boat of Peter the Great. Long ago, the Russian fleet was born by the banks of Plescheyevo Lake. It is wonderful, one learning about some important historical events and seeing the places where it all happened with own eyes.

Proceeding along the central street, I ascended the earthen mound and saw many church domes. It must be a monastery, and I, excited with the success of sightseeing, went immediately there. The cathedral was huge and impressive, it did not seem very old, and its many gold-plated domes glistened in the fierce sun.

I checked the time and hurried up. I needed a WC very much, and also I wanted to buy a snack and drink before departure. One more monastery disclosed itself before my eyes, standing prominently and formidably on a hill. I went up the hill and was rewarded with the best panorama of the whole town and the dark-blue waters of Plescheyevo Lake, far away in a narrow strip along the horizon. The buildings, of course, were mostly low-rise. I think I was charmed by the town. I entered the monastery, paying 20 roubles, and thankfully found a lavatory. I then quickly walked to the bus station, reaching it 10 minutes before departure. However, the bus departed after a 15-minute delay. As sure as eggs is eggs, there was a traffic jam on the way back, but somewhat shorter.

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