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Micha Jelisavcic

John Sloan


This is the 'cover page' for information devoted to Russian cities along the Volga River. The extensive photography (see volgapics for views along the river) that is being added was taken by the authors during two delightful cruises in June 1998 and July 2003. The text descriptions were prepared from many reference works owned by the authors, including 19th century books translated by Mr. Jelisavcic. Both cruises were organized for us by the International Fine Arts Institute The cities and towns are listed below in two parts. Part I is a sequential listing of all noted villages and landmarks from Moscow to Samara. Part II is a detailed description of the history of the major cities along the route. For pictures of each city please check the links below or go to ruscity. Here is a picture of our cruise ship in 1998 - the Chaliapin. And here are photos of our cruise ship in 2003 - the Pallada. And in 2005 we cruised on the Chernishevski north to St. Petersburg.


The following list includes all the villages, towns and landmarks such as dams listed in Russia river tour guide books between Moscow and Samara in sequence from north to south. This is provided to enable travelers to identify villages as they are passed. For smaller places only a few words of comment are provided. However significant information is provided for the larger villages and the towns. Those are shown by the blue link from the table of contents to the discussion section.


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In this section we have compiled extensive information on the history of these cities, especially their medieval history and roles in the conflict between the Russians and Tatars and in the internal struggle for supremacy that ultimately resulted in the triumph of Muscovy.


The Cultural Life of the Dmitrov Udel
Historical Relics of the Era of Yuri Vasilyevich
The Pyeshnoshskiy Nicholayevskiy Monastery
The Icon "Uspenie" and other icons in the Museum of Andrei Rublev
The Icon, life of "Ioan Bogoslov" from the Borisoglebsk Monastery.
The Volokolamsk and Borisoglebsk Monasteries.












Tserkov' Dimitriya, chto na krovi at Uglich.
The Church of the Assumption at Uglich.


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Our trip begins at the North river terminal pier located on the Moscow canal at the Khimki reservoir in the north-west section of Moscow. The construction of the canal began in September 1932 and it was opened on 15 July 1937. The navigable part of the canal is 128 km long of which 25 km crosses the reservoir. The construction of the canal has cut down the distance to Nizhni-Novgorod by 140 kilometers. Not a very substantial length if compared to the distance shortened to St. Petersburg - 1100 kilometers. The next reservoir is called the Klyazminskoye named after the river Klyazma.
The canal between the Volga and Moscow rivers crossed the Klinski-Dmitrovski upland. The central part of that between locks 6 and 7 lies 38 meters above the Volga and 42 meters above the level of the Moscow river. The water is stored with the help of five powerful power stations .
In the Moscow region in the Shchukino section the canal is united with the Moscow river. The building of the Northern river station was built as a project of the architect A. M Rukhlyadev. The building is about 85 meters tall.
Passing under the large arches of the bridge of the St. Petersburg highway uniting the Kimkinski reservoir with the Klyas'minski. On the right is Levobereshnaya and on the opposite side the town of Kimki.

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KHIMKI - left bank

Here a forest park provides a rest haven for Muscovites. The next seven km of canal are called "Gluboki viemki",


The surface provides much opportunity for water sports.

VINOGRADOVO - right bank

The village is not far from the village Vodniki on the banks of a small river. It was once the domain of the ancestors of A. S. Pushkin. The next sight is on the right. It is the Gorki pier. Not far from it is the "Happiness inlet," a week-end swimming hole.

KHLEBNIKOVO - left bank

Village with church just before the bridge.

Railroad bridge

BODNIKI - right bank

Small village around the bridge.

LOBNYA - left bank

Small village just beyond the bridge.

PUSHKINO - right bank

On the banks of the Pestovskyi reservoir is the former estate of the hero of the war of 1812, general A.P. Yermolov. On the right as the ship turns up is the Uchinskoye reservoir, an artificial shoal barrier separates it from the river Ucha in the locale of Pushkino.


After negotiating a connecting canal, the ship enters the narrow Pyalovskoye reservoir.

VITENEVO - right bank -

At the village of Vitenyevo lived M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin, who was visited by other writers such as N.A. Nekrasov, I. S. Turgenev, and A.N. Pleshchev.

FEDOSKINO - left bank

Somewhat to the left near the village of Aksakovo on the river Ucha is the village of Fedoskino. The real boom in papier mache miniatures began at the end of the 18th century when a Russian merchant, P. I. Korobov, opened a workshop in Danilkovo, now Fedoskino, another village near Moscow. See details below in discussion of lacquer box towns around Moscow. This is part of the web site on Moscow and surrounding cities.See details below.

MARFINO - left bank

On the left bank is the very interesting village of Marfino. In 1585 it was the votchina of the famous learned clerk (Dumnyi Dyak), Vasilii Yakovich Shchelkalov. The brothers Vasilii and Andrei Shchelkalov at the end XVIth century, the former a Razryadnyi, the latter in the Posol'skyi Prikaz were both movers and shakers of state affairs under the reigns Fedor Ivanovich and Boris Godunov, and were associated with the Grand Duke of Austria Maximilian and the minister of the queen Elizabeth of England, Cecil. On the bank a stately mansion can be seen belonging once to the Baroness Panina. Behind it is church of amazing architectural simplicity. It was built at the bequest of prince Boris Alexeiyevich, by his serf Vladimir Ivanovich Byelozerov, a self-educated architect. Prince B. A. Golitsin, teacher of Peter I, had a residence here also. Then the Russian field marshal of the Seven Year's War, P. S. Saltikov also lived here. In the late 1830s, Mikhail Bykovskii rebuilt the main house and other structures in the pseudo-Gothic style. The historian N. M. Karamzin and artist I. I. Levitan also lived here.

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The boat passes from the Pyalovski to the Pestovski reservoir via a canal. On the bank of the reservoir is the former home of the hero of the 1812 war, A. P. Yermolov. There remains a home from the early 19th century and an inn from the end of the 18th century. Now there is also a rest home, "Pestovo". Among the frequent visitors were K. S. Stanislavski, V. I. Nemirovich- Danchenko, and V. I. Kachalov.

PRAVDINSKII - right bank

Village back from the bank on the main road from Pushkino.

ROZHDESTVENO - right bank

Not far from the end of the Pestovski reservoir a bit back from the bank is the home of the great Russian military leader, A. V. Suvorov. In the 18th century church lies his father's tomb and a memorial built by Suvorov to his father.


This is fed by the Uchye river near Pushkin. From here the water moves through a powerful hydroelectric station servicing a major part of Moscow.


This is reached through another canal.


IKSHA - left bank

Small town with railroad station. The main canal to the Volga starts here. The railroad line follows the bank first on the left and then the right. At Iksha there are burial grounds from the pre-historic Fat'yanovski culture. In 2 kilometers from lock #6 we reach lock #5.

