Kostroma is a historic city in central Russia, administrative center of the Kostroma Oblast. A part of the Golden ring of the Russian towns, it is located at the confluence of the rivers Volga and Kostroma, 65 km east of Yaroslavl.
The city was first recorded in the chronicles for the year 1213, but historians believe it could have been founded by Yury Dolgoruky more than half a century earlier. Like other towns of the Eastern Rus, Kostroma was sacked by the Mongols in 1238. As one of the northernmost towns of Muscovy, Kostroma served for grand dukes as a place of retreat when enemies besieged Moscow in 1382, 1408, and 1433. The spectacular growth of the city in the 16th century may be attributed to the establishment of trade connections with English and Dutch merchants through the northern port of Archangel. Boris Godunov had the Ipatievsky and Epiphany monasteries rebuilt in stone. The construction works were finished just in time for the city to witness some of the most dramatic events of the Time of Troubles. Kostroma was twice ravaged by the Poles; it took a 6-month siege to expel them from the Ipatievsky monastery. The heroic peasant Ivan Susanin became a symbol of the city’s resistance to foreign invaders; several monuments to him may be seen in Kostroma. The future tsar, Michael Romanov, also lived at the monastery. It was here that an embassy from Moscow offered him the Russian crown in 1612. It is understandable why the Romanov tsars regarded Kostroma as their special protectorate. The Ipatievsky Monastery was visited by many of them, including Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar. The monastery had been founded in the early 14th century by a Tatar prince, ancestor of the Godunov family. The Romanov tsars had the magnificent Trinity cathedral rebuilt in 1652; its frescoes and iconostasis are a thing of beauty. In 1773, a great fire devastated Kostroma. Afterwards the city was rebuilt with streets radiating from a single focal point near the river. They say that Empress Catherine dropped her fan on the city map, and told the architects to follow her design. One of the best preserved examples of the 18th century town planning, Kostroma retains some elegant structures in a “provincial neoclassical” style. These include a governor’s palace, a fire tower, a rotunda on the Volga embankment, and an arcaded central market with a merchant church in the center.
Take a bus city tour to Kostroma’s set of stalls, which is one of the largest commercial centers of Russia of the end of XVIII – beginning of XIX century, remaining until our days, and discover Ipatievsky Monastery, which is rightfully considered one of the oldest in Russia.