Vladimir Oblast: Vladimir

Vladimir was the capital of Russia for a period of time in the middle ages, and is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site with a huge load of historic buildings, churches, houses, and monasteries. The golden-domed Dormition Cathedral is the central church in Vladimir and dates back to 1159, it later served as the model for most of other Russia onion-domed churches all over the country. Next to it is the St. Demetrius’ Cathedral from 1197, this one with absolutely stunning carved exterior depicting the biblical story of King David. Nearby is also the Nativity Monastery, where I got seriously yelled at by a bearded priest who said that photography even outside is not blessed by the Metropolite of Russia (questions of why were met with a dismissive smirk). Unable to photograph, I moved on across the street to the Lenin Monument with the background of the Russian imperial coat of arms on a bank (talk about contrasts). Finally, a walk along the main avenue takes you to the Golden Gate, an ancient gate to Vladimir dating to 1158.