Ports of Call
Moscow is an “eternal third Rome”,the capital of Russia.In 1997 Moscow celebrated its 850 anniversary and made a feast in honor of two Yuries builders of Moscow:Yury Dolgoruky,who founded Moscow in 1147 and Yury Luzhkov,the present mayor,who in many respects created the modern appearance of Russian capital.Nowadays the capital’s square is 1035 sq. km,that is nearly three times more than the square of Paris.Without doubt outskirts of the city will not impress you by alternation of vacant sites and urban residential regions built earlier during Soviet period.Please be patient because acquaintance with centre of the city and tours along old streets will raise your mood.At first sight you may not call Moscow a beautiful city from architectural point of view.But Moscow has its hidden beauty which will satisfy your curiosity and will ensure understanding of the essence of an old Russian city.Kremlin-the first “residential quarter” of Moscow,rises along the left bank of the Moskva-River.This majestic triangle concentrating political power for a long time was a “forbidden city” first of Russia tsars and afterwards-of the Soviet state.Real fortified town with its own squares, churches and cathedrals,the Kremlin is opened for visitors, and without doubt is one of the most visited places despite the fact that it is still the residence of Russian Government.A centre of political power, museum,monument,city-museum or simply a city?That is a question which is not easy to answer. Undoubtedly the Kremlin combines all those definitions.Kremlin-the symbol of Russian state,of all Russian people.Red Square with unforgettable ensemble of architectural monuments of various epochs,among which the most known is St.Basil’s cathedral (cathedral of the Intercession on the ditch).This cathedral which seems to appear from The Arabian Nights tales is a symbol of Moscow and the most prominent monument of Russian architecture.According to the legend the Russian architect Postnic was blinded by the order of Ivan the Terrible to prevent him of constructing similar monument .Moscow museums.World known are Museum of imitative arts named after Pushkin,Tretyakov gallery ,Kolomenskoye and many other places-all of them represent historical and cultural heritage of the Russian capital.What is Moscow Metro? Without doubt the only answer will be:the most comfortable means of transport of Moscow.This will be the answer of any Muscovite.Constructed in the Stalin era and nicknamed underground palace,the Metro is rather a museum than means of transportation.And that is the most visited museum in the world,because more than 7 millions of Muscovites choose metro for traveling,without paying any attention to stations decorations.The first project of Moscow Metro was proposed by engineer Balinsky in 1902.But Moscow Parliament rejected this project considering it very expensive.One more argument against it was that the capital of Russian Empire was Saint Petersburg.In 1918 Soviet government moved to Moscow.Moscow once again received the status of capital,and this fact preconditioned steadfast growth of the city population.However only in 1922,after the end of Civil war,the construction of Moscow Metro was seriously considered for the first time.The final resolution was passed by Soviet government in 1931.In autumn of the same year the construction of the first station was started.On the 15th of May,1935 the first lines of Moscow Metro were put into service.The length of the first lines was 11.6 km, they had 13 stations. Since then the construction of subway never stopped,even during the war.Stations in the centre of Moscow are of deep bedding(up to 80 m).Muscovites used them as bomb shelters in the course of hostile bombardment during World War II.Today the Metro connects city’s centre with suburbs, industrial regions,new residential areas.The total length of Metro lines is about 300 km.The number of stations reached 188.Additional 20 stations are under construction.Moscow Metro consists of 11 lines,one of which-circular runs nearly under the Sadovoye ring,10 radial lines and 7 railway terminals,that is especially comfortable for arrivals.All the Metro stations are faced with marble. Architects chose this material not for nothing. Firstly it is eternal, secondly it is impervious to water, and thirdly it is simply beautiful.Marble for facing of stations was delivered from all the regions of the former USSR.All the Metro stations are very well lighted.You will not find similar lamps because they are works of art by themselves.Famous sculptors,artists and architects considered it an honour to participate in decoration of the Metro stations.In the process of decoration they used paintings,mosaic, sculptures. Mosaic panels at the stations constructed during the period of 1930-50-s are real works of art.
