Kostroma Travel Guide
Kostroma is a cosy and hospitable Russian city with a unique atmosphere and Russian Empire spirit.
Standing on the banks of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers, it boasts lovely embankments and numerous historical sites.
Kostroma is located 370 kilometres from Moscow. Its population numbers 300 000 people. The city of Kostroma was founded in 1152 by Prince Yury Dolgoruky. In the Russian chronicles, the city was first mentioned as late as 1213, when Kostroma was devastated and burned. In 1238, Kostroma was attacked by the Tatar-Mongols.
There are two different versions of the origin of the city’s name. The word Kostroma could come from the Finno-Ugric word kostrum, which means a fortress. The second version is related to paganism.
During pagan holidays, a straw doll followed by dancing was called Kostroma, and then the doll was burned or dumped into the river. Paganism was strong in the villages around Kostroma. Rituals involving a doll were held until the 19th century.
In the middle of the 14th century, Kostroma became part of the Moscow principality. It was also an important trading base and attracted eastern and Russian merchants. During the fire of 1413, 30 buildings were burned in Kostroma.
The period from 1425 to 1450 was especially difficult for Kostroma, as there were endless battles over Russia’s lands. Kostroma was located between the Moscow and Galicia Principalities, which competed with each other. Therefore, Kostroma was often pillaged by both the Moscow and Galician princes. The Kazan Tatars also attacked Kostroma. During the Time of Troubles, Kostroma survived difficult times. In 1608, the Poles invaded the city. In neighbouring Galich, a popular uprising took place. The militia liberated Galich and then Kostroma.
Soon, the popular movement in Kostroma was suppressed. A year later, a new militia attacked the Poles from Kostroma. The survivors settled in the Ipatiev
Monastery and remained there for more than six months. As a result, the wall of the monastery was blown up, and the Russians were victorious. In 1612, the Polish interventionists were expelled from Russia’s lands.
Kostroma was the birthplace of new Russian Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov. It’s also the homeland of Russian national hero and martyr Ivan Susanin. Among Kostroma’s attractions, there is a museum dedicated to Ivan Susanin in the village of Susanino, on Sovetskaya Street. During the Soviet period, many churches were destroyed by the Bolsheviks.
On 13 August 1944, Kostroma became the administrative centre of the newly formed Kostroma region. In 1950-1980, the textile, electronics and woodworking industries grew rapidly.
Where to Stay
Kostroma is a popular city among tourists, and most attractions are within walking distance. Most hotels are located on the Volga River embankment, near Gostiny Dvor and the Fire Tower. If you want to admire the incredible view of the Volga from a balcony, take a look at Boutique Hotel Ostrovsky Prichal.
It offers good access to the city’s main attractions. Moskovskaya Zastava Hotel is just 10 minutes’ walk from the beach. Ya-Hotel, Dom Na Sennom and Boutique Hotel Old Street are located in the heart of Kostroma. You can also book an apartment or a guest house in the city.
Bars and Restaurants
Despite the size of the city, it’s easy to find a nice restaurant or café here. To try local and international cuisine, have dinner at Izbushka. It’s a modern, chilled-out café where they serve various salads, vareniki (dumplings), fried perch and traditional Russian soups like borshch, solyanka or shchi. Slaviansky is a popular place where you can try vodka-based beverages and meat dishes prepared to traditional Russian recipes. Hundertwasser is named after a famous Austrian architect. Come here to relax with a cup of coffee. Dudki-Bar, Old Pier and Volga are also recommended by both locals and tourists alike.
What to See
- The Ipatiev Monastery is located between the Volga and the Kostroma River. The monastery, founded in 1330, was a kind of fortress on the Volga. In the 16th century, the monastery was surrounded by stone walls, and a number of monastic buildings were also made of stone. In 1613, Trinity Cathedral saw the solemn ceremony to elect Michael Romanov. The first Tsar lived here with his mother. It was referred to as the cradle of the Romanovs. The beautiful Trinity Cathedral is also an outstanding highlight of any visit.
- The Fire Tower is a prominent architectural monument from the 19th century, located on Susaninskaya Square. It is one of five buildings that form the main complex of the Kostroma Historical, Architectural and Art Museum. Today, it includes an excursion department of the museum and storage facilities. The Fire Tower was built on the order of Governor K.I. Baumgarten. At the end of 1823, architect P.I. Fursov developed a draft of the building and a budget for its construction. Construction works were carried out between 1824 and 1825 by A. Stepanov, while S.F. Babakin and S.S. Povirznev, two sculptors from Yaroslavl, continued working on the project from 1825 to 1827. When visiting Kostroma in 1834, Emperor Nicholas I was fascinated by the building.
- The Museum of Wooden Architecture was founded in 1958. It is located in the area around the Ipatiev Monastery. The museum is very unusual, as all of its exhibits are located outdoors and represent examples of the religious and residential architecture of the past. Susaninskaya Square is a huge square in the centre of Kostroma. Here, you will see large arcades from the ancient markets, the firewatch tower, the Guard House and the palace of General Borshov. The latter was built between 1819 and 1824. Borshov was a hero of the Patriotic War of 1812. In 1849, the building became a hotel (Hotel London).
- The Bogoyavlensky (Epiphany) Monastery is a church surrounded by strong walls and several massive towers. It’s open to the public, so don’t miss the chance to visit it.
- The old shopping arcades were built in 1796. Here, there were large market halls. Some of these arcades became sophisticated modern stores, but many of them still stand empty.
- The Guard House (Gauptvakhta) is a museum not far from the Fire Tower.
- The Drama Theatre is one of the oldest theatres in the country. This classical building was opened in 1863. In 1923, it was named after the famous Russian writer Alexander Ostrovsky. You can also see his monument opposite the building.
Novaya railway station is located 3.5 km from the city centre. Kostroma bus station is just 1 km from the railway station. From here, you can get to Vladimir, Yaroslavl and other Russian cities. If you prefer to go by air, there are 2 flights a week from Moscow to Kostroma. You can also go by bus (7 buses a day), but it will take you 7 hours to get there. If you travel from St Petersburg, the train is the easiest option.
Getting around Kostroma is easy – you can use trolleybuses, buses and taxis.