LOCK - #5

The entrance to this has a sculpture of a girl over the model of a ship.

PARAMONOVO - left bank

In the region of the Volgyshi River there is a tourist and alpinist base. There is also a cemetery of Soviet war dead from the Second World War. And in the village Ol'govo, back from the left bank, is the former home of Field Marshal S. F. Apraksin (18th century).

SVISTUKHA - right bank

Small village on opposite bank at lock #4.


While still on the Moscow canal after passing the Yakhromskoye reservoir, on the river by the same name is the village of Il'ynskoye with its high hill called the "The Billy Goat," where once there was an ancient Slav settlement. See details below.

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On the bastion of the lock is a model of the ship of Columbus.

YAKHROMA - left bank - railroad bridge

There is a large factory here. Six kilometers further is Dmitrov. Between Yakhroma and Dmitrov is the location where the German advance reached its farthest and Russian troops in hand to hand combat held the canal in the winter of 1941.


The canal is descending rapidly from the watershed. The rivers Yakroma on the left and Dubna on the right feed it.

DMITROV - right bank

An ancient town founded in 1154. Now Dmitrov is an important commercial center. The town has the regional museum in the former Uspenski cathedral. See longer discussion below.

On the river Ikishl' some thirteen kilometers from Dmitrov is the village of Dedenevo also known as Novospasskoye, were legend has it in 1293, the instigator of feuds between Alexander Nevskyi's sons, the Tatar warlord, Deden or Duden was surrounded and killed. In a church in the village, great prince Vasilii Dmitriyevich offered an icon symbolizing prince Stepan Vasiliyevich Komrin's vasselage of his votchina, the village of Dedenevo. Prince Komrin was the ancestor of the boyar lineage of Goloviny. It is of interest to know if the church is still there.

SIN'KOVO - left bank

Small village

NADESHDINO - right bank

Another small village. The former home of the Decembrist B. S. Norov.

NASADKINO - left bank

A small village back from the bank.

ZAPRUDINA - right bank

A larger village located along the railroad line.

TEMPI - right bank

Located to the right of the large lock


Here we enter the Ivan'kovski Reservoir.


This backs up the Volga itself clear to Tver. But we turn off shortly.

NIKOL'SKOYE - left bank

Small village with church well back from the bank.

DUBNA - both banks

Here is the large dam that holds the Volga back with its associated lock. Here is the large Ivan'kovski hydroelectric station in front of which there is a monumental sculpture of Lenin by S. D. Merkurov. The town has a nuclear research institute. This is the last town in Moscow Oblast. From here we are in the Tver Oblast. From lock #1 we are actually on the Volga.

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KIMRI - left bank

At the Bol'shaya Volga pier, the ship turns right passing through lock number 1 and enters the Volzhskhoye reservoir and proceeds to the city of Kimri, a shoe-makers center, and the first among the cities lying on the industrial corridor of the Volga. Beyond Kimri on the banks of the Volga and on the road to Kalyazin' can be seen the traces of ancient cities of the Tver Principality. Belyi Gorodok and the village Sknyatino at the mouth of the river Nerle which once held a fortified place. On the meadow bank close to the small river Kashinka is the village of Kashinskoye Ust'e and some 12 kilometers the very ancient city of Kashin, located on this small tributary to the Volga. It was once an outpost of the Suzdal principality, first mentioned in the chronicle as existing in 1238.

SAVELOVE - right bank

A small suburb of Kimri

BELII GORODOK - right bank

Ancient fortification at mouth of the Nerli.


Flows into the Volga 28 Km from Kimri.


At the river mouth a small town.

NERL' RIVER - right bank

NOVOYE USTINOVO - right bank on river

Small village on railroad at the Bolnushka river and Nerli

Railroad Bridge

KASHINKI RIVER - left bank

A larger tributary

KASHIN - left bank on Kashinki river

Kashin was traded off by Rostov princes and came under the principality of Tver in the beginning of the XIVth century. In 1319, Saint Michael bequested Kashin to his son Vasilii. This Vasilii was none other than prince Vasilii Mikhailovich. Nephews and sons of the oldest brother of the great prince of Tver Alexander. The son of prince Vasili Kashinskyi inherited the Kashin udel and married in 1349 the daughter of great prince Simeon the Good Looking. The struggle for control over Kashin continued until 1591, when Tsar Feodor Ivanovich appointed the first "Sanovnik" of the Moscow State, prince Feodor Ivanovich Mstislavskyi. Following the devastation of the time of troubles, in 1661 Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich re-built the fortifications of the city of which there remains only three earthen ramparts.South of the Kashin river is the village of Spasskoye, the home of the writer M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin.

KALYAZIN - right bank

An interesting sight is the lonely belfry on the mirror-like surface of the river. Once it belonged to the church of the Trinity which was built of stone in 1654 and held the sepulcher of the monk Makarii Kalyazinskyi. Presently the belfry is a tourist curiosity. Prior to taking monastic vows, Makarii was Matvei Kozhin, whose family owned the lands around Kozhino situated to the south of Kashin. The town called Kalyazin was built on the ruins of an ancient monastery of Nicholas on Zhabnye, whose monks where chased out by the Poles in 1610. In 1634 however, during an outbreak of typhoid, the family of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and Patriarch Nikon found refuge behinds its towers and emballatures. The fable writer Krylov started his career as a office clerk in Kalyazin. From here we enter the Yaroslavl Oblast.

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SHABIHA RIVER - right bank

ZABOLSH'YE - left bank

Small village

SELISHCHYE - right bank

Small village

NOVOSELKI - right bank

Small village


The drop is about 12 meters.

UGLICH - right bank

This was an important medieval town, now it lives on tourist visitors - see details below.

ULYEIMA - right bank

Small village where there was the Nikolo-Ulyeima Monastery that retains some architecture from the 17th-18th centuries - the Nikol'ski cathedral, Bvyedynshi Church with trapezodial base, stone walls, towers.

ZOLOTORUCH'YE - right bank

A kilometer past Uglich on the right bank is the village of Zolotoruch'ye along side of which one can view a Mesozoic watering hole and a pre-history settlement, Slavic and Merian burial grounds and the site of a Fat'yan village.

SELIVANOVO - right bank on river Ulyeime

Was attacked by the Poles during the Time of Troubles

BOL. LISITSINO - left bank

Small village

KABANOVO - left bank

Small village

UMMA - right bank

Small Village

MISHKINO - left bank

Larger village


Right hand tributary

YEREMYEITSYVO - right bank

Village on the river bank.

VOLGA AND STANTSIYA VOLGA - left bank - bridge

This is the northernmost point of the Volga journey.

BOROK - left bank

Small village where there is a scientific research center for biology.