Uglich is a town in the Yaroslavl province,a river port and a railway station.It produces clocks,cheese ,watches and other milk products.Heavy machinery is repaired here.There is a hydroelectric station. The population numbers 39,000.The town has a museum of art and history.The name of Uglich is a derivative of “ugol” (a corner).The Volga makes a sharp bend at this place,forming a corner,or “ugol”, hence the name.Founded as early as 937,it was first mentioned in chronicles only in 1148.A local legend says that the town existed in the days of Holy Princess Olga,Equal-to-the Apostoles.It served as the capital of the Uglich principality from 1218 till 1238 when it was seized and devastated by the Mongols who killed most of its population.The rest were taken prisoners or fled to the dense forest surrounding the town.In the 14th century Moscow began uniting Russian lands and Uglich was annexed to the Moscow principality.In 1371 it was burnt to ashes by the prince of Tver who struggled with Moscow for supremacy.In the 15th century the town prospered and even coined its own money. After Ivan the Terrible’s death,his son Prince (Tsarevich) Dimitry,the last in the Rurik dynasty,was sent to Uglich with his mother and was killed here at the age of eight in 1591 in uncertain circumstances.His death was not only a tragedy for his family,it was followed by many troubles in Russia,such as internecine conflicts and a Polish invasion.Three false pretenders to the Moscovite throne (one after another) claimed to be Prince Dimitry.They are known as False Dimitrys.In 1606 the prince was canonized and his relics were tranferred to the Archangel Cathedral in Moscow.In 1611 Polish invadors destroyed the town and massacred its population.After the disaster the town was restored slowly.The process was hindered by the decree of Peter I forbidding stone constructions anywhere but in St.Petersburg.The emperor also ordered removing the bells from the churches of Uglich,melting them to make cannons because Russia was at war with Sweden. During Catherine II’s reign the town grew rapidly and flourished.In the 19th century its citizens led tranquil,yet cultured provincial life.A museum,a library and a theater were opened here.The 1917 revolution changed the course of the town’s history.It was serously damaged by construction of the hydro-electic stations in the 1930s.The Intercession Monastery,a major architectural sight in the south western part,and other churches and buildings dating from the 15th,16th and 17th centuries were blown up and then flooded .The huge structure of the hydroelectric station stands on the former monastery site today.A team of restorers has been working in the town’s historical center since 1952.As a result, many old buildings have been saved from destruction.According to the plan for Uglich’s development and construction, recently approved by the local authorities, its historical center will be preserved intact.
The city was founded XI century by prince Yaroslav the Wise on confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosli.Main sightseeing is well known for its beauty temples of XVII century,saved since “golden century” of Yaroslavl in the period when skilful architects and icon-painters were working here. Amazing are the frescoes of Il’ya the Prophet church situated on the main square,it is the original museum of Russian ancient paintings.Nikola Nadein church with carving gilded Ikonostasis executed in baroque style and unique fifteen-dome Ioan Predtechi church are among ceremonial monuments of the Yaroslavl architectural school.The rich Spaskiy monastery stayed for a long time as a main cultural and spiritual centre of Yaroslavl.The rarest monuments of the XVI-XVII centuries are kept in its limits.Wooden walls and towers were elevated in the XVI century.The central part of the Spaskiy monastery ensemble is the ancient building of Yaroslavl.It is Spaso Preobrajenskiy monastery (1503-1516) kept till our days. Exactly here a manuscript “word about Igorev group” was found.At the present time there is a historic-architectural reserve museum in Spasskiy monastery,created in the result of historic-natural (1864) and historic (1895) museums confluence.Some departments of the museum keep nearly 250 thousands exhibits:historic-natural, ancient Russian and decorative applied arts, other departments have linens, objects of rules of church singing, precious metals (Russian jewelers works of the XIV-XX centuries),ancient Russian literature.An International Festival of choral and bell music is held on the museum territory.In the centre of the town in the ancient detached house there is a museum house of L.V.Sobinova.Fifteen kilometers far from Yaroslavl there is Nekrasov’ Literature-memorial reserve museum “Karabiha”.Destinies of A.Savrasov,A.Opekushin are connected with Yaroslavl.The first Russian theatre was founded here by Fedor Volkov.Arts and historic museums of the town have rich collections of paintings and applied arts. Yaroslavl painters,sculptors and jewelers regularly present their works in Yaroslavl Exhibition halls.
Welcome to the Northwest of Russia,the village of Goritsy,home to the Resurrection Convent,standing at the shoreline.From Goritsy a bus will drive you to the town of Kirillov,8 kilometers away,to tour one of the major Orthodox strongholds of Old Russia,the Monastery of St.Cyril on the White Lake.Founded in the 14th century,the monastery has preserved its remarkable architecture and fascinates the visitors by its majestic churches enclosed within austere fortress walls.The monastery is also famous for its museum of icons some of them are the oldest in Russia.
The island of Kizhi is located at the northern end of the Onega Lake,the second largest lake in Europe .This region is called Zaonezhye (“behind the Lake Onega”).The island is 7 km long,1,5 wide,longwise and elongeted.The central part is a little elevated.The word “Kizhi” means “game” in Karelian. Probably it was a site of pagan rites for Ugrian and Finnish tribes.The island first gained significance in the 14th c. as a spot on the water route for trade between the White Sea to the north and the merchant-dominated city of Novgorod on the Volkhov River.In 1951 an open-air museum of different wood structures brought in from nearby villages was founded there. In 1960 it became State Museum of History,Architecture and Ethnography and contains more than 70 chapels,belfries,log-houses,mills, bath-houses,barns,smithies.The major structure is the magnificent Church of the Transfiguration built in 1714,with 22 onion-domed cupolas,some of which rise to a height of 121 feet. The composition represents three octagons of different size placed one on another.The work was performed by the carpenter Nestor.Next to the Church of the Transfiguration stands the Church of the Intercession (Pokrovskaya,built in 1764).Both churches interiors are richly ornamented with religious objects:the former has especially noteworthy iconostases, the latter-locally painted icons. The Church of the Transfiguration is actually closed for restoration.The architectural ensemble is completed with the bell tower situated between the churches.The bell tower is the latest of the three structures of the Kizhi ensemble. It was built in 1862 instead of the old dilapidated bell tower.The Church of Lazar of Murom is located nearby.It is the oldest monument of wooden architecture in Russia- the Church was built in the middle of the 14th century.This church was brought here from the Murom Monastery,situated at the southern shore of Onega Lake,in 1960.Among the many examples of wooden secular architecture are several peasant houses ranging from the simple hut to the quite substantial Oshevnev family`s house-barn that sheltered farm animals, tools and grain as well as the family.A wooden wind mill, large and small granaries, and other farm buildings also represent this category of wooden architecture.
