Kostroma (Russian: Кострома; IPA: [kəstrɐˈma]) is a historic city and the administrative center of Kostroma Oblast, Russia. A part of the Golden Ring of Russian towns, it is located at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers. Population: 268,742 (2010 Census); 278,750 (2002 Census); 278,414 (1989 Census).
The city was first recorded in the chronicles for the year 1213, but historians believe it could have been founded by Yury Dolgoruky more than half a century earlier. Like other towns of the Eastern Rus, Kostroma was sacked by the Mongols in 1238. It then constituted a small principality, under leadership of Prince Vasily the Drunkard, a younger brother of the famous Alexander Nevsky. Upon inheriting the grand ducal title in 1271, Vasily didn’t leave the town for Vladimir, and his descendants ruled Kostroma for another half a century, until the town was bought by Ivan I of Moscow.
As one of the northernmost towns of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, Kostroma served for grand dukes as a place of retreat when enemies besieged Moscow in 1382, 1408, and 1433. In 1375, the town was looted by Novgorod pirates (ushkuiniks). The spectacular growth of the city in the 16th century may be attributed to the establishment of trade connections with English and Dutch merchants (Muscovy Company) through the northern port of Archangel. Boris Godunov had the Ipatiev and Epiphany monasteries rebuilt in stone. The construction works were finished just in time for the city to witness some of the most dramatic events of the Time of Troubles.
Kostroma was twice ravaged by the Poles; it took a six-month siege to expel them from the Ipatiev monastery. The heroic peasant Ivan Susanin became a symbol of the city’s resistance to foreign invaders; several monuments to him may be seen in Kostroma. The future Tsar, Mikhail Romanov, also lived at the monastery. It was here that an embassy from Moscow offered him the Russian crown in 1612.
It is understandable why the Romanov Tsars regarded Kostroma as their special protectorate. The Ipatievsky monastery was visited by many of them, including Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar. The monastery had been founded in the early 14th century by a Tatar prince, ancestor of the Godunov family. The Romanovs had the magnificent Trinity Cathedral rebuilt in 1652; its frescoes and iconostasis are a thing of beauty. A wooden house of Mikhail Romanov is still preserved in the monastery. There are also several old wooden structures transported to the monastery walls from distant districts of the Kostroma Oblast.
In 1773, Kostroma was devastated by a great fire. Afterwards the city was rebuilt with streets radiating from a single focal point near the river. They[who?] say that Catherine the Great dropped her fan on the city map, and told the architects to follow her design. One of the best preserved examples of the 18th century town planning, Kostroma retains some elegant structures in a «provincial neoclassical» style. These include a governor’s palace, a fire tower, a rotunda on the Volga embankment, and an arcaded central market with a merchant church in the center.