The beautiful city of Uglich, set on the banks of the River Volga, was never especially large or powerful, but has nevertheless played a vital role in the history of Russia. As part of the famous 'Golden Ring' of cities to the northeast of Moscow, it was part of the focus of the medieval kingdom of Rus.
Perhaps the best-known moment in Uglich's history came in 1591, when the ten-year-old Prince Dimitry - son of Ivan the Terrible and heir to the throne - was apparently murdered in the palace courtyard. As Dimitry was the sole heir to the throne, Uglich became the centre of a succession crisis; the following two decades saw political turmoil and civil war known as the 'Times of Trouble'.
Yet the city recovered relatively quickly. Dimitry was canonised and Uglich was turned into a place of pilgrimage. In 1690, almost exactly a century later, the pilgrimage church of St Demetrios on the Blood was opened on the site of his murder. With its distinctive red walls and blue domes, the church has been a popular pilgrimage site ever since it opened, and still attracts many visitors. The palace where Dimitry lived is now a museum dedicated to his memory.
Throughout the 18th century Uglich continued to build glorious religious architecture, and today the historic centre is a joy to explore. Amongst its white washed walls and narrow streets are some of Russia's finest religious buildings.