A small village of Mandroga is a romantic vision from the past.The village has been recently created by men of enterprise and artistic taste as tourist attractions.Their cosy log cabins designed in old Russian style attract visitors who can enjoy here the fanciful wood-carving,visit a museum of samovars,buy some souvenirs made by local craftsmen and have a good meal with Russian vodka or tea.The history of the place is not so romantic.There used to be a settlement of Veps (Karelian people ).In the days of the last war it was occupied by the Germans,the population was interned never to return and the place became desolate.In the 1960s sand was obtained here but the workers left the village when the quarries were closed.Today the population is small,yet industrious and enterprising .The head of the community says there are some Veps (descendants of the natives) among them. Mandroga means “pine-trees on the bog” in the Veps language.The local people are not cast down, they are working hard and feel hopeful about the future.Another attraction is the Museum of Vodka. This traditional alcoholic drink is made of grain.Many dishes of Russian cuisine can be washed down with vodka,like pan cakes and caviar.The museum exhibitions show the history of the drink and the process of its productions.There is a tasting bar where the visitors can taste best sorts of Russian vodka.
Svirstroy is the urban type settlement,it is situated on the left bank of the Svir river.The settlement sprang up during the construction of the Nijnesvirskoi GES.Rapids,formed in river-bed in the place of crossing of the valley with hilly ridges were sank by the reservoir,as they formed obstacles for shipping.
This city is called Northern Palmyra,Northern Venice,Northern Aurora…But none of these names can reflect magnificent charm,incomparable elegance and splendid originality of Saint Petersburg.While the biggest capitals of the world such as Rome,London,Paris have been built during centuries,it took only ten years at the beginning of the 18th century to build new capital of Russia at the marsh-ridden banks of Neva.At that particular place which had a beneficial geographic location Peter the First, Russian Tsar,ordered to build a fortress,which was named after Saint apostles Peter and Paul.From the little island where the bastions of the Peter and Paul fortress were located the city made a step to the left and right banks of the Neva,began to grow,slowly becoming a real capital, which by the end of the 18th century rightfully received the name Northern Palmyra.The city covers an area of 600 sq km and extends over 42 islands.These are surrounded by numerous arms and canals of the Neva and are connected by about 300 bridges.Characteristic feature of the city is that St.Petersburg differs from all other Russian cities and does not have analogues in Europe.It is not mere chance, because together with Russian architects the best masters from Europe participated in the construction of Russian capital.All architectural styles existing at that time are reflected in buildings of St.Petersburgn .St. Petersburg is not only the most European city of Russia,but it is the most cosmopolitan.To be sure of that fact it is enough to have a walk along the main artery of the city-Nevsky prospect,where cathedrals and churches of all world religions are located.Less than in 100 years Petersburg lined up with the biggest capitals of the world in the sphere of city-building,culture,science,art and education .All those reforms may be compared only with Renaissance epoch, with the difference that it took shorter time.Uniqueness of St.Petersburg is also in the fact that not only the city was constructed in harmonious and elegant form according to a single plan,but it constitutes a unified ensemble with the surrounding palaces,suburban residential areas, picturesque parks.Petergof of Peter the First, Tsarskoye Selo(Pushkin) of Catherine the Second,Pavlovsk of Paul the First,Oranienbaugm of Peter the Third and other suburban residences of the tsars,great princes and famous statesmen still delight visitors with their architecture of rare beauty,special atmosphere of their parks.The name of the city was changed several times.In 1914 the city was named Petrograd.In 1924 after death of V. I.Lenin it was renamed into Leningrad and only in 1991 the city returned its original name St.Petersburg.The rivalry between Moscow and St.Petersburg started long time ago.The inhabitants of Moscow think that the citizens of St.Petersburg are snobs because the latter barely condescended to acknowledge the existence of the former.Tsar Nicolas I once said “St.Petersburg belongs to Russia but it isn’t Russian”.
Today`s city was established in 1558, when on the island Dolgui(Long) a wooden fortress was built. Later there appeared a stone kremlin with the walls of 1,5 km long,11 m high and 5 m large at the base. Near the kremlin a white-stone city was founded.Under Peter the Great Astrakhan became the centre of the province of Astrakhan.Peter initiated the creation of the navy for the Caspian Sea,and in 1722 the tsar arrived in Astrakhan to head the campaign for capturing the west coast of the Caspian Sea.In the middle of the 17th c.and in the early 18th c.industry and navigation developed in the city. Now Astrakhan is a major industrial and transport centre.12 km to the north of the modern city stretches the hill called “Shareny hillock”.It was the site of the Old Astrakhan known as Khadji Tarkhan.In 1395 the site was assaulted by Timur`s troops and destroyed completely.In the middle of the 15th c. the city was reconstructed and became the capital of Astrakhan khanate.In 1556 the region was easily taken by Ivan`s troops and in 1558 a city was founded on the new site where it stands actually.
