To the 50th anniversary of the tourist route «Golden Ring»

One of the symbols-images of Russia today is the legendary, known almost all over the world tourist route "Golden Ring". It is associated with the millennial history of the country, which is imprinted in the guise of ancient Russian cities of the center of Russia, with their rare in beauty and historical value architectural monuments, magnificent frescoes and icons, unique works of folk crafts. This historical and cultural wealth is the true gold of Russia, which causes admiration and surprise among modern domestic and foreign tourists.

Yu.A. Bychkov is the founder of the "Golden Ring"

In 2017 the "Golden Ring" turns 50 years old. The author of the idea of ​​a circular tourist route along ancient Russian cities and the very name of this route, so imaginative and at the same time surprisingly accurate, was the Moscow journalist and writer Yury Bychkov (1931-2016). Since the early 1960s, he worked in the newspaper "Soviet Culture", where he published art criticism articles and essays. On the instructions of the editorial superiors Yu.A. Bychkov often visited Suzdal, which in the second half of the 1960s began to actively revive and turn into a major tourist center. In November 1967 Bychkov drove his car along the route  planned in Suzdal two years earlier: Moscow – Zagorsk (now Sergiev Posad) – Pereslavl-Zalessky – Rostov – Yaroslavl – Kostroma – Ivanovo – Suzdal – Vladimir – Moscow. It turned out a ring, a necklace consisting of original precious stones – ancient cities with priceless architectural monuments and unique culture. As a result of the trip, Yuri Bychkov published a series of essays on ancient Russian cities under the general title "Golden Ring" – an invitation to travel around the cities of historical North-Eastern Russia. Each sketch was accompanied by a route scheme, according to which Bychkov moved. The first of these essays was published in Soviet Culture on November 21, 1967. This date, therefore, is the birthday of the new tourist route, which, with the easy hand of Yu.A. Bychkov, was given the name "Golden Ring".  

Yu.A. Bychkov’s richest way of life was marked by many achievements. In the mid-1960s, he was one of the creators of the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Monuments of History and Culture, and later – its honorary member. In the 1970s, Bychkov headed the editorial board of aesthetics in the publishing house "Young Guards", he was the founder and chief editor of the series of books "Masters of arts – for the youth," and resumed publishing the magazine "Young Artist". From the beginning of the 1980s, Yuri Alexandrovich was the editor-in-chief of the publishing house "Art". Then he worked as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Moscow artist". During the decade (1994-2004) he was the director of the State Literary and Memorial Museum-Reserve of A.P. Chekhov "Melikhovo". In 2000 he organized the First International Theater Festival "Melikhovo Spring ".

Yu.A. Bychkov is the author of several plays, poems and books dedicated to the life of famous people – A.P. Chekhov, sculptor S.T. Konenkov, the architect-restorer P.D. Baranovsky and others. And, of course, for many years Yuri Bychkov developed the theme of a unique role in the history of Russia and in the formation of Russian statehood of the ancient cities of North-Eastern Russia, which were included in the "Golden Ring". He made a literary description to the photo-guide "By the Golden Ring of Russia", which has withstood several publications, including in ten languages of the peoples of the world. On how the tourist brand "Golden Ring" was created, the protection of monuments of Russian history and culture Bychkov reflects in the book "The Golden Ring" and Konyovo Divo", published in 2014. In the same 2014, Yury Bychkov became the winner of the All-Russian Prize "Keepers of the heritage" in the nomination "Word".

Cities of Russia, included in the "Golden Ring"

Throughout all 50 years of development of the tourist route "Golden Ring", the question remained open, which cities are worthy of inclusion in this prestigious list. The classical "golden" list, coming from Yu.A. Bychkov and accepted by scholars and local historians, includes already mentioned above eight major cities: Vladimir, Suzdal, Ivanovo, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Rostov the Great, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Sergiev Posad. This is the so-called "Small Golden Ring". 

The increased interest of domestic and foreign tourists to the ancient Russian cities caused the emergence of certain varieties of the classical route. The cities of Alexandrov, Gorokhovets, Gus-Khrustalny, Dmitrov, Kalyazin, Murom, Myshkin, Plyos, Rybinsk, Tutayev, Uglich, Yuryev-Polsky, Shuya, as well as the villages Bogolyubovo, Kideksha, Palekh began to be assigned to it. In the last two years, Kasimov and Kaluga were added to it. But this list remains controversial, however, as well as the name attributed to it – the "Big Golden Ring".

In any case, in these definitions of tourist routes there is a large share of conventionality. For example, in some regions, including the Vladimir region, routes to historical towns and villages of the same region are called the "Small Golden Ring". It can be assumed that such definitions are sometimes used to enhance the tourist attractiveness of certain places. All the more so, the above mentioned cities and villages have an ancient history, preserved historical centers almost in their original form, support the traditions of folk crafts and trades.

