The Principality of Kiev began to disintegrate in the second half of the 11th century. The Grand Duchy of Vladimir was one of the principalities that arose during this period of fragmentation. Several UNESCO world heritages sites were built in the region starting in the 12th century as Vladimir grew in power. Later, it suffered defeat when the Mongols invaded Russia.
The Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir was built in 1158-1160. This 6-pillared 5-domed cathedral was expanded in 1185-1189. The exterior walls of the church are covered with elaborate carvings. The interior was painted in the 12th century and then repainted by the great Andrei Rublev in 1408. Its icon, Theotokos of Vladimir, was painted in Constantinople. It can now be found in the Tretyakov Gallery, along with works by Rublev,
The Cathedral of Saint Demetrius was completed in 1191. It is one-domed and four-pillared and originally was surrounded by galleries with towers that connected it to the prince's palace. The church is famous for its white-stone carvings - its walls are decorated with ca. 600 reliefs, depicting saints, mythical and real animals. Most of the reliefs are preserved in their original form, though some were replaced during the restoration of the 19th century. Another interesting structure is the Golden Gate of Vladimir. Constructed between 1158 and 1164, it follows the model of Kiev, which had its own Golden Gate. This, though, followed the lead of Constantinople’s Golden Gate.
Suzdal was another important city in the Grand Duchy of Vladimir, with several important churches and other structures. The most important of these is the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos, built in 1102. Located 13 km north-east of Vladimir, the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River was built in the 12th century as well.