Kostroma is as old as Moscow.Located on the left bank of the Volga River,it abounds in magnificent monuments of old architecture.Its picturesque suburbs have long been a source of inspiration for many Russian artists.The outstanding role which Kostroma played at certain periods in Russian history accounts for the art heritage to be found in the city today.At the confluence of the Kostroma and Volga Rivers rise the white stone walls and golden cupolas of the Ipatievsky Monastery.It was founded in the latter half of the XIII century to protect the approaches to the city from the upper reaches of the Volga.In 1958 ,a unique open-air museum of wooden architecture was set up at the walls of the Ipatievsky Monastery.Churches,old houses,barns,water,windmills and small bathhouses were brought from various villages in the Kostroma Region.Among the exhibits, the Church of the Synaxis of the Virgin (1552) from the village of Kholm and the Church of the Transfiguration (1713) command particular attention.Also on display is a large collection of objects of wood-carving whose traditions were passed from father to son.One of the first stone buildings in the Kostroma territory was the Church of the Resurrection-on-the-Debra,erected in 1651.The facades of the commercial and administrative buildings give on to the central square.The complex of the Kostroma shopping arcades is among the largest market centers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to survive up today.The complex took shape in the course of several decades and incorporates over ten buildings of various size located in the main square and its descent to the Volga.
At the confluence of the Oka and the Volga Rivers,Nizhny Novgorod (formerly named Gorky),founded in 1221,is the 4th largest city of Russia, surpassed only by Moscow,St.Petersburg and Ekaterinburg. Although it dates back to the 13th century,the majority of its most interesting sights are from later periods.The foremost among these is the city’s great,brooding Kremlin,built during the 16th century. It was until quite recently a closed city,best known to foreigners as the place of exile of the physicist ,and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize,Andrey Sakharov after he denounced the war in Afghanistan. Moreover,Nizhny Novgorod is a large river port,trade and cultural centre.One of the most ancient chronicles of Russia was written here,in Pechersky monastery,written in 1328-30.Later it was known as Lavrentyevskaya chronicle.
Kazan,the capital of the Tatar Autonomous Republic (Tatarstan) is often called the “Pearl of the Central Volga Region”.Founded in the 13th century by the Mongols,who at that time occupied Russia,it served as the seat of the mighty Golden Horde or “Tatar” Empire. Presently,it is the city of million inhabitants (half Russian,half Tatar) and absolutely charming with a unique blend of the Muslim and Christian cultures.Kazan is the birthplace of the Russian opera singer Fyodor Chaliapin and of the great ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
The history of today’s 1.5-million resident city dates back to the 16th century.Founded in 1586 as a fortress to guard Russian lands against relentless nomadic forays.Samara was but a far-flung peripheral settlement until 1851 when the city became the center of the newly formed Samara gubernia (region).Vibrant development of the ciry began in the second half of the 19th century with the construction of stonework mansions,banks,public buildings and industrial facilities.Most of them still stagger with (he diversity of architectural styles and the elegance of shapes.It was then that Samara received its theaters,museums and the public library.The city,bearing the name of Kuibyshev at that time,owes its dynamic industrialization period to the 40s of the 20th century.Plants and factories,evacuated here from the frontline area of the fighting country,laid the foundation tor the national military-industrial complex.In 1991 the city was given back historical name.Today’s Samara provides a blend of antiquity and modern times.Visitors marvel at its ravishing embankment with parks and sculptures.Samara is home to the once famous brewery and one of today’s most popular chocolate brands.Beautiful Orthodox temples create a wonderful ensembl with a Lutheran church and Roman Catholic basilica.But Samara’s most precious treasure lis its hospitable people.
Saratov was founded in 1590 as a fortress to protect the Volga rout from the raids of the tribes of nomads.Since the 17th century it has become a staging point for water and land routs also as a fish and salt trading center.Saratov is a large river port and a road junction,situated on the right bank of the Volga river.The population of the city is 904 thousand people.
First called Tsaritsyn,then renamed Stalingrad and eventually Volgograd,the city has a unique geographic location on the crossroads of land and waterways which link together Europe and Asia.It was established in the 16th century to defend the strategic point where the Volga and Don rivers meet.Volgograd acquired its sinister notoriety during World War II at the time of the Battle of Stalingrad (winter of 1942) which was the turning point for the Russian resistance to Hitler,and forthe war as a whole.Mamayev Нill,the site of the battle’s fiercest fighting is now a memorial dominated by a 70-m (239-ft) statue of Russia the Motherland wielding a sword.The names of the soldiers who fell in combat are inscribed the walls, while Schumann’s Traumerei plays over and over again.Soldiers stand as guards of honour in front of the eternal flame.You’ll be moved when you visit the memorial and see the diorama depicting the ferocious battle.
Vladimir is a part of the Golden ring of the ancient Russian cities and a significant historical centre.Its three chief monuments among which are, Assumption Cathedral with magnificent Andrei Rublev’s frescos,St.Dmitriy Cathedral erected more than 800 years ago and The Golden Gate that survived the Mongol destruction of Vladimir in 1237 are inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage List.
