Pilgrimage to Greece. May 16-28, 2016

Join us for this two week pilgrimage to the most revered holy places and famous archaeological sites of mainland Greece. You’ll walk in the footsteps of the Apostles, worship in the Byzantine shrines, and hear the tales of Ancient Greece.

The Millennia of Russian Art and Architecture

July 6 – 20, 2013

An engaging journey through Russian cities and provinces against the background of the amazing examples of the Russian art and architecture


The Millennia of Russian Art and Architecture

July 6 – 20, 2013

An engaging journey through Russian cities and provinces against the background of the amazing examples of the Russian art and architecture


Day 1 Saturday, July 6, 2013.

Departure from the US


Day 2 Sunday, July 7, 2013.

Meals: Dinner

Arrival to Moscow. Optional tour of Moscow. Overnight in Moscow


Day 3. Monday, July 8, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

In the morning we will explore the Moscow Kremlin, the ultimate symbol of Russia.  Among many other special attractions here we will visit the Uspensky (Dormition) Cathedral, the site of the installation of the Russian Patriarchs and coronation of the Tsars. It is also very important as a museum since it houses a very fine collection of the earliest Russian icons. The Patriarch's Palace contains some unique Artifacts, and the Museum "Oryzheynaya Palata” (the Armory yard) has the "Pearls" of Russia's treasures. After a short break for lunch we will visit the Red Square with its famous Cathedral of the Protection of the Theotokos, more famously known as St. Basil’s, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, rebuilt just 15 years ago and the Chapel of our Lady of Iveron. In the afternoon we will also visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. This Cathedral is marked in all tour books as a “must see” attraction. And it is indeed so. But few people know that along with its mammoth glory it contains some of the nicest modern icons in its lower church and fascinating collection of the Medieval Byzantine and Russian Icons in one of its galleries. Overnight in Moscow.


Day 4 Tuesday July 9, 2013. Moscow.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Our plan today is to visit the Andronikov Monastery, commonly known as the Museum of the Ancient Russian Art of Andrey Rublev. Former monastery is a home to the second largest (and probably second best) collection of Russian Medieval Art. Tsvetaev's dream was realized in May 1912, when the museum opened its doors to the public. In the afternoon we will visit Pushkin Museum of fine Arts. Built in 1912, it was originally   after the Russian Tzar Alexander III, but in the Soviet Era it was renamed after the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Museum’s collections are excellent, and of particular interest is a collection of the Western Art, that includes works by famous Impressionists and Post-Impressionists  artists. Overnight in Moscow.


Day 5 Wednesday July 10, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Today we’ll tour the best icon collection in the world that is housed in the Tretyakov gallery. We plan to spend several hours here, with a break for lunch at the museum’s cafeteria. In the afternoon we will visit the Novodevichiy Convent, with its magnificent iconostasis and frescoes that are preserved undisturbed from the 17th century. After visit to the Monastery we will continue to the Arbat Street, a pedestrian zone with art galleries, restaurants, and shops, and one of the prime places for souvenir shopping. Overnight in Moscow.


Day 6 Thursday July 11, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

The first stop today is at the famous Holy Trinity Lavra (Monastery). The monastic settlement here was established by St. Sergius in the 14th century and became the single most important spiritual center of all of Russia. We will explore the territory of this enormous fortress-monastery, with a number of churches, monuments, historical buildings and a number of little shops. Some ten miles from the Lavra is Abramtsevo, an estate where key figures in the Slavophile movement gathered and artistic colony in the 19th century. Many of the Russian poets, artists and philosophers who were regular visitors to Abramtsevo were united by the idea of bringing back the spirit of medieval Russian art and folk life. Today Abramtsevo is an art center and museum. Overnight in Suzdal.


Day 7 Friday July 12, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

This morning, we will explore very important and interesting medieval Russian city of Suzdal, that is situated some 20 miles North of Vladimir. It is practically impossible to try to describe that miracle little town, doubtlessly the jewel of the Russian Golden Ring and of all Russia. Multiple churches and monasteries always leave something new to explore for an attentive visitor, no matter how many times you have been in Suzdal’. Here we will visit the Suzdal’ Kremlin with its fascinating Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos, built in 1220’s. Then we will explore the architectural ensemble of Spaso-Ephymiev (St. Ephymius) Monastery. The latter is especially famous for its magnificent cathedral adorned with splendid frescoes by Guriy Nikitin. After Lunch we will return to Vladimir. Here, our plans are to visit Dormition Cathedral with frescoes by Andrei Rublev and St. Dimitry Cathedral with its fantastic stone bas-reliefs. After the tour of Vladimir we will visit the complex of the convent in Bogolyubovo, built on the spot of one of the earliest residences of the Russian dukes. At the end of the day, we will walk through the pristine fields to explore the world-renown monument - church of the Protection of the Theotokos on Nerl’ River. For an overnight we will return to Suzdal.


