Directory 50rus Comments and Suggestions
Moscow Region — 50rus

town of ZARAYSK 3


Zaraysk (Zaraisk, ) — district center at the South-East of Moscow region. Population — 26 thousands (2004), coordinates 54°46´ N, 38°53´ E. Picturesque location at the bank of River Osyotr — a right tributary of River Oka.

Zaraysk was founded prior to 13th century, first as a part of Ryazan' principality. As many other Russian towns at the time, it was (in 1237) destroyed by the Mongol troops of Batu Khan. After the invasion, it was restored and after some time joined Moscow principality. Until 17th century Zaraysk was a frontier fortress between Moscow and the Great Steppe — so called Big Barrier Line. To provide defense against Tartars, in 16th century a stone kremlin — an old Russian fortress — was built, definitely not in vain — several Tartar raids were repelled, the last one in 1570. At the Time of Troubles — the period in the beginning of 17th century, when Russia was in chaos and the statehood was in danger — the town supported the uprising of Ivan Bolotnikov, and as the result was destroyed by the army of the central government of Muscovy. In 1610, Prince Dmitry Pozharsky , later known as an organizer of the volunteer army and regarded as a national hero, was appointed voevoda (military governor) of Zaraysk. He managed to repel the attack of advancing Polish troops lead by False Dimitry. With the Time of Troubles, wars leave Zaraysk. Between 17th and the beginning of 19th centuries Zaraysk established itself as an important trade center, but lost its significance in the second half of 19th century, when the highway and the railroad from Moscow to Ryazan' and further South bypassed the town.

 What to see

Time required: 2-4 hours

Why to visit Zaraysk: old Russian town with a well-preserved kremlin. Splendid wooden architecture.

Kremlin. Photo: Denis Kabanov

Kremlin. Photo: Denis Kabanov

Zaraysk kremlin (1525-1530) was built for defense from Tartar raids. It is a regular (meaning built according to a project) rectangular fortress with 8 towers and 4 gates. Walls and gates are fully preserved (Zaraysk has the only fully preserved kremlin in Moscow Region, which does not include Moscow). The kremlin is almost empty. The most remarkable building inside is Nikol'sky Sobor (St. Nicholas Cathedral, 1681), built in old Russian tradition after an order by Tsar Fyodor Alekseevich to accomodate the wondermaking ikon of St. Nicholas (Nikola of Zaraysk). Services are not performed regularly, and the cathedral is usually closed. Neo-classical Predtechensky Sobor (Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 1901), regular services.

Posad — the old residential area around the kremlin (17th — 20th centuries). It contains a number of remarkable buildings such as Trade arcades (18th century), Il'inskaya Tserkov' (St. Iliya Church, 1819, with the bell-tower from the end of 19th century, Krasnoarmeyskaya ulitsa), Troitskaya Tserkov' (Trinity Church, 1776, ploshchad' Revolyutsii), Blagoveshchenskaya Tserkov' (Annunciation Church, 1777, with the refectory and bell-tower built later, ulitsa Dzerzhinskogo), and also many wooden buildings. Sadly, currently Posad is being destroyed — wooden houses demolished, and tasteless mansions of "New Russians" erected in their place. This is despite the fact that many houses are (were) protected as architectural monuments. We give the list of buildings protected by the federal law:

  • Dwelling house, end of 18th — beginning of 19th centuries, ulitsa Dzerzhinskogo, 64.
  • Building of the Town Treasury, 1st half of 19th century, ulitsa Karla Marksa, 2/6.
  • Mansion, 19th century, ulitsa Karla Marksa, 36 & 38.
  • Loktev house, 18th — beginning of 19th century, ulitsa Karla Marksa, 39/19.
  • Ivanov house, 18th — beginning of 19th century, ulitsa Karla Marksa, 42.
  • Building of the Town Council, 19th century, ulitsa Karla Marksa, 49.
  • Dwelling house, end of 17th century, ulitsa Karla Marksa, 52.
  • Lapin house, middle of 19th century, ulitsa Nizova, 10/25.
  • Mansion, beginning of 19th century, Pervomayskaya ulitsa, 26/5.
  • Dwelling house, end of 17th century, Pervomayskaya ulitsa, 45.

