The area around Vladimir City has been a site of human inhabitation for approximately 25,000 years. Traditionally, the founding of Vladimir has been acknowledged as 1108 when Vladimir Monomakh inherited the region as part of Rostov-Suzdal principality in the 12th century. More recently, a new view has emerged that the city is older than 1108. The claim is that a certain Father Georgy possesses chronicle material that mentions the city in 990, associating it with Vladimir Sviatoslavovich (later St. Vladimir), the "father" of Russian Orthodoxy. Some specialists in the history of Vladimir argue there is no archeological or chronicle information, which supports the claim that the city was founded in 990, while others feel there is evidence.
Regardless of which founding date is most accurate, the city's most historically significant events occurred after the turn of the twelfth century. Serving its original purpose as a defensive outpost of the Rostov-Suzdal principality, Vladimir had little political or military influence throughout the region of Vladimir Monomakh (1113-1125), or his son Yuri Dolgoruky (1154-1157). However, Vladimir rose in significance after Prince Andrei Bogolubsky, son of Dolgoruky, officially transferred the throne from Suzdal to Vladimir, thus changing the name of the principality from Rostov-Suzdal to Vladimir-Suzdal in 1157.
Under Princes Andrei Bogolubsky and Vsevolod III "Big Nest" (Bolshoye Gnezdo - so named because he had a large family), Vladimir grew significantly in power and importance, replacing Kiev as the capital of the Grand Principality of Rus in 1169. During this period the Golden Gates and Assumption Cathedral were constructed.
During the reign of Prince Vsevolod III "Big Nest" the city experienced its most substantial growth. Prince Vsevolod preserved and added to the magnificence of the city. He constructed the Kremlin and the Cathedral of St. Demetrius; the Nativity monastery, including a white stone cathedral; the Princess Convent; and the most sacred church in the principality - the Assumption Cathedral. Following Prince Vsevolod's death in 1212, the consolidated "state" (Rus) split into several smaller principalities.
In 1238 Vladimir, like all of Rus, fell under Mongol-Tatar control. This limited the city's ability to unify the multitude of royal thrones. Although the Mongol-Tatar occupation affected the authority of the Vladimir princes, the city's role as the legitimate seat of Russian royalty was confirmed by the official transfer of the Russian metropolitan from Kiev to Vladimir in 1299. Following this transfer of religious power, each successive grand prince of Rus was crowned in Vladimir until 1432.
Beginning in the mid-fourteenth century, Vladimir's power was severely challenged by the rise of the Moscow principality, specifically under Prince Ivan Kalita. The eventual consolidation of Moscow's preeminence, coupled with the stifling effects of Mongol-Tatar occupation, ultimately extinguished Vladimir's ability to flourish as a royal city. However, the exulted role the city played in the formation of the Russian State has assured continued recognition of Vladimir as a prime contributor to Russian politics, culture, and history.
After the rise of Moscow, Vladimir was subordinated to the new capital, but the city continued to develop. At the turn of the 16th century, stone construction was resumed. This period is represented by one of the most poetic architectural creations: the Assumption Cathedral of the Princess Convent. In the 16th to 18th centuries, the city grew beyond the old boundaries as a number of settlements appeared around the old fortress. In the 17th century, the lovely Church of Our Lady was built. And in the 18th century, a large number of wooden parish churches were replaced by stone houses of worship.
In 1778, the province of Vladimir was established, with the City of Vladimir as its administrative center. The development plan for 1781 envisaged the extension of the city's territory, the symmetrical layout of the new districts, and the construction of secular stone buildings.
Along the main street, Bolshaya Moskovskaya, the new construction included a building for the city administration (1785-90) and a number of privately owned stone houses. A whole block was taken up by what is still called "Gostiny Dvor" (the "trading row"). The small shops that sold late 18th / early 19th century items have, of course, been replaced by shops that sell everything from household appliances to souvenirs. But this section of Bolshaya Moskovskaya still reflects its centuries-old origins.
During this same period, a post office was built near the Golden Gates. At the eastern edge of this district, a nursery home was constructed. Opposite the city administration building, the so-called Nobles' Club was built, and nearby a classical school for boys. The Governor's mansion was built near St. Demetrius Cathedral.
Little by little, Vladimir was becoming a "solidly built" city-while not losing its historical profile.
In 1838, the predecessor to today's Moscow to Nizhny Novogorod highway was constructed. In 1860, the first city water system was installed. In 1861, the railway came through Vladimir. In 1887, the first telephones were installed.
At the end of the 19th / beginning of the 20th centuries a number of interesting buildings went up in Vladimir-and added to the city's aesthetic appeal. These included the Church of the Archangel Michael (1893), the city bank (1896), the Historical Museum (1901), the Public Meeting House (1905), a technical high school (1907), a new City Hall (1907), and the Old Believer's Trinity Church (1916). The latter now houses the Museum of Crystal, Lacquer Miniatures, and Embroidery. In the midst of all this construction, in 1909, the first electric power station was built.
The 20th century greatly changed the face of Vladimir. In the 1930s the first industrial plants were built. These specialized in chemical production and machine building. In addition, there are plants manufacturing tractors, electrical motors, automobile parts, and electrical equipment.
After the Great Patriotic War (WWII), buses and trolley buses appeared on the city streets. They are joined today by "mini buses" that also travel fixed routes and taxi cabs-all competing with a growing number of private automobiles. Efforts are underway to route traffic away from the city's historic center.
The city of Vladimir has grown in all directions. Today it is once again a regional capital, boasting two major universities, top-flight drama and puppet theaters, a major concert hall, and a host of talented performers, artists, and artisans. Culture is alive and well in this community with roots set deeply in ancient Rus. And the entrepreneurial spirit is also thriving-as testified to by the growing number of private businesses, including first-class apartments, restaurants, and places of entertainment.
As you examine the history of Vladimir, you will find that around almost every corner you will encounter fascinating stories and legends. These tales enrich the academic study of Russian history. In a journey through the rich history of Vladimir, truth and fiction mingle to create a magical impression of the city's true grandeur. sian history. Moreover, it is these very stories, regardless of their factual accuracy, which define this beautifully majestic city. In a journey through the extraordinary history of Vladimir, truth and fiction mingle to create a magical impression of grandeur and bewilderment.