Day 8  Saturday July 13, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

In the morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we will transfer to the town of Pereslavl’- Zalessky, the birth place of the Russian Duke Alexander Nevsky. Here we will visit the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral (dated back to 1152-1157) and Goritsky Monastery (museum now) with its fascinating baroque cathedral and small, but special icon and wooden sculpture collection. After lunch in Pereslavl, we will see yet another “jewel” of the Golden Ring, the “fairy tale” city of Rostov the Great. Being small, it nevertheless fully lives up to its name “the Great” due to its stunning monuments – Kremlin, monasteries, churches and museums filled with ancient artistic treasures. Overnight in Yaroslavl.


Day 9  Sunday July 14, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Today we will explore the city of Yaroslavl’ – the greatest icon center of medieval Russia. Its artistic treasures easily can compete with those of Moscow and Novgorod. Our exploration of the Yaroslavan treasures we will start with a visit to the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, with its 16th century cathedral, and important icon collection, with some of the most ancient and most splendid pieces of Yaroslavan’ art. We also will visit some of the most famous churches of the city, among them Church St. Elias, perhaps the most famous among numerous Yaroslavan Monuments and ecclesiastical complex of St. John in Tolochkovo, the largest and incredibly beautiful monument of late Medieval Russia. In the evening we will embark on the train for an overnight travel to St. Petersburg.


Day 10  Monday July 15, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Upon our arrival to St. Petersburg, and breakfast we will transfer to Novgorod. Novgorod is a quiet, clean, typical provincial city of Russia’s North-West. But its thousand year history is it truly unique. We will start our exploration of the city by visit St. George Monastery - arguably the oldest Russian Monastery with the Cathedral of St. George dating back to the 11th century. Then we will continue on to Vitoslavitsi, the museum of Wooden Architecture that has the finest collection of the wooden architecture of the Russian North. There are a lot of wooden churches, houses, barns and wells. These wooden monuments have been brought from various regions of Russia for preservation purposes as well as a display of a variety of wooden architectural styles. Overnight in Novgorod.


Day 11   Tuesday July 16, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

After breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for a visit to the main attraction of Novgorod, the Medieval Kremlin. The buildings of the Novgorod Kremlin date back to the 11th -16th centuries. The most special of them all is the Cathedral of St. Sophia, built in the 11th century, and which has survived largely intact through its thousand year history. In addition to the Cathedral, we will visit several historic and art exhibits in the museums of Kremlin. After Lunch we will visit the Market square, the central point of the Medieval city’s commerce and interaction. A number of churches in close proximity to each other serve as a tribute to the piety of Novgorod’s tradesmen. From the Market place, also known as Yaroslav’s court, we will walk down Il’ina street for a visit to Znamensky cathedral. This church was built in dedication to the famous miracle working icon, our Lady of the Sign (Znamenye), the paladin of Novgorod. The nearby Transfiguration church (13th century) still contains some of the original frescoes painted by renown Medieval iconographer Theophanes the Greek. Overnight in Novgorod.


Day 12 Wednesday July 17, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

After breakfast we will transfer to the Historical State Park "Peterhoff" with its world famous Golden Palace that is surrounded by a Park with arcades of golden fountains. We will finish our visit to Peterhoff with a stop at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, an Orthodox Architectural Masterpiece build in Neo-Russian style. This church is also famous for an interesting ceramic iconostasis and rich decoration of the interior. In the afternoon we will visit State Historical Park "Tzarskoe Selo" (Tsar's village), one of the summer residences of the Romanov dynasty with the splendid Catherine's Summer Palace. Built in the second half of the 18th century, it represents the glory of Russia's "Golden Age". The interiors of the palace are fully restored after they were savagely destroyed in WWII. The amber room that was recently restored once again conquers the imagination of visitors. Overnight in St. Petersburg.


Day 13 Thursday July 18, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Our first visit today will be the Alexander-Nevsky Lavra, a beautiful monastery that at one point was one of the biggest and most important in all of Imperial Russia. We will tour the grounds of the Monastery, including the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity that houses the remains of St. Alexander Nevsky, a famous medieval political and military leader. We also will visit the “Necropolis of Artists” on the grounds of the cemetery, where many famous Russian artists, writers and actors are buried. After our visit to the monastery, we will cross the bridge over the Neva and will visit the “strelka” – arrow point – of Vasilievsky Island, a good vantage point for views of the city and a favorite place for photo shoots for newlyweds and tourists, we will visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, the fortified birthplace of the city, which also served as a prison for political dissidents and still serves as the final resting place of the Romanov tsars and their families.  Our next stop is the State Russian Museum, which houses the most comprehensive collection of Russian Art from its Byzantine origins up to the present day. Next we will visit the Church of the "Savior of the Spilt Blood," or Holy Resurrection Cathedral, built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was mortally wounded by a bomb thrown by terrorists in 1881. The cathedral is decorated on the outside with tablets on which Tsar Alexander’s laws and orders are inscribed, along with the dates of the most important events that took place during his reign. The inside of the Cathedral is completely covered with mosaics, totaling over 21 thousand square feet of mosaic tiles. Overnight in St. Petersburg.