The history of the ancient town dates back to at least the year 1024.The former capital of Old Russia now it is the pearl of the Golden Ring.This beautiful town features many fine examples of Russian architecture such as the Transfiguration cathedral,museum of wooden architecture and St.Epiphany monastery.The juxtaposition of stunning medieval architecture with its pastoral setting makes Suzdal the source of inspiration for artists and a lovely place to visit at any time of a year.
Founded in 1152 by Prince Yury Dolgoruky as a large fortress on the Volga River,in course of time Gorodets turned into a one of the most prosperous towns located on the Volga River with beautiful churches built and commerce developed.Although the Gorodetz of today is a pretty small town it safeguards its peculiar charm and a very special atmosphere of old days.
A small town of Plyos can’t but inspire so beautiful it is.No wonder it inspired the most outstanding landscape painter Issak Levitan.Dating back to the 15th century every year Plyos hosts hundreds of tourists who come to the town attracted by its charm and tranquility and by a great opportunity to visit Levitan museum where his best paintings are exhibited.A small town of Plyos can’t but inspire so beautiful it is.No wonder it inspired the most outstanding landscape painter Issak Levitan.Dating back to the 15th century every year Plyos hosts hundreds of tourists who come to the town attracted by its charm and tranquility and by a great opportunity to visit Levitan museum where his best paintings are exhibited.
Rostov the Great
While the official name of the town is Rostov,it is better known to Russians as Rostov Veliky,i.e. Rostov the Great.Indeed,the town with long and amazingly rich history played a significant role in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church.Therefore,the town’s kremlin, includes eleven ornate tower bells, numerous palaces,several small belfries,and the dimunitive baroque Church of Our Lady of Smolensk (1693).All the churches are elaborately painted and decorated.
Petrozavodsk is the capital of Karelia-the country of blue lakes and rapid rivers, noisy pine-trees and stern cliffs.The history of the town is closely associated with the name of Peter I.According to his will, the gun-founding factory was build on the Onega lake in 1703.This area,known as Petrovskaya Sloboda,grew up (it was renamed as Petrozavodsk in 1777) faster.There are museums of local lore and arts,dramatic,musical and puppet-theatres.
Located in the center of the lake’s northern part is the archipelago consisting of fifty islands and named after the biggest,Valaam.There on the high cliffs stands the Valaam Transfiguration Monastery,a major place of pilgrimage in Russia,a realm of elders and ascetics,a land steeped in holiness.The monastery founded in the 10th century is stauropegial,which means that it is directly guided by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.The name of Valaam can be translated from Finish as “the high land”.Sometimes the name of the island is attributed to the biblical prophet Balaam or, more likely,to the Slav pagan idol BaalюOne of Valaam legends says that a long time ago the island used to be a huge site of pagan sacrifices.The total area of the Valaam archipelago is 36 km,with a maximum length of 13 and 8 km.Its rocky islands are covered with coniferous woods,picturesque grasslands and green meadows.It is the place where the God-created beauty of the islands and the man-made beauty of architecture and art blend harmoniously.The imposing blue cathedral domes of the monastery located in the southern part of the island near the Monastery Bay can be seen from almost any point.Some of the Valaam islands are joined by bridges.There are nine small lakes in the main island of the archipelago. Straits ,bays,lakes surrounded by thick plants and sullen granite rocks reflect everything in their azure depths.The nature of Valaam is unique.The monks did not cut down trees,they used only fallen ones for construction and heating.The only large beasts here are elk,but one can encounter hares,foxes, and squirrels which are not afraid of people because they have never been hunted.Valaam separated by nature from secular settlements is an ideal place for monastic life and soltitude,as if especially destined to glorify God.Austere, almost vertical rocky shores,like sullen granite walls,rise as high as 50 m above sea-level.According to tradition,the monastery was established in 992 by the Greek monks Sergius and Herman who came here seeking soltitude for their ascetic endeavours.Over and over again the monastery was destroyed.Located on the border of the Novgorod-the-Great lands and Sweden it was ravaged by the Swedes several times.In 1611 they alighted at Valaam for the last time and gave everything to fire and the sword.The island remained deserted until 1715 when the monastery was revived by Peter the Great.Russian emperors Alexander I,Alexander II and Nicholas II came to venerate this sacred place. Most of the elegant monastery structures date from the 19th century.The heart of the cloister is the Transfiguration Cathedral (1887-1896) designed by Karpov and other architects.Another marvelous construction is St.Nicholas’ Church in the skete of the same name by Gornostayev.The monastery was a source of inspiration for many well-known figures of Russian culture,the poet Tiutchev, composer Tchaikovsky and painter Shishkin among them.The long austere service sung in plaintive ancient Znameny chant bespoke the timelessness of eternity.The church glowed in the light of a thousand candles and the icons reflected the uncreated light that emanated from the rites and the mysteries. About 200 monks led an ascetic life on Valaam at that time.They lived in prayer ans ascetic labour.The monastery had different workshops:a smithy, carpenter’s,candle-making factory,icon-painting studio,photographer’s,diary, library,printing house,shipyard and shoe-maker’s.Monks were also occupied in wood-carving,fishing and gardening.Though the climate of Valaam is harsh, the monastery gardens yielded large crops, even watermelons and pumpkins grew here.The monastery farm produced milk, butter and cheese for both monks and pilgrims.In 1940 Valaam became the Soviet territory.The monks had to move to Finland where they founded the New Valaam cloister.They took with them the monastery library consisting of 30.000 books.During World War II the archipelago was occupied by Finns.In the days of the war Valaam was bombarded but the damage was not derious,Sts Sergius and Herman protected their monastery.Only the ruins of the Finnish officers’ club,some fortifications and dining-hall reminds us of those days.After the war the monastery was used as a boarding house for disabled soldiers and elderly people.In 1986 the Transfiguration Cathedral was given back to the Church. In 1992 most of the clerical and administrative buildings were returned to the monastery.However the main monastic aim is not the restoration of the walls but raising man in Christ’s spirit, living in patience and keeping a clean conscience.Thousands of tourists and pilgrims come to Valaam. The sky seems closer to one standing on its hills. “Let God give you what you are seeking here!”, said one monk to the popular Russian writer Ivan Shmelev who visited the island in the early 20th century.