MOLOGA - left bank

Mologa is the phantom town on the Volga's left bank. In the XIIth century it was part of the Rostov principality and then in the XIIIth century - the Yaroslav principality. Following a history during which it blossomed as a trade center, the river silted and the wharfs were abandoned in the latter half of the XIXth century. Now it is under the reservoir.

SITI RIVER - left bank

The river is a tributary of the Mologa, which in turn flowed into the Volga just to the left of the entrance to the present Ryibinskoye Reservoir. At this place the Mongol armies surprised and defeated the final Muscovite field army in 1239. See details below.

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This was formed in 1941-45 by the dam that blocks the Volga and Sheksn rivers. It is 140 km long and 60 km wide. It takes the boat 2 hours to cross just the lower corner of the reservoir. Of course many towns were submerged by the flood.

PEREBORI - right bank

Village suburb of Rybinsk. There is a monument nearby at the entrance to the lock.


RYBINSK - both banks

In 1711, Peter the Great built a canal called Vyshnevolotskyi and revived trade on the Volga. The town grew, first as a fishing port and then as a river town for shipping on the Marinsk system by which goods flowed to Petersburg. On its banks stands the beautiful Transfiguration cathedral. In 1777 the town was called Ribnaya sloboda.

SPAS - left bank


PYESOCHNOYE - right bank

A short distance away is the village Pesochnoye renowned for its china factory owned by Kusnetsov in Tsarist times.

SAVINSKOYE - left bank

Small village

IL'INSKOYE - right bank

Small village see details below.

URDOMA RIVER - left bank

At this point Batu's Mongol horde crossed the Volga on the ice on its way to defeat the Muscovite army at the Siti River.

TUTAYEV - left bank

Located 52 km from Rybinsk, Romanov-Borisoglebsk (during Soviet times known as Tutayev) reminds us of the dual estates existing side by side only separated by the river Volga. The right bank belonging to one owner, the left to another. Romanov got its name from its founder a saint, Prince Roman, who took monastic vows in the cathedral of Uglitsk. This town was under the continuous rule of the Yaroslavl princes. Romanov lies on the left bank and is adorned by the former Pokrovskii monastery and earthen ramparts. In ancient times, Romanov was known for its fine wool and lined calf-skin coats. Borisoglebsk situated across and likewise on a high bank of the Volga, was a "sloboda,' owned solely by the Moscow tsars and was used for trapping animals. With the fall of the Povolzhiye appenages of the Princes it was taken over under the reign of Ivan III in 1584, but continued to pay tribute to the Tatars. The Resurrection cathedral was built in 1652.
The Norskii area was also a fur trapping enclave and later under Peter the great gained renown as his choice for clothiers, the Zatrapeznov and Trapeznikov factories which the tsar favored. Across from the Norskii manufacturing plant, is the Tolgskii monastery, named for a small stream running close to the Volga. In 1683, a two-story, five cupola brick church was built. This was supplemented by the devout worshipers of Yaroslavl with three more churches. Restoration work on these has been on-going.

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PECHEGDA RIVER - right bank


Small village

IT' RIVER - left bank

UST'YE - left bank

At the It' river. There is the Pekshinski Kurgan ancient burial mounds from the 11th - 12th centuries here.


Small village

YAROSLAVL' - right bank

The city of Yaroslavl is situated on the right bank of the river Volga, where it extends for 25 kms. It is thought that at the very beginning of the XIth century, Yaroslav Vladimirovich (1020-1064) cut down trees and built a wooden fort. The initial site was between the Volga and the Kotorosl rivers and the Medveditzei (bear) gorge was known as Rublennye Gorod or the "City of wood surrounded by a palisade and is the south-eastern side of the city. Several homes of princes (Terem) and churches are known to have existed there. The Tatars burned and pillaged the town in 1238. The principality was joined to Moscow by Ivan III in 1471. In 1536, the Zemlyangorod quarter of the city was built. The name is derived from the earthen rampart which was dug out at the beginning of the 16th century. It is dominated by the beautiful Ilynskhaya church. (See details below)

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A small village on the outskirts of Yaroslavl. Seedetails below.

NEKRASOVSKOYE - right bank

It is located 45 km along the Volga from Yaroslavl. Formerly it was called Bol'shi Soli but is now named for the author N. A. Nekrasov. The town has a monument to the poet. There is also a mineral water sanatorium.

RYIBNITSY - left bank

This village is connected with the sculptor A. M. Opekushin whose monuments of A.S. Pushkin in Moscow and M. Yu. Lermontov in Pyatigorsk are known by all Russians.

KR. PROFINTERN - left bank

Small town with railroad station.

CHERNAYA ZAVOD' - right bank

Small village

KOMINTERI - right bank

Small village

NEKROSOVO - left bank

The village of Nekrasovo, formerly Greshnevo, was the home of Nekrasov, the poet where he grew-up in the 1820s till the 1830s. Here, just before reaching Kostroma is the site which according to legend, the Kostromites in 1272 wiped out a Tatar tribute collecting column. To commemorate this event, at the end of the 17th century, a monument depicting a guard post was erected. There is also a neolithic settlement in this area.

KOSTROMA RIVER - left bank

The river formerly flowed into the Volga right at the town, but now due to the dam its entrance is 14 km up the river at the village Samyet.

KOSTROMA - left bank

Major city - high level highway bridge across river. See details below.

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MINSKOYE - left bank

Small village now, on the hill there is a settlement from the first millenium BC.

CHERNOPEN'YE - right bank

Small village

DERBILOVKA - right bank

Small village


On small tributary, there is an experimental agricultural station.


The river turns left in front of this town. It was the property of the Viazemski princes and before them the Gudonov family. They were patrons of the arts and encouraged the development of jewelry. It was known since medieval times for artistic masters and trade schools for artistic jewelry. A number of the towns on both banks in this region are also well known for this art work. The Church of the Epiphany, built in 1592, here was modeled after the tent shaped church at Kolomenskoye in Moscow. It also shows resemblance to the Cathedral of the Transfiguration at Bolshiye Viazemy and the Church of the Nativity in Besda, both of which towns were also owned by the Gudonovs.

SIDOROVSKOYE - right bank

Small village, one of the jewelry centers.