Posad. Photo: Yaroslav Blanter

Posad. Photo: Yaroslav Blanter

"White Well" Spring — chapel and bathing but at the place where in 1225 Prince Feodor Yurievich has met a wondermaking icon of St. Nicholas (Nikola of Zaraysk), which was then kept in St. Nicholas Cathedral till 1918.

Narrow-gauge railroad of Zaraysk Plant of Construction Blocks — acting, electrified (the only electrified narrow-gauge railroad in Moscow region and one of the few in Russia). Actually, since the railroad is on the premises of an acting plant, the visit requires some negotiations with the staff. If you are not a railroad fan, probably you do not want to visit anyway, and if you are one and do not speak Russian, it is recommended that you come in contact with Russian railroad fans in advance.


Zaraysk Museum of Art, History, and Architecture: ploschad' Revolyutsii, 2 (next to the bus station). Opening hours: 9:00 - 18:00, closed Monday and the last day of each month (2001). Occupies the building of Trinity Church. The main exposition is in two rooms: history, ethnographic displays, painting (including the collection of merchant portraits), nature. Guided tours, including Kremlin, are available.

Museum-House of Anna Golubkina, a famous Russian modernist sculptor who studied in Rodin's workshop. Golubkina was born, worked for a long time, and died in this house. Address: ulitsa Dzerzhinskogo, 38. At the time of writing was being renovated.

 Around Zaraysk

Dostoevsky Estate in the village of Darovoe. oordinates 54°41´ N, 38°45´ E. The author spent here his childhood and often visited as an adult. A wing mansion and a park are preserved. Opening hours: 9:00 — 18:00, closed Monday, Tuesday, and the last day of each month (2001). To get there: take a bus from Zaraysk to Monogarovo (destination Zhuravna or Serebryanye Prudy).

 Practical Information

Time: Moscow time (GMT +3).

How to get there. A bus from Moscow (bus station Vykhino — metro station Vykhino, 2h40), Kolomna (train station Golutvin), or Ryazan'. The bus station is 200m from the side entrance to the kremlin. Last bus to Moscow leaves at 17:00 (Dec 2004). Bus schedules in Russian can be found here or here. Buses leave in both directions between 4:00 and 17:00 roughly every hour.

By car: From Moscow or Ryzan' M5 to Lukhovitsy, then turn to Zaraysk. 150 km from Moscow Ring road, 88 km from Ryazan'.

There is no passenger traffic at the railroad from Lukhovitsy.

Where to eat. Café - Restaurant Osyotr: corner of ulitsa Karla Marksa and ulitsa Gulyaeva, one block from the water-tower (five minutes walk from the bus station). Some food can also be bought at the market square (next to the bus station).

Where to stay. Hotel Zaraysk: ulitsa Karla Marksa, 1 (North end of the street — furthest from the bus station). Single room: 120 roubles (Summer 2004). We do not know whether they would register your visa. If you are travelling from Moscow or Ryazan', it could be convenient to visit Zaraysk on a day trip.

 Additional Resources



 Photo - Kremlin

Photo: Denis Kabanov

Photo: Denis Kabanov

Photo: Denis Kabanov

Photo: Denis Kabanov

Photo: Denis Kabanov

Photo: Denis Kabanov

Photo: Denis Kabanov Photo: Yaroslav Blanter

Photo: Denis Kabanov (left), Yaroslav Blanter (right).

St. Nicholas Cathedral. 
        Photo: Yaroslav Blanter Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. 
        Photo: Denis Kabanov

Left: St. Nicholas Cathedral. Photo: Yaroslav Blanter. Right: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Photo: Denis Kabanov

St. Nicholas Cathedral. 
        Photo: Denis Kabanov

St. Nicholas Cathedral, photo: Denis Kabanov

 © Photo by the authors

 Photo - Town

Photo: Yaroslav Blanter St. Iliya Church. Photo: Denis Kabanov

Left: photo: Yaroslav Blanter. Right: St. Iliya Church. Photo: Denis Kabanov.

Trinity Church. Photo: Denis Kabanov

Trinity Church. Photo: Denis Kabanov.

Zaraysk Narrow-gauge railroad. 
        Photo: Denis Kabanov

Zaraysk Narrow-gauge Railroad. Photo: Denis Kabanov.

 © Photo by the authors

Directory 50rus Comments and Suggestions

  Authors of this page: Yaroslav Blanter, Denis Kabanov. Last updated: 29.01.06.
  2004—2006 © Guide to Russia (Authors). All Rights Reserved.