Day 14  Friday July 19, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

The first stop will be Cathedral of the Icon of our Lady of Kazan, or Kazan Cathedral. It is sometimes referred to as a smaller Russian version of St. Peter’s in the Vatican. We will continue on to the State Hermitage Museum, once the Winter Palace of the Russian Tsars, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of fine arts. Countless artifacts on exhibit cover the evolution of art from Neolithic times to the beginning of the 20th century. The museum displays Russian icons, dress coats belonging to Peter the Great, some of Catherine the Great’s  dresses, and collections of French art, including the impressionists and works by Picasso and Matisse – among many other things. After lunch, we’ll stop at the splendidly decorated Cathedral of St. Isaac, one of the world’s largest domed Cathedrals. Never a parish church, it was built as a dedication to the Heavenly Patron of Peter the Great, St. Isaac of Dalmatia. The cathedral is Western in style, but adorned with lavish Eastern enthusiasm. The panoramic view of St. Petersburg from its observation deck around the dome is magnificent. Overnight in St. Petersburg.


Day 15.  Saturday July 20, 2013.

Meals: Breakfast




Important: the itinerary may be adjusted to satisfy the interests of the group to the best extent possible; i.e. services, rest, additional time spent in the places where the most important collections of ecclesiastical art are housed. Accessibility of some of the monuments is also subject to weather conditions and restoration works as ancient frescoes are very fragile and need special climate control regime.




Price does include:

Accommodations in "****" hotels in Moscow, cities of the “Golden Ring”, Novgorod, St. Petersburg

Most of the meals: two or three meals daily, as noted in the itinerary

Private bus transportation whenever required

An overnight sleeper train trip from Yaroslavl to St. Petersburg.

All admissions to the scheduled museums*

Professional tour guides at all of the tour places

English speaking guide/escort during the entire tour

* Some museum churches containing fragile ancient frescoes may be closed if the weather will be too damp. We’ll try to do our absolute best to visit those places anyway, but we hope for your understanding if such visits won’t be possible.

Price does not include:

Personal health/accident insurance

Airfare tickets*

Transportation to and from the airport in Russia if traveling separately from the group

Fee for Russian visa**

Private transfers, additional (optional) tours and tickets to unscheduled show/concerts or museums.

Some newly introduced fees that may occur in certain places (monasteries or churches)

Bed sheets on the train if not included in the ticket price


* We can offer a compatible group airfare rate out of New York

** All the necessary paperwork and instructions for Visa Process will be provided in due time. We also may be able to assist you with the Visa application process. For details, please contact Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky


Financial arrangements:

The current cost of the trip is for:

30 pax – USD 3400

25 pax – USD 3450

20 pax – USD 3500

per person, based in double occupancy. Single accommodations: $1100 and subject to availability. The price may change due to the constantly changing prices and taxes and fluctuating exchange rate of ruble vs. the US dollar and the euro. [Current calculations have been made based on the exchange rate of 30 rubles to 1US dollar]. Our hope is that the price of the tour will remain essentially the same. In any case you'll be informed right away of any possible financial changes or adjustments.

All payments should be made by check to: "Palomnik, LLC." Any returned checks are subject to $20 fee.

A $500.00 deposit is required when you sign up for the trip. The deposit is non-refundable, unless pilgrimage is cancelled by the organizers due to lack of participation or other valid and unforeseen circumstances. The entire amount is due 60 days prior to departure, May 6, 2013. If signing up after the deadline, the entire amount due at the time of signing up. Failure to pay in full by May 6, 2013 without written notice of explanation may lead to the cancellation of your participation, with no refund of any previously committed funds. If you decided to join the pilgrimage after the deadline, please contact tour coordinator regarding the availability.

All payments should be made by check to the "Palomnik, LLC" and forwarded to attention of Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky at 53 Baxter Street, Binghamton, NY 13905. Any returned checks are subject to $20 fee.


In the event that you need to cancel after you have signed up, the charges in addition to the full amount of the deposit are*:

25% of the tour cost, 60 to 30 days prior to the departure

50% of the tour cost, 30 to 15 days prior to the departure

100% of the tour cost 14 or fewer days prior to the departure

All cancellations must be in writing and sent directly to agent/coordinator - Fr. llya Gotlinsky and must be received for reimbursement by the dates shown in the cancellation schedule.

