FolkestoneJack's Tracks

By train to Sergiev Posad

Posted in Moscow, Russia, Sergiev Posad by folkestonejack on January 17, 2007

I took my usual early breakfast at 7am and then braved the metro in rush hour, reaching Yaroslavsky station in time for the 9.10 train to Sergiev Posad. I bought my ticket (R88 one way) in the main building without any great difficulty and then walked outside to a separate long building with entrance gates to the platforms. The suburban railway tickets are issued as fairly flimsy, small printed receipts with a barcode which has to be inserted into a reader in the gates in order to gain access. I found the train to Sergiev Posad on platform 6. Unlike the trains I had been on in St Petersburg this was a fairly modern grey liveried unit with comfortable seats and good heating, making it for a comfortable and relaxing journey for the 75km north. The train ran fast to Sergiev Posad and took almost exactly one hour.

I was struck by the snowy landscapes the further north we travelled, having seen no sight of snow settled on the ground in Moscow itself. Sergiev Posad itself had plenty of ice and snow, although the roads themselves were fairly clear suggesting that the snow had been there a while. I walked across the railway lines at one end of the station and then out onto a road that I thought would take me to the monastery. It turned out to the wrong road so I turned back and found a road that would take me in the right direction, with a distant view of the domes to guide me!

Reaching the monastery you couldn’t help but be impressed by the thick fortress walls and it felt amazing to walk through the gatehouse into the complex. I stopped at a small booth to purchase a photo permit for the grounds, at a cost of R100, but was told that the buildings were all closed. The woman behind the counter said I could pay for one of their guides, who would be able to take me into the buildings, at a price in excess of R1500. I said I would just look around the grounds instead!

As it turned out, I think this was something of a sales-pitch as the cathedrals were open and I was able to go inside both the Trinity Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Assumption. I was respectful of the fact these were working churches and didn’t just wander around inside freely. I thought the interior of the Cathedral of the Assumption was simply stunning and spent quite some time admiring the five-tiered iconostasis. The interior of the Trinity Cathedral was impressive too, with another exquisite iconostasis and there was a queue of pilgrims filing past the silver shrine holding the remains of St Sergius.

I wandered around the grounds looking at the other buildings in the complex and taking photographs, as well as stopping to look at the tomb of Tsar Boris Godunov. The bell tower and monk’s refectory were indeed closed to visitors and other parts of the complex in the direction of the Carpenters’ Tower looked they as though were undergoing serious restoration work.

After completing my visit I decided to walk around the outside wall of the monastery, taking the treacherously icy path around the duck tower and down towards a viewpoint by the river. The fortress-monastery certainly looks impressive from such a distance.

Unfortunately, on the walk back to the station (stopping off to look at the war memorial) I got lost and walked way too far down Krasnoi Armii whilst looking for the station turning. I don’t suppose it helped that I was taking a different route back (this was the way I had intended to walk in the first place). I groaned when I backtracked – realising that I had been metres away from the station at one point and had actually turned away from it!

Anyway, it was good to reach the station in the end and bought a ticket back to Moscow (R74 one way). This time the train was one of the standard green units that I was familiar with from St Petersburg, furnished with wooden benches rather than the padded seats of the train in the morning. Unfortunately this train also stopped along the way, taking about an hour and a half to reach Moscow – roughly around 3pm.

I took the opportunity to return to VDNKh and have a second look at the All Russia Exhibition Centre as I knew I had missed some of the pavilions previously and wanted to wander round to complete the list, which turned out to a nice way to end the day – I found some of the beautiful pavilions that were hidden off back streets and around the back of the larger buildings. Finally, the sun set (4.29pm) and I took a last few photos before heading to My-My at Alekseevskaya for my evening meal.