Vladimir is over one thousand years old. According to the chronicles the town was founded at the end of the 10th century and named after Kievan Prince Vladimir the Baptizer. However, archeologists date the foundation of the town back to the beginning of the 12th century, and associate its name with Prince Vladimir Monomach who fortified the city at the beginning of the 12th century. In the middle of the 12th century Vladimir became the capital of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality and North-Eastern Russia.
For more than 250 years Vladimir played a very important part in the history of Russia, being the capital of the ancient Russian state. Up to 1432, Grand Princes of Russia were crowned in the Vladimir Cathedral of the Assumption. The town reached the climax of its historical significance in the middle of the 12th - the beginning of the 13th centuries under Prince Andrey Bogolubsky and his brother Vsevolod "Grand Nest". It was the time when the basis of the new state was being laid, when international trade and cultural ties were developing vigorously, and Vladimir school of architecture was taking shape.
The Cathedral of the Assumption is the world known monument of architecture. The original cathedral was built in the center of the city on a high bank of the Klyazma River in 1158-1160 under Prince Andrey Bogolubsky. Not only was it to be the main church of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality, its cultural, political and religious center, but it was to become the main church of all Russia. In September 1164 a most worshiped icon of Russia - the Miraculous Icon of Mother of God - was brought into the cathedral. Since then the image has been called the Vladimirskaya Icon of Mother of God. During the reign of Prince Vsevolod III, after the fire of 1185 the cathedral was rebuilt to become five-domed. Despite the reverses of historical fortune, the glory of the cathedral was long and unshakable. Up to 1432, Moscow sovereigns received the title of the Grand Prince of Russia in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Vladimir.
The interior of Cathedral displays the ornaments and wall paintings which go back to the 12th -13th centuries, and the wall paintings of the 15th century by Andrei Rublev and Daniil Chyorny. The Cathedral of the Assumption had long been a model for ancient architects. So was it for the Italian architect Aristotle Fioravanti when he was commissioned with building the Assumption Cathedral in Moscow Kremlin in 1475-79.
The Cathedral of St. Dmitry was built in 1194-1197 in the reign of Prince Vsevolod III who dedicated it to his heavenly patron St. Demetrius of Salonica. It used to be part of the buildings of the prince's court, and was one of the most beautiful and original cathedrals of ancient Russia. The most amazing feature of the cathedral is its white stone carving. The sculptured decoration having about 1500 carved stones develops a sophisticated philosophy of life. All the carvings communicate the general idea of glorifying the beauty and perfection of the world created by God. The Cathedral of St. Dmitry is a synthesis of arts, traditions and cultures.
The Golden Gate is the only remaining monument of military engineering architecture of ancient Russia. The gate was built in 1158-64, under Prince Andrey Bogolubsky. It was the main, most spectacular, and imposing gate of North-Eastern Russia's capital. Such gates had been erected in big cities of the Christian world starting with the gate in Constantinople that commemorated the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem through the Golden Gate of the city. The gateway of the Golden Gate in Vladimir was closed with heavy oak gates covered with Arabian copper that was probably gilded. The gate served not only as defense fortifications but also as a triumphal arch leading to the capital's rich aristocratic residential quarter. It was at the Golden gate that foreign ambassadors and noble guests were welcomed. Prince's troops passed through the gateway to defend their Motherland or on their way back from their victorious campaigns. The Golden Gate in Vladimir is unique in being the only one surviving (though with some alterations) of the Golden Gates that existed in the Middle Ages in Jerusalem, Constantinople and Kiev.
After the raise of Moscow Vladimir subordinated to the new capital. At the turn of the 16th century stone construction was resumed. This period is represented by one of the most poetic creations - the Assumption cathedral of the Princess Convent. In the 16-18th centuries the city exceeded the old bounders; a number of settlements appeared around the old fortress. In the 17th century a lovely church of Our Lady was built. And in the 18th century a big number of stone parish churches were constructed replacing the wooden ones.
The seat of Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky was located in a small town Bogolyubovo, which is located close to Vladimir. The remains of Prince Palace dated by the 12th century are still there. There is a church not so far from Bogolyubovo which is considered to be a real masterpiece of the ancient Russian architecture. This is the Church of Intercession on Nerl River built in 1165 by the order of Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky. The moderate tracery ornament contributes to the quiet beauty of the Church. The delicate proportions of facades turn us to a romantic story of the old times.