A Russian road trip in a Porsche to a land of beautiful monasteries
Touring Russia’s Golden Ring of historical gems
Ipatievsky Monastery in Kostroma, Russia, with golden onion-domed towers
On a road trip from Moscow in a thoroughly modern Porsche sports car, we visit a world of beautiful monasteries, pretty roads and encounter outstanding craftmanship and unforgettable hospitality
Eight splendid towns, one sporty driveMoscow is Europe’s most densely populated capital. It means that when you eventually leave the chaos of this city and head out into the countryside on your Russian road trip, the landscapes you find yourself in somehow feel even more idyllic. Heading northeast into the Moscow Oblast, we are travelling into the heart of the old Russian state. On the horizon, we spy a gilded dome – it’s the onion tower of the sprawling Trinity Lavra of St Sergius monastery complex. Surrounded by five turquoise cupolas adorned with golden stars, its glittering, ornate roof sparkles in the sunlight. Sergiyev Posad is the first of eight towns that make up what is known as the Golden Ring, a collection of old Russian cities which were central to the formation of the Russian Orthodox church and are all graced with beautiful ecclesiastical buildings.
Porsche sports car in front of the white kremlin in Rostov
Impressive buildings wherever the journey takes us
Sergiyev Posad’s cuboid bell tower, highlighted in pale blue and with a gilded roof – like the one we earlier admired at the Kremlin in Moscow – is one of the icons of Russian architecture. Each of the medieval towns in the Golden Ring has a unique story to tell. What they all have in common is that their wonderful monuments from Tsarist-era Russia have been beautifully preserved.
Walled monastery complex of Sergiyev Posad, Russia, from the air
Russia’s monasteries and churches began being built from the advent of Christianity in the state in 988 AD
As well as their monasteries and churches, the towns of the Golden Ring also boast wonderfully preserved old buildings and UNESCO-protected sites. The picturesque landscape of meadows and forests on this part of your Russian road trip is an added bonus, with its array of lakes and the jagged, mighty Volga and its tributaries meandering through it. But most who come to this region do so to take in its splendid architecture, with its thrusting bell towers, impossibly beautiful cathedrals and Kremlins made of white stone. The latter is readily apparent to participants on the Porsche Travel Experience The Golden Ring of Russia when arriving at their next stop, the town of Rostov-Veliky (Rostov the Great – not to be confused with the larger Rostov-on-Don, in the south of the country). For centuries, it was Russia’s most important religious centre. Today, its brilliant white walls remain a beacon whether from the road or for anyone bobbing around on Lake Nero, which the Rostov-Veliky Kremlin overlooks.
White kremlin of Rostov-Veliky in Russia, overlooking Lake Nero
Rostov-Veliky’s white kremlin and collection of fairy tale buildings were built in the late 17th century
A Russian road trip to encounter Tsarist-era architectural gemsAfter Rostov-Veliky, the route of the Golden Ring heads into the historic Zalesye region, the home to the former capital of the Kievan Rus federation, an early feudal monarchy that reigned here from 882 AD to 1240. After a stretch of pleasant driving experiences in the Porsche, passing through the town of Yaroslav on the way, our next stop is the spectacular town of Kostroma. This pearl on the Volga has a unique building – the Ipatievsky Monastery, where the dynasty of the Russian Tsars, the Romanov family originated from. For us participants of the Porsche Travel Experience, the doors to the family rooms of Tsar Alexey Romanov and his mother are thrown open and we get an exclusive insight into the 300-year-old history of the Romanovs. A spectacular location, to which riders a century ago would travel 400km from Moscow to, taking just over a day and a half without a break. Our progress, of course, has been far more comfortable and leisurely.
Magnificently decorated interiors of the Ipatievsky Monastery in Kostroma
Many of the unique buildings in the Golden Ring are now protected UNESCO World Heritage sites
After a traditional Russian lunch, participants journey on again, passing through destinations like Suzdal and Ples, where classical ceramic art and trademark wooden architecture are still on show. Finally, we’re onto Vladimir, one of the mediaeval capitals of Russia, and its Golden Gate. The main gates dates back to the mid-12th century, a time when the Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal was the country’s most important cultural centre, with its leading architecture schools. These schools not only continued the traditions of Byzantine and southern Russian architecture by building in white stone, but also added elements from western European architecture. Our sporty Russian road trip around the Golden Ring complete, we return back to Moscow, heads full of the lasting memories that we’ve created.
Classic decorated ceramic craftmanship on green tiles
In the city of Suzdal, the classical art of ceramics is still celebrated | Courtesy of Dymov-Keramikfabrik, Suzdal
Fast forward through the centuriesOur trip back in time to explore the culture of the Tsarist dynasty ends in the thoroughly modern Russian capital. At the legendary White Rabbit restaurant in the city we meet Vladimir Mukhin, a pioneer among Russia’s young culinary elite. Housed on the 16th floor of the chic Smolensky building, with 360-degree views of Moscow, White Rabbit currently sits in 13th place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Here, Mukhin celebrates the food of his homeland and revels in Russia’s modern splendour. The food is great, but there’s a sense of theatre here too with its Alice in Wonderland themes. The crowning finale of a fabulous tour of the gastronomic, cultural and driving kind.This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.
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