If your visa is denied for any reason, the above cancellation fees still apply.


Passport and Visa:

A valid passport and Russian visa are necessary for travel to Russia. The passport must be issued at least three months prior to the departure and must be valid until your return.

The visa may be obtained through the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C., your regional Russian Consulate General or at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in your country. You may apply for visa personally or via mail. You must have an invitation from an agency in Russian to obtain Russian entry visa. To receive such invitation you must provide us with your full name, date and place of birth, number of your passport and your permanent address. Upon receiving the invitation all the necessary forms for the visa (invitation, visa application, instructions on how to file for the Russian visa and the list of the Russian official offices where you can obtain visa) will be mailed to you directly. We are willing to help you to apply for the Russian visa. If you apply for the Russian visa yourself, please make sure that the name and dates on your visa are accurate. All possible discrepancies must be corrected while still at home in the US, prior to the departure.


Rules on the road:

It is strongly suggested that you

Obtain insurance covering medical needs and coverage of personal property

Be aware that financial coverage for all emergency medical and other emergency needs will be your sole responsibility.  We will provide all possible logistical and personal assistance, but the financial aspect is your responsibility.

Act in a manner consistent with the surrounding environment

Make arrangements to have access to sufficient funds to cover personal needs and unexpected events

Be aware that the places that we will be visiting may not have the same amenities that you are accustomed to. Medical facilities in most areas are limited. Because of the difference in language and customs, it is expected that the traveler will follow the directions of the Tour Director at all times.


The Director reserves the right to restrict a person’s participation in the group’s activities, including exclusion from the group, when, in the opinion of the Director, such action is appropriate.


Please note:  The Director of the trip, Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky, does not hold any legal responsibilities concerning any of the arrangements, but acts only as an agent/coordinator.



LUGGAGE — Take only as many pieces of luggage as you can manage yourself. There will be several times on the trip when luggage carts may not be available.  Luggage pieces longer than 24" may create an inconvenience on trains because train compartments have limited storage space.

MEDICATION — Bring any prescription medications you need, as well as over the counter treatments for common ailments such as colds, upset stomach, and the like.  While most medicines are available in the larger cities in Russia, the quality or dosage may not be the same as in the US.  In Russia, as in the US, you need a doctor's prescription for antibiotics.

BE SURE TO BRING - comfortable shoes (do not start the trip with new shoes); electric outlet adapters, extra batteries, and film/memory cards for your camera, phone, and other gadgets; an alarm clock; Kleenex and toilet paper if you prefer a particular brand.  Some travelers also recommend bringing hand sanitizer or wipes, a wash cloth (not typically provided in hotels), a small fan, and bug repellant.

DRESS -- We are going to visit a lot of churches and monasteries.  Women should wear head-coverings and skirts when visiting churches and monasteries. Men should wear regular shirts and trousers. Visitors in open shouldered outfits or shorts are usually not allowed in monasteries or churches.  The weather in Russia in July will be much like weather in Vermont in the US, warm to hot during the day, with occasional cool rainy days, and cooler at night – and unpredictable day by day.

RUSSIAN FOOD – is generally good.  Sugar substitutes and powdered creamer are not provided, so bring your own if you use them.

CHURCH SERVICES - Church services in Russia are absolutely magnificent. There are two services scheduled during the trip. They are open to all who want to attend, but are not mandatory. Those Orthodox travelers who would like to receive Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy must come for confession on that day, prior to receiving the Holy Communion.

WATER – It is advisable to drink bottled water, which is not expensive and is widely available.

SECURITY - Don't keep all of your cash in one place, and carry important documents (like your passport and visa) with you in a hidden pocket or secure bag. Expensive jewelry and electronic devices are best left at home.

CURRENCY – There are more and more places in Russia that accept credit cards (mostly Visa or MasterCard, no Discover or American Express). The easiest way to obtain cash is to use the ATM machine. For ATMs use your debit card because you won’t be charged any interest on cash withdrawals. You get the best exchange rate of the day if you use your debit card for cash withdrawals and your credit card for purchases. It is a good idea to let your bank or credit company know that you will be traveling overseas, since without such a notice some companies may freeze your account to prevent fraud. If you feel more comfortable with cash, there are numerous currency exchanges in hotels, banks, and stores, even in the smaller towns.  If you will be exchanging cash for rubles, try to obtain clean, recently printed U.S. bills. Russian banks are VERY particular about the dollars they will accept and don't want dirty, torn or defaced bills. If you are exchanging cash money try to use larger bills, since it always take a while for the bank clerk to check the bills.



Last Updated (Tuesday, 11 December 2012 23:00)