PRIVOLZHSK - right bank

A short distance up the Shacha river

SHACHA RIVER - right bank

Minor tributary

ABRAMOVO - left bank

Small village

PLYOS - right bank

This important town is 59 km from Kostroma in Ivanovo Oblast. - see details below

NOVLYANSKOYE - left bank

Small village

NIKULINO - right bank

Small village

KAMENKA - right bank

Small village

SUNSHA RIVER - right bank

NAVOLOKI - right bank

A school in this small town

ZAVOLZHSK - left bank

A new town previously the working suburb of Kinyeshma

KINYESHMA - right bank

First mentioned in the chronicles for 1429 when it was destroyed and burned by the Tatars. The Uspenski Cathedral dates from the 18th century and the Troitski Cathedral is from the 19th century. In the 18th-19th centuries it was famous throughout Russia and abroad. The great Russian dramatist A. N. Ostrovski lived here and produced world acclaimed works. Admiral A. P. Nevel'ski (1813-1876), who opened the mouth of the Amur, was born here. The composer, A. P. Borodin lived here one summer when he worked on his opera Prince Igor. And the artist, B. M. Kustodiyev painted several paintings here. The town has many other 'favorite sons' including Marshal Vasilyevski.

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ZARECHNII - left bank

Small village

DOLMATOVSKII - left bank

Small village on the Mero river

RYESHMI - right bank

Ryeshmi has one monastery, the Makar'yev retreat. It was founded in the XVth century by Makar'yi Zheltovoskyi and one ancient church stands -- the Trinity. In 1439, the Tatars raided and chased Makar'yev out of his monastery. Saint Makar'yi hid in the dense woods and founded on the river Unzha a new cloister in which he lived for 69 years till 1502. See Makar'yev. In 1609 the peasants of this sloboda fought bravely against the Polish troops of Alexander Lisovski and in 1612, Prince Pozharskyi stopped here on the way from Nizhnyi to Moscow.

IL'ITSINO - left bank

Small village

MIKHAILOVO - right bank

Small village on the Yelnam river

YELNAM' RIVER - right bank

Small tributary

STOLPINO - left bank

Small town

ZAVRASH'YE - left bank

Small village at the confluence of the Volga and Ounzha rivers where the Volga turns sharply right.

YUR'YEVYETS - right bank

On the shore where the Volga turns to the right in front of the town. The mouth of the Ounzha used to be right in front of the town until the advent of the huge reservoir shifted everything. The Ounzha was a small stream but now is navigable for 400 km. Yur'yevyets was founded, as so many of the fortresses in the region were, by Yuri Vesvolodovich. There was an earthen rampart and the Bogoyavlyenski Church built in 1661. Ivan the Terrible gave this town to the Astrakhan Tsarevich Kaibul' in 1552. In 1609, Lisovski occupied the town but the inhabitants had run behind the Volga. In 1614, the Cossacks of Zarutskyi ravaged the town. Other than the earthen ramparts nothing remains of ancient monuments.

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SOKOL'SKOYE - left bank

Small town

PETROVO - right bank

Small village

PUCHYEZH - right bank

This river town, 43 km from Yur'yevyets, also has a monastery from the end of the XVIth century, founded by Moscow Metropolitan Iov and was closed in 1764. A spirits factory once employed a thousand workers. The former town is now half under water. The writer and illustrator P. A. Zarubin (1816-1886) was born here.

KATUNKI - right bank

Near here the Nizhni-Novgorod Oblast begins. There is an artists artel here.

CHKALOVSK - right bank

This was one of the oldest settlements of the Nizhni area called Vasilyevo, and it was re- named Chkalovsk. In ancient times this site was the so-called "B'yelgorod'ye," belonging to the Gorodetsk principality. When in 1608, the Tsar Vasilii Ivanovich Shuyskii married, late in his life, the princess Maria Petrovna Buinosova-Rostovskaya, he bequested B'yelgorod to her land holdings. Two years later, Vasilii Shuyskii was dethroned and forced to take monastic vows along with his wife. Despite the fact that the forced vows were officially denied, and that Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich recognized B'yelgorod as the domain of Marie Petrovna, she gave of her own will B'yelgorod to the Moscow Voznesenskyi Monastery, in which she lived out her life, and the town remained so till 1764. Here B. P. Chkalov (1904-1938) was born. He was the pilot of the ANT-25 that first flew over the North Pole to the United States in 1937. When one passes on the Volga, the Chkalov monument is prominent. It is a fighter plane on a pedestal perched on the river bank. There is a statue of Chkalov near the entrance to the kremlin in Nizhni Novgorod.

PURYEKH - right bank

This is another village famous for its wood crafts such as spoons, and for its copper ware such as cow bells, cymbals, platters, etc. The village and its surrounding lands were given by Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich to Prince Dmitrii Mikhailovich Pozharskyi for having thrown the Poles out of Moscow and so remained in his family till the name dissapeared. Prince Pozharskyi founded a monastery here which was closed in 1764. The church contains many items belonging to him, including the gonfalon he wore on the campaign to liberate Moscow.

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A major power station. There are upper and lower locks with a small lake and docks for mooring barges in between.

ZAVOLSH'YE - right bank

Next to the dam

GORODYETS - left bank

The town is on the high bank between the upper and lower locks. There are sections of the impressive medieval town rampart remaining. Once a major center for construction of wooden boats it is still a center of local arts and crafts. The art work is extended to the carved decorations, called nalichniki, on all the wooden houses. See details below.

PRAVDINSK - right bank

The location of a pulp and paper making and newsprint factory that supplies all central Russia including Moscow.

BALAKH'NA - right bank

On the right bank of the Volga is the township city of Balakh'na. Ivan III issued an edict following the capture of Novgorod in 1479, that all its citizens involved in the salt mining industry be transfered to this area, rich in salt. It was not until 1532 that salt was actually mined here. In 1535 the Kazan' Tatars attacked Balakhna, but where repulsed and thereafter, Helena Glinskaya, the motther of Ivan the Terrible, and governess of the region deemed it necessary to build a wooden fort on an earthen rampart, which is preserved to this day. In the "Time of Troubles", the Nizhnigorodtsy by concert of their monk Ioilya, impressed on the "Balakhontsy'" not to break ranks with them and reject that tsar of Moscow who took the throne, "That no Christian blood be spilt," however the Balakhontsy paid no heed to these warnings. The voevoda Alyab'yev was taken by force after rejecting an ultimatum by the Nizhnigorodtsy to put their arms down. However in 1612, Balakhna stood side by side with Nizhni against the Poles and this was where the campaign palace for Prince Pozharskyi was built. In the first half of the XVIIth century, ship-building grew, as evidence by the ship "Friedrikh," built in 1636, under the supervision of Cordess for the Holstein Embassy voyage to Persia. In 1695, shallow draft vessels called "Strugi" were built for the Azov campaign. Local trades manufactured bells and drinking cups and skilled carpenters abounded at the turn of the century. Now there is a major pulp - newsprint factory.

MAL. KOZINO - right bank

Small village

BOL. KOZINO - right bank

Small village

OKA RIVER - right bank

The important river that formed the southern boundary of early Medieval Muscovy. Into it flows the Moskva River. Hence it was the connecting link between Moscow and the Volga.

