Have you ever heard of Yaroslavl? It was fun to visit a city that I’d never heard of, let alone could pronounce. Of course now, I love the way it rolls off my tongue: yar-oh-slav-el.
I was invited to Russia to speak at Visit Russia 2012, a forum on tourism. I spoke on how to work with travel journalists and getting more coverage. I experienced this first hand since I did visit St Petersburg on assignment for one of the magazines for which I write. And no one there seemed to care or want to help me, so this certainly gave me ideas and fodder for my speech.
Upon arrival in the city, I was a guest of the Governor of Yaroslavl at a welcome lunch for the ‘expert’ speakers (I somehow slipped in here as an expert!). It was all pretty surreal as I was never even sure how they chose me, but who was I to argue?!
Once the conference was over we were taken on a tour of the city.
Yaroslavl is a city and the administrative center of Yaroslavl Oblast (like a region or province), Russia, located 250 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Moscow. The historic part of the city, a World Heritage Site, is located at the meeting point of the Volga and the Kotorosl Rivers.
It part of the Golden Ring, about a dozen historic cities northeast of Moscow that have played an important role in Russian history and the creation of the Russian Orthodox church – which is picturesquely apparent from all the pretty “onion-dome” churches around. I noticed that onion domes often appear in groups of three or five. I learned that this wasn’t just for aesthetic reasons — it represents either the Holy Trinity, or Jesus Christ and the Four Evangelists.
I just happened to be visiting on the city’s birthday – everyone was out celebrating, couples, families, friends – enjoying the sunny, joyful day. It felt like the 4th of July, except everyone was out enjoying the city like a big public street festival instead of hiding in his or her own backyards.
Yaroslavl is home to the Volkov Theater which first opened to the public in 1750, making it Russia’s first theatre.