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Vladimir is over 1000 years old and was founded in 1108 by Vladimir Monomakh. There is an alternative version that ascribes the foundation of the city to Vladimir the Red Sun in 990. Yet the exact year does not seem to be very important for the average traveler, since the oldest existing monuments date back only to the middle of 12th century. At that period, the city was rapidly developing due to the activity of Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky who established the capital of North-Eastern Russia in Vladimir. The city's period of greatest importance was probably in the late 12th and early 13th century, up to the Mongol invasion. For the better part of two centuries (from 1157 to the mid 1300s) it was the capital of ancient Rus. Several of Russia's greatest architectural monuments were built in Vladimir during that time, including Assumption Cathedral and the Golden Gates, both of which are World Heritage Sites. Two of the most famous sites in Vladimir are the Uspensky and Dmitrovsky Cathedrals. The latter was established in the 12th century and is now the oldest functioning church in Russia. Both the Uspenskiy and the Dmitrovsky Cathedrals are located on a hill above the city of Vladimir. The location choice was made to remind the people that God is above them, directing and helping them from heaven.

The Golden Gate (Zolotie Vorota) of Vladimir is the main attraction in the city and its unofficial symbol. The gate was originally built in 1158-64 as a rampart to the city surrounded by walls with five stone gates. The Golden Gate is the only remaining part of the complex and the unique monument of ancient fortifications in Russia. It was the final defense against intruders until the Mongols burned it down with the rest of Vladimir. The ramparts were removed in 19th century, and the gate was reinforced by four circular bastions that strongly changed the appearance of the gate, so it may be advisable to see the picture of the original building. The city is also home to several award winning museums, art galleries and theaters; a number of world-class performing groups, artists, and several first rate institutions of higher learning. Plus Vladimir is one of the most visited destinations within the popular Golden Ring circuit, as it preserves several of the finest monuments of white-stone medieval architecture in Russia, along with a number of later buildings from the 16th–20th centuries. Moreover the city is now considered one of the major members of the Golden Ring of communities which have played a significant role in Russian history.

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