Filled with ancient architecture and gentle peace of life, Kostroma is one of the most beautiful and historic cities of Russia’s Golden Ring. Kostroma was founded in 1152. It is located on the picturesque banks of the great Volga river, just 344 km or a four-hour drive from Moscow.
Founded by the Russian prince Yury Dolgoruky, it is only five years younger than Moscow. By the 13th century Kostroma had already become one of the richest cities in the country.
According to the legend, the town got its name from a Slavic Goddess Kostroma. There is another version which says that the origin of the word “Kostroma” is a Russian word “костер” meaning “the fire”. In Finno-Ugric language “Kostroma” means “the land of vengeance” or “the
land of atonement”. (In Finnish “the land of vengeance” is “kosto maa”, in Estonian – “kättemaksu”.) Obviously, it seems almost impossible that the Russian prince might have given such a symbolical name to the town that he had founded.
The Trinity-Ipatiev Monastery is probably the most famous architectural ensemble in Kostroma. It has hardly changed in almost 700 years. Founded by a Tatar convert, Prince Chet, whose male-line descendants included future tsar Boris Godunov, the Monastery used to be a center of medieval Russian chronicle writing, with a jewel in the crown – the Primary Chronicle, now known as the Ipatiev Codex.
The Trinity-Ipatiev Monastery and Kostroma are closely related to the Romanov family. By 1613 having witnessed a succession of Tsars attempting to take the throne, people were in need of a ruling hand to bring back order. They chose a timid sixteen-year-old adolescent named Mikhail Romanov who lived in exile in the Ipatiev Monastery. So this was how the three-hundred-year rule of the Romanov dynasty began.
According to the legend, during a visit to Kostroma Catherine the Great opened her fan and ordered to reconstruct central streets that had been completely destroyed by the fire in the form of a fan. Later, the Tsarine granted the town the emblem representing a sailing bark.
The history of the town is closely connected with the name of 19th-century Russian playwright Aleksandr Ostrovsky. His plays have been holding the stage of the Ostrovsky Drama Theatre for more that 100 years and the theatre is one of the most popular places to go in Kostroma. The Pavilion of Ostrovsky is overlooking the Volga river and it is the place where you are likely to go if you feel like having a romantic walk.
Kostroma has always attracted filmmakers by the picturesque bank of the Volga river with beautiful vistas, rich merchants’ 19th century mansions and the atmosphere of an ancient Russian town. A lot of movies were made on Kostroma land.