The fortress of Oreshek is situated at the source of the Neva River.It’s located at Orekhovy (“Nut”) island washed by the Neva two channels.The history of the island is dated back to 1228 when it was mentioned for the first time in the Novgorod chronicle.In 1300 a Swedish sentry-post was disposed there.The Novgorodians banished the Swedes from the Neva area and in 1323established a little fortress with stone tower and circular wooden walls on this strategic point.The fortress marked the beginning of the town of Schlisselburg, centre of a large frontier area.The “Peace of Orekhovy island”, determining the Russian-Swedish frontier was concluded there.In 1348 the Swedes violated the treaty,captured the fortress and detained it for 7 years.During the assault the Novgorodians set the fortress on fire,but a few years later they rebuilt it in stone.It was located in the south-east of island .In 1410 the town was encircled with stone walls too.The fortress was restored in the 15th and 16th centuries, when Orekhovy town became a part of the State of Moscow.The walls surrounding the whole island were12 m high and 4,5 m wide.Seven towers for cannon and gun fire were erected. However,in 1617 Russia ceded the NevaRiver area including Oreshek to the Swedes.During the Northern War the fortress was set free by Russian forces with Peter I as the head.Peter renamed the fortress, being called by the Swedes Noterburg,into Schlisselburg-“Key town” in town.Later the fortress has lost its military function,and in 1798 a prison was established (tsar`s political adversaries ,escaped peasants,decembrists were imprisoned here,as well as men of “Narodnaya Volya”,Lenin`s brother-A.I .Ulianov was put to death).In the late 1920-s the Museum of Revolution has been organized.During the Great Patriotic war Schlisselburg served as outpost for our forces in the area of the Neva River and Ladoga Lake.The fortress defense finished with raising of the blockade .Now it’s a branch of the Leningrad -St.Petersburg Museum of History.Two channels-channel of Old Ladoga and New Ladoga-pass on the territory of Schlisselburg, and flow into the Neva River down the fortress.In 18th century the town was known for repair shops and printed cotton industry.From the ship one can view the block of the former printed cotton mill,now a part of the Neva shipbuilding and ship-repair plant.
Located on the steep left bank of the Volga river,Myshkin is a “hospitable” provincial town in Yaroslavl region perfectly cherishing true Russian traditions and special beauty of the Russian culture.You’ll surely be fascinated by its unique “Mouse Museum” (by the way, the name of the town is derived from mysh meaning “mouse” in Russian).There are also Museum of Valenki (valenki are Russian felt boots),ethnographical museum,art gallery and much interesting exposition “Russian linen”.
RIVERS,CANALS AND LAKES
The river forms a wide delta,receiving water from some 200 tributaries (long rivers,small streams and brooks).The Volga basin supplies 25% of all of Russia’s crops and one-fifth of its industrial fishing.It contains 70 species of fish,including 40 industrial (roach,herring,bream, pike-perch, wild carp, silurus, pike, sturgeon, sterlet and others).The Volga has always been a major route connecting north and south.It is navigable from the town of Rzhev downstream .In the town of Tver it is 200 meters wide. Forty cities and towns,and 1,000 smaller settlements,lie along it,most of them on the high right bank, including Tver, Rybinsk, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Ulianovsk, Samara, Saratov, Volgograd(Stalingrad,Tsaritsyn before 1917) and Astrakhan.
