One of the oldest monasteries found in the Volga region is the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery. Together with the historical city center of Yaroslavl, it has made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage Site List. Originally founded in the 12th century, the monastery and its surrounding building are the oldest in the city. It goes by several names, most commonly known as either Spassky or The Transfiguration of the Savior monastery, making it easy to get confused when reading about it. The buildings, as they stand today, were mostly erected during the 16th century as a result of rebuilding the area after fires in 1501. This is also the case for the historical surrounding area.
This beautiful complex of buildings is very often wrongfully referred to as the Kremlin of Yaroslavl. The original Kremlin was destroyed in the aftermath of the revolution in Russia. However, the monastery was built with this function in mind, as many were in the Middle Ages. Should there be a time of war, it would not only be a place of worship, but also a kremlin and a citadel if it was needed. The thick white wall surrounding the complex, with watchtowers and battlements, still stands as a witness to this purpose. The monastery remained impervious was one of the main reasons why Russian peasants could defend the city and later move on to liberate Moscow from Polish-Lithuanian occupation.
Having had an important place in history, Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery continues to play an important role. Its many buildings and towers host several exhibitions where you can learn more about the region and its story. The two most interesting ones must be said to be the Treasures of Yaroslavl and the ancient Russian art and icons collection. Being one of the richest and best-fortified monasteries in Russia in the 16th century, the treasures are quite a sight with a wealth of gold, silver and jewels. The only surviving manuscript of the Tale of Igor's Campaign, an epic piece of Russian literature, was found in the library here, and can now be seen on display in a permanent exhibition within the monastery. Visiting the Monastery. With hotel accommodation centrally located in Yaroslavl, it is easy to explore the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery, with its many buildings and museums. If you climb to the top of the monastery's 40-meter bell tower, located next to the monastery, you will see incredible views over the city's entire historic center.