Monday, August 9, 2010

Last Day in Vladimir

The still working convent of Bogolyubovo

Today is my last day in Vladimir. I blinked and somehow over a month went by. I spent this past weekend doing all of the things I said I was going to do the first week here, but never got around to doing.

The Dormition Cathedral

On Saturday, I finally made my way into the Dormition Cathedral. This is the big church on Church Square, and I've been meaning to go inside for weeks because on the ceiling is a fresco by Andrei Rublyov, the famous 14th Century icon painter. So I donned a dress that covered my shoulders & my knees, tossed on a head scarf and went into the church.

Since the church doesn't allow photography on the inside, you're just going to have to take my word that it was absolutely beautiful on the inside. Extremely ornate-lots of gold chandeliers and a massive iconostasis.

The church also has the relics of 4 people. The bodies are covered but you can see their mummified hands sticking out of the cloth. On the wall above one body was a picture of Aleksandr Nevsky, who was the Grand Prince of Vladimir & Novgorod in the 13th Century.

"Oh, how cool!" I thought, "This is Nevsky. Hello there, Mr. Nevsky, so nice to see you."

Later in the day I met up with my roommate and told her about how I got to see the body of Aleksandr Nevsky. She then promptly & correctly informed me that he is not buried there-his remains were moved to St. Petersburg in the 18th Century. So I have no clue whose body I was introducing myself to.

Sunday was laundry day for me, which was about as thrilling as you'd expect doing laundry to be. While I waited for my laundry to be washed, I did take a trip over to the Museum of Crystal and Lacquer Boxes. That was again a place where photography was not allowed, so no photos of that either. Let's just say I looked at a lot of crystal glasses. And a lot of lacquer boxes. There were no surprises there.

The Church of the Intercession on the Nerl. It's a lot prettier if you pretend that that's morning fog just rolling off the field, and not toxic smoke from 800 wildly burning forest fires.

Today, however, was my trip to Bogolyubovo, a small town about 6 miles from Vladimir. This is the site of the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl River. The legend behind this church is that it's so holy that whenever the town floods only the church remains untouched by the water. The church is a 12th Century construction, and considered one of the finest white stone buildings in all of Russia. The church is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Also, when searching the internet to find the correct dates & information for Bogolyubovo, I came across this website: I enjoy the part that says there's nothing to do in this town other than look at the three listed tourist sites. Way to get people to visit, Wikipedia.

My favorite part of the day was the walk to the church. To get there from the center of town you have to walk for about 20 minutes through a gigantic field. It was a stunningly beautiful walk, and a light breeze made it a walk instead of a death march.

A path through the birch forest on the way up to the church.

The surrounding scenery made me feel like I was once again in a Russian novel. A huge sweeping field, a stone pathway to the church, a birch forest, and then---GOATS!

Loads and loads of goats! Just goats galore. They were on the bank of a river enjoying some grass and having a drink. They seemed to pop out of nowhere. I thought they were fantastic.

They might not have been playing violins, but I definitely felt a sense of happiness.

Tonight we're going to have an early birthday celebration for my host mom. Her actual birthday is the 11th, but I will be in Moscow by then. My roommate and I are going to surprise her by bringing home a cake. This morning she gave each of us a pile of Russian cards and Soviet era postcards as a good-bye present. My good-bye & thank you presents to her are socks (she has not been able to buy new socks in 7 years, so it's definitely high time the lady had some new socks), a pair of slippers and some more coffee.

I'm going to miss it here so much. Not only is the city a great little city with lots of interesting things to see, but I lucked out in getting such a great host mom, and a wonderful teacher at the American House.

So good-bye, Vladimir, you've been awfully good to me.
I'm off to Moscow in all its smoke-filled glory tomorrow.

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