The Svir unites the two biggest lakes in Europe,Onega and Ladoga.It issues from the former and empties into the latter.The river, which is 224 km long,is a part of the White Sea-Baltic and Volga-Baltic Canal system.Two hydroelectric stations are active on it,one upstream and the other downstream.The Svir banks are marvelous in their diversity:sheer and covered with woods or crowned with red vertical rocks alternating with green velvet marshes.For a long time these lands were wild and thinly populated.During the Mongol invasion people fled to towns,not to dense woods .In 1487 the monk Alexander from the Valaam Monastery (canonized by the Russian Church) came to these parts and founded a cloister that is known now as St.Alexander Svirsky’s Monastery.It was destroyed by the Swedes in 1561,the Poles and Lithuanians in 1613,and the Soviets after 1917.The cloister is being restored now.The holy relics of its founder have recently been found in a museum and transferred to the monastery.The Svir provides the country with good timber floated downstream by local inhabitants and stored there.The river is abundant in fish, especially salmon and trout.It is not,however,very good for navigation as it is not deep (up to 5 m in autumn) but meanders,has rapids and is often fogbound.All these factors, however,don’t hinder courageous and experienced captains safely steering their ships up and downstream.A small town of Svirstroy with a population of 1,500 and the Nizhnesvirskaya hydroelectric power station were built simultaneously.The Svir was canalized and the most dangerous of its rapids inundated,making the river navigable.The station is located on a small island in the middle of the dam that is 30 m high and 1.5 km long.
The Neva River,which has its source in Lake Ladoga,is 72 km long and empties into the Gulf of Finland.The river’s name is derived from the Finnish word nevo,for “swampy”;it is a suitable description of the river estuary.The Neva,which was first claimed by the principality of Novgorod during the ninth century,has always been a bone of contention between Sweden and Russia.Peter the Great secured Russia’s claim by defeating the Swedes in the Northern War(1700-1721).To strengthen his claims and the victory he founded his new capital,St.Petersburg,on the river estuary.The Neva is an important river that was built along more than 42 islands,and which has been divided up by a system of waterways and tributaries.Apart from Lake Ladoga the Neva also supplies St.Petersburg with drinking water.But like many other rivers that flow through capital cities,the Neva has lately become very polluted and the supply of clean water has become a growing problem.The journey by ship from St.Petersburg to Lake Ladoga passes through beautiful landscapes.The raised riverbank (between 3 and 9 m) is very impressive,as is the width of the river (between 250 and 1,300).On the 23 km stretch within the boundaries of St.Petersburg, the suburbs and villages lie on the banks of the river.The farther one goes from St.Petersburg the more natural the scenery becomes.The water is between 8 and 24 m deep and the average velocity of flow is 4 km/hour. Because of the proximity to the Baltic Sea the climate is damp and wet.In midsummer temperatures can rise to 30 degrees C.
The Sheksna,which connects the Rybinsk reservoir and the White Lake,consists of three parts:the upper Sheksna (52 km long),the Sheksna reservoir (66 km) and the Lower Sheksna (68 km).The upper Sheksna and the Sheksna Reservoir are separated from the lower Sheksna by a dam at the hydroelectric power station.The name of the river is derived from Finnish and means “the sedge-covered tributary”;sedge is a grass-like plant.The original construction of the Mariinsk Waterway did not interfere with the course of the Sheksna.However, subsequent modifications made it necessary to straighten the riverbed and build a new network of locks.The construction of the Volga Baltic Canal led to considerable widening and deepening of the river, which also resulted in flooding of extensive areas of forest.
Peter I had an idea to make a waterway from Moscow to the Baltic Sea,as it could be quite reliable and cheap.For this purpose he used to go to the town of Dmitrov to research the future water route .However,the real potential for linking the Volga and the Moskva River was talked about quite seriously only 100 years later.A great volume of work was planned,but all kinds of activities at the canal ended,because of construction of the railway line between Moscow and St.Petersburg.Only at the beginning of the 1930s did the idea of linking the Volga with the Moskva occur again.The canal was created in unprecedented time,4 years and 8 months,and it was put into operation on 15 July 1937.Its total length is 128 km,of which 19 km are taken up by reservoirs.The Canal of Moscow is 47 km longer than the Panama Canal,29 km longer than the Kyl Canal and 71 km longer than Manchester’s.For short periods builders have erected 240 large structures including 11 locks,11 dumps,19 bridges,3 river ports,a passenger terminal and other structures. Currently all activities conducted here are taking place due to the need to supplement the available water resources in the reservoir for eventual transfer to the Greater Moscow city water-supply.In the process of construction 202 million cubic meters of ground works have been carried out.By comparison,the volume of ground works at the Suez Canal accounted for 75 million cubic meters,2.7 times less. Furthermore,it was completed in only 10 years.If we could load all the ground displaced during the construction into rail vans,the giant train would go around the equator 5.5 times.The canal was mainly built by political prisoners who worked in terrible conditions.In 1947 when the capital was celebrating its 800th anniversary and the canal its 10th anniversary,it was named after Moscow.It serves various purposes. Historically plagued by short water supply, Moscow by the 1930s urgently needed a link to a major water source.Well water utilized in the 1700s had long dried up;spring water used in the 1800s had also been exhausted.A 1904 pipeline to the Moscow River provided relief for only about 25 years,after which the river became so depleted that it could be crossed on foot in front of the Kremlin.The channel made the water level much higher,which has enabled navigation,and new ports have been opened.The banks of the channel are a popular pleasure resort for Muscovites. Moscow became the port of five seas.Currently this route annually carries about 1 million tons of cargo for the ports of the Baltic,White,Caspian,Azov and Black seas.In the shortest time,builders have erected a marvelous monument-one of the best and largest navigation canals of the world.
