Yury Dolgoruky, who founded Moscow in 1147, built the first fort and cathedral at Pereslavl Zalessky five years later. The beautiful Saviour-Transfiguration Cathedral still holds pride of place inside the earthen ramparts and is one of Russia’s oldest buildings. The medieval prince, Alexander Nevsky, who was born in Pereslavl, is commemorated in bronze nearby.
Pereslavl-Zalessky has had an extraordinary number of monasteries – as many as 12 were located in the immediate area during the mid-18th century. In part this was a reflection of the town’s role as a center of early missionary activity at a time when much of the Rostov territory had only nominally accepted Christianity. The number of monasteries was also due to the town’s position on a major pilgrimage route used not only by humble believers but also by the grand princes of Muscovy. Five monasteries still have a major presence in Pereslavl-Zalessky.