Unlike the other Kremlins of Russia, Rostov Kremlin has never been a ducal or tsar’s residence. It was built as the residence of bishop. For that time it was very ambitiously, but bishop Iona was the closest associate of Patriarch Nikon who had a great influence at the court of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.
Since 12 century Rostov was one of the important centers of Vladimir principality. The court of metropolitan was also there. But the heyday of the city fell on the period of 1650-1690, when Iona Sysoyevich was the metropolitan of Rostov and Yaroslavl. It was in his time that the magnificent ensemble of the Rostov Kremlin appeared.
The Rostov Kremlin consists of three parts. The Pontifical Court is in the center of the Rostov Kremlin. All the main buildings and churches are concentrated there: the Tsar’s and Metropolitan’s Chambers, the Church of Ascension, the Church of John the Evangelist, the Church of Savior on the Seni, and the Church of Odigitria. To the south from the Pontifical Court, on the side of Lake Nero, is the Metropolitan’s Garden, and to the north from it is the Sobornaya (Cathedral) Square. On the square is the Assumption cathedral, which was built a hundred years before the Rostov Kremlin.
The walls and towers of the Kremlin served rather a decorative than a defensive purpose, as they had no loopholes as well as some other necessary fortifications of each fortress.
At the Rostov Kremlin you may visit several exhibitions and expositions. After a tour of the Kremlin walls and churches, you should go on an excursion to the Samuel’s Quarters and the adjoining White Chamber. You should also visit an exhibition in the Church of Odigitria.