Rostov (Russian: Ростов; IPA: [rɐˈstof]; Old Norse: Rostofa) is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of Lake Nero, 202 kilometers (126 mi) northeast of Moscow. Population: 31,792 (2010 Census); 34,141 (2002 Census); 35,707 (1989 Census).
While the official name of the town is Rostov, it is also known to Russians as Rostov Veliky, i. e. Rostov the Great. This name is used to distinguish it from Rostov-on-Don, which is now a much larger city. Rostov Yaroslavsky is the official name of its railway station (due to its position in Yaroslavl Oblast).
Rostov was preceded by Sarskoye Gorodishche, which some scholars interpret as the capital of the Merya tribe, while others believe it was an important Viking trade enclave and fortress guarding the Volga trade route. First mentioned in the year 862 as an already important settlement, by the 13th century Rostov became the capital city of one of the most prominent Russian principalities. It was incorporated into Muscovy in 1474.
Even after it lost its independence, Rostov was still an ecclesiastic center of utmost importance (from 988 it was the see of one of the first Russian bishoprics). In the 14th Century, the bishops of Rostov became archbishops, and late in the 16th century, metropolitans. One of those metropolitans, Iona (Jonah) Sysoyevich (ca. 1607-1690), commissioned the town’s main landmark: the kremlin that many regard as the finest outside of Moscow.
Ravaged by the Mongols in the 13th and 14th centuries (last sack by Edigu in 1408) and the Poles in 1608, Rostov became a medium-sized town. The metropolitan see was transferred to Yaroslavl late in the 18th century.