BOR - left bank

Small town

OKTYABR'SKII - left bank


NIZHNI NOVGOROD - right bank

Major city located on both banks of the Oka directly at its confluence with the Volga- see details below

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KSTOVO - right bank

A new town built in 1957.

BYEZVODNOYE - right bank

Ten km further, it stands on a high hill. The town is known for decorative arts.


The town is 55 km from Nizhni. It was formerly called Kadnits. Many of the Volga river pilots, captains and sailors live around here.

RABOTKI - right bank

Small town

SLOPINYETS - right bank

Small village

TATINYETS - right bank

Small village

LISKOVO - right bank

Situated across from Makar'yev on the right bank of the Volga. It is opposite the Kershenits River, a 212 km long and large tributary of the Volga. In ancient times on the site of this city stood the Bulgar city of Sundovit' which is the name for a stream now called Sundovik'. Perhaps this is the city that was taken at the time of the first Russian military campaign, below where the Oka flows into the Volga? The town is another medieval fortress from the 14th-16th centuries. In the chronicles this city is mentioned at the beginning of the XVth century. In 1411 it was here that a battle took place between the ousted sons of Prince Boris Constantinovich of Nizhni (Ivan and Danil') on one side and Prince Peter Dmitriyevich (the brother of the great prince Vasilii Dmitriyevich) on the other. The ousted and their allies the Bulgar princes and Zhukotinskiy were the victors. Here is the Spaso-Preobrazhenski Cathedral built in 1711. Also there is the Voznesinski Church from 1824.

MAKAR'YEVO - left bank

The ship has now entered the territory of the Mari autonomous region. Another city is called Ioshkar-Ola. The original site, for almost 300 years, of the famous Nizhni fair was at the huge, white-walled monastery in this town. It moved to Nizhni after being destroyed by fire in 1816. The monastery was founded in 1435 and soon sacked by the Tatars. It was rebuilt but again captured by Stenka Razin's forces in 1670. Tsar Feodor Ivanovich sent the boyar, Khvostov, to establish a cloister. The cloister gained such notoriety that the nun Marfa Romanova arrived in 1611 with her son Mikhail and prayed to God that Metropolitan Filaret Nikitich return from captivity. He was the father of the soon to be crowned Tsar Mikhail Romanov. When in 1618, Filaret returned to Moscow, Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich recalled his mother's earnest pleas and in 1620, he came to the monastery to pay homage to its namesake and made generous offerings to the cloister. When in 1609, the wooden walls of the monastery burned down, the tsar ordered them replaced with stone walls. The monastery had seven churches and one cathedral where the remains of Makariy are venerated. A well is said to have been dug by the founder, the monk Makariy.

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KRYEMYENKI - right bank

Along the river for the next several miles there are many fruit trees, especially apple orchards.

VYENYETS - right bank

Small village

KAMYENKA - left bank

Small village

SOMOVKA - right bank

One of the famous apple growing towns.


Small village

SURA RIVER - right bank

Important tributary, the Volga dams have so broadened the river that the channel runs through many islands and mudbanks. Careful piloting is required.

VASIL'SURASK - right bank on the Sura River

This was site of important fortress built on an elevation for Vasilii III in 1523 by Prince Andrei Gorbatyi, an envoy of Great Prince Vasilii Ivanovich to the Kazan tsar Saip'-Girei to facilitate defense against Tatars and serve as a staging place for campaigns against Kazan. Anthony Jenkinson stopped here, called then Vasil'-gorod. The ruins of the fortress were moved in 1556 from the lower bank to the hill and can be seen in the center square surrounded by an earthen rampart.

YURINO - left bank

A small village 27 km from Vasil'surask. Not far from this town in a small river by the name of Vetluga on which there is a village called Voskresenskoye and to the west of it on the river Lyund', a tributary is the village Vladimirskoye a short distance from which is the Lake Svyatoye, which is the subject of the poetic lore of the "Legend of the city of Kitizh", poetically told in "L'yesakh," by Mel'nikov-Pecherskyi. There was a Bolshevik operation here in the 1905 revolution.


One of the major tributaries, it flows from 850 km to the north east.

KOZ'MODYEM'YANSK - right bank

Located on a high hill 12 km from the Vetluga River. It was founded in 1552 by Ivan IV and garrisoned by Streltsi.

DUBOVSKII - left bank

Small village

SHUNANGYER - right bank

Small village

IL'INKA - right bank

Small village with a rest home.

CHEBOKSARI - right bank

Capital of the Chuvash Republic. The town is first mentioned in chronicles for 1371. For photos of this interesting town please go to Photos. Cheboksary (Sabowshare) was visited by Anthony Jenkinson, where he found the Mordva people subjugated by the Russian Tsar, pagan worshippers of which a few were converted to Orthodoxy, while living in the woods and unpopulated areas without cities or habitation. Among the medieval structures are the five-domed Vvedenski Cathedral with tower and the Troitski Monastery. There are also buildings such as the voyevod's home.

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SHORSHYELI - right bank

This is 15 km further at the confluence of the Tsivil River. It was the home of cosmonat Nikolayev.


A further 16 km brings us to this town in which there is a school for mechanization of agriculture. Along this part of the river we enter the huge Kyubishev Reservoir, which is largely bordered by rocky cliffs known as "zhigyuli" The Russians call this a 'sea'. It extends some 580 km up the Volga and 300 km up the Kama River.

NYERYADOVO - right bank

Small village

ZVYENIGOVO - left bank

Small village

KOZLOVKA - right bank

A Chuvash town. There is a cellulose factory here.

SLOBODKA - right bank

The mathematician, N. I. Lobachevski lived here (1792-1856).

VOLSHSK - left bank

A Mari town, also with a large cellulose-paper factory.

ZYELYENODOL'SK - left bank - bridge

The town was formerly called Paratsk. Here a large railroad bridge crosses the Volga, hence the new name.

VASIL'YEVO - left bank



Small but important tributary, but the Volga is very wide here drowning the actual confluence and creating many marshes and small islands on both sides.

SVIYAZHSK - right bank

Now the town is on an island visible from the Volga channel behind a screen of trees on numerous other islands and mud banks. It was built in 1551 as the closest Muscovite fortress to Kazan as part of the preparation for Ivan IV's siege of the city. Pskov artisans were brought here to construct the churches. The Nikolski church and the Uspenski Sobor date from the 16th century. The famous frescos depict Ivan IV and Metropolitan Makari. There is also the wooden Troitski church from the 16th century. A museum contains exhibits of the period. In the village square there is a memorial to 36 Communists who were executed here by White Guard troops in 1918.

YUDINO - left bank

Suburb of Kazan

KAZAN - left bank

The capital of the Tatar Republic. See below for details. The Volga turns more to the south. As before the right bank is hilly and the left lower. See details below.