Rybinsk Sea is one of the biggest manmade reservoirs in the world.It stretches for 140 km,reaching a width of up to 60 km.From here a route to the Baltic Sea through the Volga-Baltic system can be laid. The route also runs to the White Sea via the Belomor-Baltic Canal.We also can run down the Volga to the Caspian,Azov and Black Seas through a Rybinsk lock.The Rybinskoye Sea is the first fresh sea created during the Soviet period.Building began before the great Patriotic War with Fascist Germany.It was filled only in 1947,when the Volga,Mologa and Sheksna Rivers as well as many small rivers carried into it hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of vernal (spring) floods.Twenty-five billion cubic meters of water put into motion turbines of the hydro plant as well as making it possible to travel to five seas.The Rybinsk lock is very big and interesting.It has two sections and vessels running in opposite directions can be transferred simultaneously.After the huge sea we find ourselves on a narrow river.
The Volga-Baltic Waterway
The Volga-Baltic Waterway from north to south consists of the Vytegra Canal,the water distribution canal of the Kovzha river,the White Lake and the Sheksna River.It connects the Baltic to the Caspian Sea.The canal has eight locks,eight hydroelectric power stations and innumerable dams and bridges. The landscape along the Volga-Baltic Waterway has its own particular charm.By now the canal is so narrow that the banks,overgrown with trees,are near enough to touch.There are some places where the forest was flooded a long time ago,and only the skeletons of trees rise out of the water.By damming up the rivers,constructing hydroelectric power stations and flooding,the Soviets changed the natural course of the rivers.Along the riverbank the view alternates between picturesque villages, with typical colorful wooden houses,and gray industrial towns.These forests of deciduous and evergreen trees lend the region a mysterious beauty and form the major source of income here. Timber sites,barges,storehouses and saw mills can be seen all along the canal.
Ladoga Lake is the largest in Europe,twice as large as Onega.It is 18,000 square kilometers in area, with a maximum length of 219 km,an average width of 83 km and an average depth of 50 m.Its boundless space looks like a sea,as no shore is visible from its open part.The depression of the lake was produced by the action of glaciers,which is why seals still live there.Many rivers and streams empty into Ladoga while only the Neva issues from it.Its southeastern shores are low and regular, with no islands nearby.The northwestern part that we are bound for has numerous islands fringing the shores,which are high,craggy and broken by deep fjord-like inlets.Islands mirror in their shape the line of the shores and form reefs.They are strikingly beautiful with their high sheer granite rocks sharply rising above the water.Coniferous trees grow on them,stretching out their branches to the dim sun of the north.Many quarries have been active on the northern shores.Granite obtained there was used for St.Petersburg’s construction.When Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) was under siege by the Germans (1941-1944),Ladoga Lake was the lifeline connecting it with the rest of the country. Supplies and military equipment were brought to the city and the sick were evacuated from it across the water and ice.Today ships and boats conveying passengers from St.Petersburg to Moscow,Nizhny Novgorod and Astrakhan and tourists to Valaam and the fortress of Oreshek cross Ladoga Lake.
Traversing the White Lake should take only about two hours.Although this naturally formed lake is quite large (1,380 km) it is still technically considered part of the Volga-Baltic canal.Mention of the ancient White Lakehas been frequent in Russian history and folklore ever since its shores were settled by Veps tribes in the eighth century.Ever since,it has steadily served as a trade bridge between Russia’s North and South.In the 17th century,the lake became known as the “tsar’s fishing grounds, ”as government boats cruised around enforcing a fish tax on all fishermen but those from nearby monasteries.The lake was incorporated into the Mariinskaya System in the 19th century,and subsequently into the Volga-Baltic canal.It was used to absorb the overflow of the Sheksna River,a role that influenced its natural currents and flooded portions of its shores.The circular shoreline formed over thousands of years and suddenly disappeared.Decaying,submerged forests soon endangered the underwater ecosystem.A host of rivers flows into the White Lake,contributing to its 1,400 sq.km area.Only one river,the Sheksna,drains the lake.The lake bottom,for the most part, is uniformly flat and sandy,making for a consistent depth of five meters.Northern winds occasionally induce sizable daytime swells,while fogs can creep in and cover the lake during still nights.For most of the summer though,ships can count on smooth and easy sailing.
The shape of Lake Onega is reminiscent of a lobster with only one claw.Covering an area of 10,000 sq.km,it is the second largest lake in Europe.The average depth is 30 m,but parts of the lake are 120 m deep.More than 50 rivers feed it,but only one-the Svir-originates from it.There are more than 1,300 islands in the lake,mostly in the north,where there are many pinewoods on the edges of the rocky fissured shores.In the middle and the southern areas,where sandy shores merge with shallow bays full of sedge,we mostly find lime and edge trees.Nature and wildlife contribute to the attraction of the Onega region.There are more than 40 types of fish in the lake including salmon and trout.The trout stocks were bred artificially using fish from Lake Sevan in Armenia.Although the lake water has a brown tint,it is very clean and has a high mineral content.The northern location explains the severe climate. Frequent storms give rise to waves of up to 5 m.