Vologda is a large, historic city that is just a little too far north to be included in the famous “Golden Ring” of cities around Moscow. But it has cathedrals, it has a Kremlin, it has a lot of character and sits on a beautiful river, also called Vologda, which makes for spectacular photography along the embankment.
If you head for the centre of town the first place you will find is the Kremlin Gardens, an area of trees, hills and ponds leading to the riverside embankment. There are play areas, inflatables, boats you can hire on the pond, and stalls selling refreshments. You will have to watch out for cyclists, rollerbladers, skateboarders, and the current vogue is those “hoverboards” – just a board for your feet with one wheel each side, that you steer by shifting your weight.
There are one or two interesting sculptures here, including the ambiguous “Monument to the letter O” and a statue of the writer Pushkin’s celebrated student, Badanovsky. Across the river you can see more than one church.
Walking down the embankment you pass the Kremlin walls and the large whitewashed cathedral of St Sophia, the oldest building in Vologda. There are some museums here, there is a museum of lace, which is Vologda’s speciality industry.
The walk along the embankment is delightful, especially in the evening as the sun is setting. Any picture you take of the river has everything reflected perfectly – churches, bridges, rows of old houses. There is more sculpture here – one is a Monument to the First Street Lamp – it’s basically just a street lamp, but with a sculpture of a cheeky dog at the base doing what dogs have been doing to street lamps for over 100 years.
Elsewhere in the city there are the usual things you expect to find in a Russian city. There are war memorials. There is a statue of Lenin – interestingly, the smallest one I have seen on my travels so far. The city contains many old, wooden buildings, some appear on the verge of collapse but are still in use.
The city is a transport hub, and we were twice delayed entering the city having to wait for very long freight trains to pass. We stayed 2 nights in Vologda, it happens to have two excellent restaurants, the steak house “Barbary” which I highly recommend, and the middle-eastern flavoured Zvezda Vostoka.
Definitely a beautiful city that I would recommend visiting.