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BERK. YUSLOM - right bank

Along the river at these two villages in 1918 there was a river battle between the Red Guard Volga flotilla and White Guard units.

NIZHNI YUSLOM - right bank

SHYELANGA - right bank

Known from the 16th century.

TYEN'KI - right bank

The Tatar resort where they grow berries is located here.

KRASNOVIDOVO - right bank

An ancient village in which at one time A. M. Gorki lived.

ANTONOVKA - right bank

They used to grow apples here also.

KAMSKOYE UST'YE - right bank

The village is 16 km from Antonovka. It is located at the point the Volga opens into the wider part of the reservoir. It was formerly called Bogorodskoye. It has fish and butter factories. There is a river trans-shipment point here.



Just to the right as the river turns right into the reservoir.

KUIBISHEVA - left bank


TEYETUSHI - right bank


UNDORI - right bank



Birthplace of such famous individuals as Goncherov, Kerenski, and V. Ulyanov. See details below.
The fortress to defend the Volga was built in 1648. Ilya Nikolayavich Ulyanov, Lenin's father, was superintendent of schools here.

VINNOVKA - right bank


NOVOUL'YANOVSK - right bank


SYENGILYEI - right bank

This was the Tatar settlement Sengili. The fortress was built in 1666.


NOVODYEVICH'YE - right bank

35 Km from the Cheremshan River. The place was owned by the Novodyevich'ye monastery in Moscow.

USOL'YE - right bank


The dam is 45 meters high and the walls rise 26 meters. The ships pass through two locks to complete the passage.

ZHIGULYEVSK - right bank

The location of oil wells and the site of one of the largest hydro-electric stations.


The region is a nature preserve. There are oil deposits in the region as well. The thickets were good hiding places for peasant and cossack rebels such as, in 1670 Stenka Razin used one of the kurgans (burial mounds) as an observation post.

STAVROPOL' - left bank

FYEDOROVKA - left bank

ZOL'NOYE - right bank


SHIRYAYEVO - right bank

VOLZHSKII - left bank

VIPOLZOVO - right bank

SAMARA (KUIBISHEV) - left bank

Located at the mouth of the Samar river. It is the second largest town now on the Volga after Nizhni. The fortress was built in 1586 to defend the southeast Muscovite border against Nogai and Crimean Tatar raids. In 1670 the towns south of Samara took part in the peasant uprising led by Stepan (Stenka) Razin. And again, in 1773-75 they likewise were involved in the rebellion led by Emyel'yan Pugachev. Alex Tolstoi was born here. On Chapayev square there are monuments to Soviet heros. During World War II Stalin ordered the construction of a secret underground bunker from which he would be able to conduct government. He never visited it, but the bunker is now open for guided tours. Now the town is a major industrial - space center. For photos of the city go to Samara. Return to TOP



Dmitrov is now the regional municipal center for the Moscow area. It is located 65 kilometers from Moscow on the river Yakhroma and is reachable by railroad on the Saveloskoye line on the inter-urban system which is also its terminus. A highway links it to Moscow. This city was founded by the prince of Rostov-Suzdal, Yuri Vladimirovich Dolgorukii on a site where he stayed while in exile from Kiev, in 1154, and named for his son, Vsevolod (subsequently, great prince Vsevolod III), whose was baptized Dimitri. Dmitrov grew as a fortress on the boundary of the Vladimir-Suzdal or Rostov-Suzdal principality. Archaeologists have proven that this settlement was in existence much earlier (XIth century), than has been recorded in the chronicles (XIIth century). The Vladimir princes attached importance to it at the end of the XIIth century and beginning of the XIIIth century. The process of unification of the country becomes visible from the end of the 13th century.
Later Dmitrov was attached to the Galician and Pereyaslavl principalities. In the beginning of the XIVth century Dmitrov was consolidated within the Moscow Principaltiy (following the death of the Prince of Pereyaslavl, Ivan Dmitriyevich in 1302). In the beginning of the 14th there are only two rival principalities, almost of equal strength vying for domination: Moscow and Tver and Dmitrov lay on the frontier between the two.
The city's walls have endured many assaults such as in 1237 when Bati Khan devasted the city, in 1293 by Duden, in 1317 by Kavdygaev, and in 1372 by Ol'gerd of Lithuania who was allied with Mikhail of Tver. The Tatar invaders Tokhtamysh and Yedigei came at the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries.
Dmitrii Ivanovich issued his testament in 1389 awarding the Dmitrov appenage to his fourth son, Peter Dmitriyevich (1389-1428). M. N. Tikhomirov calls Peter Dmitriyevich "The first trully seated prince of Dmitrov. Close ties were maintained with the Trinity-Segiyev Monastery.
In 1406, he was invited by the Pskovians and Novgorodians to battle the Germans and Lithuanians. In 1324 The Galician and Volynian territories were united for the last time under Boleslav Troidenovich, a Mazovtsk prince invited by the Galician boyars. The Lithuanian principality was particularly strengthened under Viteniya Gedimin (1316-1341). In 1408 he participated in the defense of Moscow against Yedigei. Peter Dmitriyevich granted the largest bequests to the Nikolo-Pesnoshskii Monastery. We shall return to it when we talk about Andrei Rublev.
The Cultural Life of the Dmitrov Udel in the Middle and Fourth Quarter of the XVth Century.
In 1447, the Serpukhovsk-Borovskyi prince Vasilii Yaroslavich received in exchange for lands which included Uglich, Gorodets, Kozel'sk and other holdings of his grand father Vladimir Andreevich, Dmitrov and "all of its volost'. A Synod compilation preserved in the State Historical Museum includes a manuscript of the XVth century containing the Life of Gregorii Omiritskyi. This manuscript allows us to discern the special interest Vasilii Yaroslavich had in this saint and sheds light on the circumstances of the making of a relic which undeniably was related to the history of Dmitrov -- a sculpted white stone cross of the Borisoglebsk monastery. The cross was discovered in 1840 under the sacristy of the chapel of the Borisoglebsk cathedral. An analysis of the cross's depictions lend it to the period of rule in Dmitrov of prince Vasilii Yaroslavich dated to 1447. It is linked to Vasilii the Dark's reemergence in Moscow on or about 17 February of 1447.
Historical Relics of the Era of Yuri Vasilyevich dating from 1455 to 1472.
The reversion of the Dmitrov udel to Vasili Vasilyevich signified an effort to concentrate in the hands of the Great Prince control over the important military and strategic economic lands. The role of Dmitrov in the previous feudal war, points to a heightened importance of this city amongst other cities of the Moscow principality. Under Yuri Vasilyevich, the road to and from Moscow to the northern flow of the Volga lay through Dmitrov by way of Yakhroma. From there ran the river route to the northern regions and so ran the river route to the lower reaches of the Volga. Dmitrov had large estates, trading posts and the largest monasteries of the Trinity and Kiril-Belozerskyi, whose land holdings were important. The well situated lands of the Dmitrov appenage on rivers was significant in trade and were grabbed up by other monasteries, in particular those in Moscow -- the Bogoyavlenskyi, Simonov, Chudov and so on.

