Vladimir, Russia, 100 mi/170 km northeast of Moscow, once rivaled the country's capital for the predominance of central Russia, and was once the capital of northwestern Russia. That was before the Mongols invaded in 1238 and destroyed most of the city, killing most of its inhabitants.

What remains of special interest to visitors today are three 12th-century structures that claim to be the first examples of "white-stone" Russian architecture: St. Dimitryi Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Assumption with its beautiful frescoes, and Vladimir's Golden Gate (part of the city's defenses), which now has a museum with a diorama depicting the city at the time of the Mongol invasion.

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