Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl
Situated at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl Rivers some 250 km north-east of Moscow, the historic city of Yaroslavl developed into a major commercial centre from the 11th century. It is renowned for its numerous 17th-century churches and is an outstanding example of the urban planning reform Empress Catherine the Great ordered for the whole of Russia in 1763. While keeping some of its significant historic structures, the town was renovated in the neoclassical style on a radial urban master plan. It has also kept elements from the 16th century in the Spassky Monastery, one of the oldest in the Upper Volga region, built on the site of a pagan temple in the late 12th century but reconstructed over time.
Justification for Inscription
Criterion (ii): The historic town of Yaroslavl with its 17th century churches and its Neo-classical radial urban plan and civic architecture is an outstanding example of the interchange of cultural and architectural influences between Western Europe and Russian Empire.
Criterion (iv): Yaroslavl is an outstanding example of the town-planning reform ordered by Empress Catherine The Great in the whole of Russia, implemented between 1763 and 1830.
The historic town of Yaroslavl with its 17th-century churches and its neoclassical radial urban plan and civic architecture is an outstanding example of the interchange of cultural and architectural influences between Western Europe and the Russian Empire, coupled with the town-planning reform ordered by Empress Catherine the Great in the whole of Russia, implemented between 1763 and 1830.
Yaroslavl is situated on the Volga at its confluence with the Kotorosl River. The origins of the city go back to the early 11th century, when there was a small wooden fortress. From the 13th century it belonged to the territory of Rostov and Yaroslavl started developing: in 1463, Yaroslavl Grand Duchy joined the powerful Moscow state. After several fires, the original wooden town was gradually rebuilt in stone, starting from the 16th century. It acquired its present-day form and structure mainly as a result of the major urban reform in 1763, ordered by Catherine the Great for the whole country. Some of the existing streets and structures were retained in this renewal process, which lasted from 1770 to the 1830s.
The site consists of the historic centre of the city, the Slobody, forming roughly a half circle with radial streets from the centre. It is essentially neoclassical in style, with harmonious and uniform streetscapes. Most residential and public buildings are two to three storeys high along wide streets and urban squares. There is a large number of churches with onion cupolas, and monastic ensembles, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries and having valuable mural paintings and iconostases.
Spassky Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries found in the Upper Volga region. It was built on the site of a pagan temple in the late 12th century. The oldest surviving buildings date from the 16th century (Cathedral of Transfiguration, Refectory, Holy Gate, Bell Tower).
The Church of the Epiphany has five cupolas, and its red-brick facades are decorated with polychrome tiles; the interior was painted in 1692-93. Other churches include the Church of St Nicholas Nadein, the Church of the Nativity, with a unique bell tower, and the Church of Elijah the Prophet, which became the focus of the classicist radial town plan of Yaroslavl.
One block away from the Volga, a main avenue runs parallel to the river, crossing the Soviet (Iliinskaya) square, which forms the focal point of the historic town. The centre area is surrounded by a boulevard forming a semicircle, Ushinsky Street, built in the 17th century immediately behind the city's defences. The boulevard crosses Volkov square, the starting point for the road to Uglich.
On the embankment of Volga, there are a number of significant neoclassical buildings, e.g. the metropolitan's residence (originally built in the 1680s), Church of Saints Elijah and Tychen, Volga Tower (a defence tower from 1685), Volga Gate (early 19th-century elevations), Ensemble of the former Governor-General's house, Deduylin house, Ensemble of the Nativity (17th century).
The focal point of the Soviet Square ensemble, built in the mid-17th to 18th centuries, is the Church of Elijah the Prophet with its rich decorations and wall paintings. The buildings of the Government Offices include some of the first construction according to the 1770 town plan built in early classical style.
Volkov Square originated as a place for small traders. In the early 19th century, a theatre was built here (first in timber, then in stone); this was replaced by a new structure in 1911, still in the neoclassical style. On the square there is also one of the remaining defence towers, St Blase Tower, built from stone after a fire in the 17th century. Ushinsky Street has a number of interesting buildings in classical style. Some of these buildings have been rebuilt or renovated towards the end of the 19th century, thus representing a variety of styles, from classicism to Rococo and neoclassical.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
The city of Yaroslavl, in 2010, will celebrate its 1000th anniversary from the foundation,. Initially, there was a small wooden fortress. In the 12th century, two monasteries were built next to this: Spassky monastery on Kotorosl, and Petrovsky monastery on the Volga, and the place became an outpost of Christianity. In the 13th century, it belonged to the territory of Rostov (a town with an important bishop's residence, ‘Kremlin'). From this time, Yaroslavl started developing and it became the centre of a grand duchy. In 1463, Yaroslavl Grand Duchy joined the powerful Moscow state.
After several fires, the original wooden town was gradually rebuilt in stone starting from the 16th century. Yaroslavl grew in importance becoming the second city in the state. Through the Volga river, it was in trading contacts with Persia and India as well as with Ottoman Turks. Moscow also developed its contacts with Western European trading centres. As a result, foreign trade companies and craftsmen started arriving to establish businesses. The 17th century is considered the golden age of Yaroslavl, and for example some 50 new churches were built in stone.
In 1711 and 1762, there were several fires, which damaged the city's trading position, though its development continued. In 1769, a new town plan was adopted, revised in 1778. This plan was radial in its centre part, and based on a rectangular grid towards the west. Even though following the new guidelines imposed by the Empress, the town plan took into account the existing situation, and kept parts of the street network and historic building stock, where the most significant historical structures (churches, mediaeval towers) were used as visual and compositional dominants of a new plan.
The construction activities continued well into the 19th century, when some of the old fabric was renovated in a more formal manner in the downtown area. At the end of the 19th century, Yaroslavl once again experienced a fast growing period. This time, a number of industries were brought into the city. The number of inhabitants increased from 52,000 in 1887 to 109,000 in 1913. At this time, also a number of new functions were introduced, including hotels, restaurants, banks and offices.
In the 20th century, Yaroslavl has gone through problematic times like most other cities in Russia. The 1920s and 1930s, as well as 1960s and 1970s, have been periods with many losses particularly in religious ensembles. Also Yaroslavl had changes but fortunately much less than elsewhere. The development took place on the outskirts of the city, and relatively few new constructions came into the old centre. In the 1990s, Yaroslavl has once again started developing, but this time with full consciousness of its cultural inheritance. The churches and monasteries are being rehabilitated and opened again for worshipers. At the present, the municipal area of Yaroslavl has some 600,000 inhabitants.Source: Advisory Body Evaluation