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The Pyeshnoshskiy Nicholayevskiy Monastery

Twenty three versts from Dmitrov lower on the river Yakhroma on lands on which run the stream, Pyeshnosh, is the Pyeshnoshskiy Nicholaryesvskiy Monastery founded in 1361 by the follower of Sergei Radonezhskyi, the monk Mefodii, where he lived as a recluse. In the time of troubles, the monastery was pillaged by the Poles and only in 1706 was renovated by General Verevkin. The monastery has five churches and the remains of its founder rest there with his walking stick and chalist.
A bequest by Vasilii Vasilyevich of lands and village of Sinkovo to the Trinity Sergeiv Monastery is dated to 1432-1445. On the basis of this information contained in a land ledger, it can be concluded that the Saint Nicholas church appeared sometime after the transfer of the lands to the monastery, sometime around the middle of the XVth century. Its architecture is characteristic of the provincialization and transformation of Moscow architectural style, which was promoted by the Pskov masters of the 70s and 80s of the XVth century. Stylistically the church is newer and is characteristic of style of the beginning of the XVIth century. Compared to the principle edifice of the city of Dmitrov of the era of Yuri Ivanovich, the Uspesnskiy cathedral, the Saint Nicholas church has the same contrasts with it as do the Rizpolozhenskaya church of 1484-1485 and the Blagoveshchenskyi (Annunciation) cathedral of the same period to the Moscow Archangel Michael Cathedral of 1505-1508. The latter is not mentioned haphazardly--the stonemasons building the Dmitrov cathedral used it as a model. The Saint Nicholas church is thought to have been built in the twenties of the XVth century at a time when during the second half of the reign of Yuri Ivanovich, his relations with Vasilii III where rather complicated.
Of interest is the fact that the Velyaminov-Vorontsov family land holdings thanks to the ties with Peter Dmitriyevich stem from the beginning of the XVth century. The Velyaminov family where amongst the largest land holders, along with the Dmitrov princes and the Trinity Sergiev Monastery. The church in the village of Ol'yavidov, belonging to the Velyaminov family was called the Trinity with a chapel named after Sergei Radonezhskyi.

The Icon "Uspenie" and other icons in the Museum of Andrei Rublev

The cathedral icon of the Uspenkoye cathedral is on display in the Museum of Andrei Rublev in the Andronikov Monastery. The cathedral was rebuilt entirely during the reign of Yuri Ivanovich, in the first half of the 16th century. The icon is dated to the last quarter of the 15th century.

The Icon, life of "Ioan Bogoslov" from the Borisoglebsk Monastery.

Another icon preserved in the Museum of Andrei Rublev, is the Icon whose subject is the wanderings of Ioan the "Word of God," which is surrounded by forty four Kleima. "Kleima" - panels with individual pictures that show the saints life. This icon is said to have come out of the ancient wooden Ioanno Bgoslovskaya church of the Dmitrov Borisoglebsk Monastery.
It should be noted here that the history of icon painting of the twenties through the thirties of the 15th century was not reflected in the fragments of the cathedral church of the Pafnutiyevo- Borovskyi monastery of the 1570s. These were discovered durning restoration of the cathedral church in the XVIIth century. It would be interesting to find out where they are now. Ivan III is said to have visited the Nativity cathedral church in 1480 and was described in the chronicle as having been moved by the frescoes on its walls.
On Dmitrov's eastern side is the Borisoglebsk Monastery founded at the end of the XVth century. A documented year of 1472 is more precise. Some researchers have given the time reaching as far back as the XIIth century. That is considered highly improbable. The place is in ruins.

The Volokolamsk and Borisoglebsk Monasteries.

The year of 1447 is known as the year Vasilii Vasilyivich handed Dmitrov to Vasili Yaroslavich. The abbot Iosif of the famous Volokolamski Monastery, defending the official position of the church that monasteries are the main pillars of the state and as such must be assisted to survive, and Nil Sorski the head of ascetic monks, who left Kirillo-Beloserskii monastery, and went to Mount Athos where he learned about the mystic theory of :isikhiya" and became its fervent supporter and propagator. A new style of writing was soon introduced to Russia and abundantly used in their literature until the end of the 16th century.
The Icon of Nicholas Zaraiskyi, XVIth century is from the village Dmitrov. Nicholas the Miracle worker is the most popular saint in Russia. There is exist various types of depictions of him which are related to local legends. The image of Nicholas reflects the peoples' conception of the good and righteous man. The saint stands ready to comfort those in need and is refered to as "Giving Aid When Called Upon."

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Somewhat to the left near the village of Aksakovo on the river Ucha is the village of Fedoskino. The real boom in papier mache miniatures began at the end of the 18th century when a Russian merchant, P. I. Korobov, opened a workshop in Danilkovo, now Fedoskino, another village near Moscow. Three factors induced Korobov to start his new business: The cheap availability of gifted icon painters who were becoming under or unemployed; the new customs regulations abolishing the export tax on snuff-boxes; and their new-found popularity among Russians. After making a trip to Germany, from which he returned with a few models and some German specialists, Korobov started his small factory of suff-boxes, jewel-cases, trays, jewelry and tea boxes, decorative plates, Easter eggs and all sorts of objects made of papier mache and decorated by former icon painters. The factory was considerably enlarged by his son-in-law, P.V. Lukutin and his descendants, and at one time employed almost a hundred men, and had a special school to train new artists. Lukutin was a very capable man, and produced miniatures to satisfy almost any taste, from exotic Russian troikas, tea-drinking and village scenes for the foreign market, to patriotic themes and portraits of the Russian heroes who defended the country and conquered Napoleon. To please the taste of demanding aristocrats, who until then prefered imports, Lukutin offered miniatures with charming scenes from the national folklore and reproductions of paintings of well-known foreign and domestic artists. The demand was so great that at one time the factory was unable to keep up, though in 1804 over 13,000 boxes were put on the market and this figure was later more than doubled.

