Yaroslavl Travel Guide



Yaroslavl founded as a fortress in 1010 by Yaroslav the Wise, Yaroslavl soon raised to prominence as a commercial center. In 1612, six centuries later, Yaroslavl was the center of resistance to the Polish occupation; and jus forty years prior to that, Tsar Ivan the Terrible took refuge here when the Mongols threatened Moscow. Yaroslavl sits astride the Volga and Kotorosl rivers, just two hundred and fifty kilometers from Russian capital. It was home to Russia’s first public theater, Northern Russia’s first university, and first rubber factory.

Nobody really knows truth of Yaroslavl’s founding, it has been lost in the fog of time, and there are several legends about it. One of the legends, and it is one of my favorite ones, tells about fearsome beast that terrorized locals. This huge beast, a bear, had been sent by the pagan god Veles, as punishment for the acceptance of Christianity by locals in the 10th century. They suffered but dared not return to their old pagan faith. They asked the young prince from Rostov to come and rescue them. According to this legend, Yaroslav arrived and fought Veles’ emissary and killed him with a battle axe. Then Yaroslav stood on the high banks of the river and looked around, and saw thick forests full of game, and rivers with fish. He ordered to found of a city and bestowed upon it his name and seal, which depicted the defeated bear carrying a poleaxe on it shoulder. Well, according to another legend, the residents of a Medvezhy Ugol (figuratively means Godforsaken Hole) were heathens who worshiped the god Veles and who made their living robbing from trade caravans. After learning this, Yaroslav the Wise decided to baptize the pagans defend traders. The locals unleashed a huge bear and pack of wild dogs when Yaroslav arrived with his troops and a priest. Brave Yaroslav dispatched the bear himself, and pagans fell to their knees, accepting Yaroslav’s superior power. It happened on August second, the name of the Prophet Elijah. The prince Yaroslav ordered to build a church in honor of Elijah and in memory of his victory over the bear – here was founded the first Russian Orthodox Christian city on the Volga River.

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