It is difficult to recount in one article everything that the cities, included in the classic list of the Golden Ring, are famous for. Many of their architectural monuments are protected by UNESCO as a world heritage. For example, this status was given to white-stone monuments of the 12th-13th centuries in Vladimir and Suzdal, among which the Assumption and St. Demetrius cathedrals are especially distinguished, as well as the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl, the architectural ensemble of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad, the historical center of Yaroslavl.

  • -  «Small Golden Ring»
  • -  «Big Golden Ring»

Revival of interest to the "Golden Ring" on the eve of the 50th anniversary

Yu.D. Bychkov, the founding father of the "Golden Ring", unfortunately, did not live to see the significant date – the 50th anniversary of his brainchild. But even during his lifetime, he actively cooperated with the administrations of the regions and cities included in the famous tourist route, helping in the preparation of the complex of events for the upcoming jubilee. In particular, noting that it was in Suzdal that the idea of ​​the "Golden Ring" was born to him, he spoke in favor of installing a commemorative sign "Zero kilometer of the Golden Ring" near the  walls of the Savior-Euthymius monastery. In addition, Yu.D. Bychkov proposed in the anniversary year to organize a festival of films shot in Suzdal, as well as an exhibition of artists – the natives of this ancient city. These and many other ideas of Yuri Bychkov, in memory of him, will be realized by his associates and followers. 

On the eve of the anniversary of the "Golden Ring", three historical regions –Vladimir, Yaroslavl and Kostroma regions united in the framework of the interregional project the "Golden Ring. 2.0". Its main goal is to increase the investment attractiveness of the territories due to tourism. Given that, according to Rustourism, the demand for the "Golden Ring" increased by 15% in 2016, the participants of the new project intend to attract new tourist flows to the seemingly "untwisted" tourist centers, not only from abroad, but from other Russian regions. Three main areas of the "Golden Ring" will form a single tourist route, develop a unified marketing strategy and standards of tourist service. A special place in the project is given to the development of the transport system. It is the construction of new and reconstruction of old highways, as well as the modernization of the railway transport network. Interregional project the "Golden Ring 2.0" became the winner of the international tourist investment forum "ITIF-2016" in Sochi (30.09-03.10 2016). The implementation of the project in 2017 will contribute to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the legendary "Golden Ring".

In the Vladimir region, the anniversary year was opened with the installation of a foundation stone at the site of the future commemorative sign dedicated to the tourist route "Golden Ring", near the walls of the Savior-Euthymius monastery in Suzdal. This event took place on February 19 in the framework of inter-regional competitions "Suzdal ski verst". Representatives of all Russian regions included in the "Golden Ring" gathered here.

In early March 2017, at a special meeting of the organizing committee for the preparation and holding of the 50th anniversary of the "Golden Ring" at the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, a plan of festive events was approved. One of the central events of the jubilee year in the Vladimir region will be the holding of a thematic session of the 5th Vladimir Economic Forum "Small and medium-sized entrepreneurship. Tourism: investment in the future "(19-21 May 2017). In addition, according to the plan, a number of large-scale international and interregional events dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the "Golden Ring" will be held in the Vladimir region in 2017, among them: International Forum "Urgent issues of the development of gastronomic tourism. Formation of the gastronomic map of Russia" in the framework of the 2nd Festival "Medovukha-FEST" (June 17-18, Suzdal); the 3d Festival of small tourist cities of Russia "Gastronomy of the small town "(June 17-18, Suzdal); International Festival of Automobile Travelers "Golden Ring Rally 2017" (July 24-30); International Patchwork Festival (August 10-16, Suzdal);  All-Russian Day of Family, Love and Fidelity (July 8, Murom); the 4th All-Russian Festival of Sacred Music and Bells "Summer of the Lord" (26-27 August, Suzdal); the 6th International Folk Art Festival  "Golden Ring", under the auspices of the Russian Federation Commission for UNESCO (1-9 September, Vladimir); All-Russia festival of Russian folk dance for the prize of T.A. Ustinova  "Throughout Russia they play roundelays" (October 5-7, Vladimir).

In the year of the anniversary of the famous tourist route, of course, one can predict the strengthening of people's interest in ancient Russian cities rich in historical sights. Routes along the "Golden Ring" can be different. Someone will want to organize a long trip to all or many cities of the historic ring and turn to the services of travel companies that will provide travel on the route, excursions, accommodation and meals. Many, perhaps, prefer to travel on weekends, getting acquainted with each city of the "Golden Ring" separately.

A significant part of tourists like to travel independently. Such trips have their advantages: they are leisurely, not tied to specific excursions, they allow you to examine the sights and museums thoroughly, and, perhaps, participate in feasts and events in the given territory, having received an emotional charge.

For those who wish to visit the cities of the "Golden Ring" in the Vladimir region can be useful the tourist portal Tourism33.rf. Here you can find information about each city of the Vladimir region, sights and museums, events and festivals, routes, souvenirs, hotels, etc. –  and plan your trip in detail, based on your capabilities and interests.

Author: V. Korolkova
Date: 02.02.2017