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Gorodets was known as Volzhskyi Gorodets in the Middle Ages. For photos taken during visits to the city please go to Gorodets photos. It was a frontier outpost in the XIIth century for the Suzdal principality against the Bulgars. In 1171 Great Prince Andrei Bogolyubskiy sent a military expedition headed by Prince Mstislav Andreevich and the voevoda of Andrei, Boris Zhidislavich to explore the Oka and Volga rivers. Following the sudden demise of Andrei Bogolyubskiy, (murdered by his boyars) his brother, prince Mikhail assumed the mantle of great prince and executed the murderer of his brother, the Kuchko. Prince Mikhail rode out to this region and arrived in Gorodets a sick man and died here in 1176. In 1186, the voevod of Great Prince Vsevolod III rode with the Gorodets citizens against the Bulgars, to the mouth of the Kama river, sacked many villages and returned to Gorodets with many captives.
Later, in 1216, Gorodets served as a refuge for prince Yuri Vsevolodovich after he had lost out to his brother Constantine, and was forced to give up to him the mantle of great prince and make do till Constantine's death, with the Gorodets udel. When prince Yuri finally became great prince, Gorodets served as an assembly point for warriors gathered to campaign against Great Bulgar. These troops under the command of his brother, Prince Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich Yur'skyi, ran down the river flow of the Volga beyond the mouth of the Kama, sacked the city of Oshel' and returned by river to Gorodets, and then rode to Vladimir. These were the first successful campaigns of princes of the North-east Rus' to gradually grab-up territory the entire course of the Volga, which unfortunately was stopped by a terrible storm approaching from the east. In 1238, Gorodets was one of fourteen cities of the area herein described which was completely devastated by the Tatar hordes of Batyi. On 14 November, 1263, in Gorodets, Great Prince Alexander Nevskyi died on the return trip from the Horde, having as the chronicle recounts worked hard for Novgorod and the entire Rus' land. After his death, Gorodets was an independent udel of his second son, Prince Andrei Alexandrovich, who came to be known as Andrei Gorodetskyi. In 1281 this prince of Gorodets, began a fight with his brother Dmitri Alexandrovich for the mantel of great prince, on the council of the Kostroma boyar, Semyon Toniglyevich, having gone over to the side of Prince Andrei from the moment of the death of Great Prince Vasilii Yaroslavich. The Kostroma udel of the latter was turned over to Andrei in 1276. A internecine war between the two brothers, brought calamity to this region, aided by the Horde Tatars and the Nogai Tatars, who took opposing sides. After the convulsions of the bloody subterfuge, prince Andrei Gorodetskyi gained the mantle and ended his days as great prince. Following his death, Gorodets fell under the domain of the Suzdal princes, namely first to prince Mikail Andreevich and then to the son of Mikhail, Vasilii, and then to the grandson, Constantine, prince of Suzdal.
On the death of Prince Constantine in 1354, a war erupted amongst his sons, and one of them, Dmitrii Constantinovich took Nizhni, Gorodets went to his brother, Prince Boris (son-in- law of Ol'gerd of Lithuania). Boris Constantinovich remain in Gorodets till the death of his brother Dmitrii, not attempting to claim the mantle in Nizhni. His attempt in any case failed and he even lost Gorodets and was captured by Prince Vasilii Dmitriyevich, and died in captivity in 1399. His cousins, the sons of the Nizhegorod Prince Dmitrii Cosntantinovich and Dmitrii Donskoi's brothers-in-law, Semyon and Vasilii, tried for a long time unsuccessfully to gain a votchina, even breaking treacherously away during Toktamysh's raid on Moscow. Despite all of this, Vasilii Dmitriyevich mended fences with his uncle (on his mother's side), prince Vasili, and gave him Gorodets where the latter died in 1403, the last of the Gorodets princes. During the course of the XVth and XVIth centuries, Gorodets is recalled only in the wills of the Moscow princes and Tsars. In 1608, Gorodets along with seven other Russian cities rebelled against the imposter of Tushin (false Dmitri). No ruins remain in the city other than an earthen rampart.

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While still on the Moscow canal after passing the Yakhromskoye reservoir, on the river by the same name is the village of Il'ynskoye with its high hill called the "The Billy Goat," where once there was an ancient Slav settlement. Not far is an even more ancient site of settlement of the Moscow region from the period of the VIIth century BC till the VIIth century AD, known as the D'yakov culture. In the village of Van'kovo, the painter V. M. Vasnetsov lived from 1848 to 1926. Apollinarii Mikhailovich Vasnetsov, (1856-1933), younger brother of the better known Vikto Vasnetsov. Apollinarii was the youngest of the six brothers Vasnetsov and according to some he was the most intelligent of all, which led a friend of the family to foresee that the young boy would become a Church prelate. He was wrong. Not a single child of father Vasnetsov, a village priest, followed his career. Failing to enter the Academy, Apollinarii shared the time of several years by working as a teacher, traveling and painting. Finally he settled in Moscow. He became interested in archeology and with this came the excitement for the old architectural monuments of the ancient Russian capital. From that moment he decided to revive in his pictures the old sights of Moscow and show how it looked in the 16th and 17th centuries. Particular attention was given to the Kremlin. Apollinarii studied thouroughly all available documents and descriptions, and took part in archeological excavations. Prominent historians confirmed the architectural exactitude of most of his paintings, in which he rebuilt the old streets with their log izbas, Moscow squares and magnificent Kremlin palaces and churches of the time of Ivan Kalita and Ivan the Terrible. Apollinarii worked hard and left a few hundred paintings and several hundred sketches and designs. Among his best depicting the Kremlin and vicinity are "Sacrum in Kitai-Gorod," "The Street in Kitai-Gorod," "Moscow Kremlin of the time of Ivan Kalita," "Moskvretsky Bridge and the Water Gate," and probably the most impressive "Dawn at Resurection Gate." For the last one he made several sketches, part of which was used as a back-drop for Mussorgsky"s prelude to his famous opera "Khovanshchina." "The lake," "Kama," "Taiga at Ural," "Native Country," and "Kasbek" are his best landscapes that preceeded his Moscow series.
Apollinarii was fascinated by the clouds, he liked to paint them and they are indeed impressive. He said that he could look at them for hours and "Admire the most complicated play of these enormous majestic masses that solemly fly through limitless blue space or bring disastrous hurricane devastation." In 1900 Apolinarii Vasnetsov became the head of the landscape faculty at the Moscow School of Painting, replacing Levitan who died the same year. Though without professional artistic schooling his talent was recognized and he was elected academician. After the revolution he preferred not to paint and instead reluctantly accepted to head a commission that studied ancient Moscow, the subject that he considered only second to painting.

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Photos of Kazan will be at Kazan. The key location at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers has been occupied for millennia. For centuries it was part of the dominion of the Volga Bolgars who controlled trade on the Volga. It became the site of the capital of the newly independent Tatar Khanate when the Khanate of the Golden Horde broke up after the devastation wrought by Tamerlane and then years of internal strife.
The Kazan Khanate was founded in 1438 by Ulu-Mohammed who was followed by Makhmutek (1445-1466). Political control was in the hands of the Tatar descendants of the Volga Bolgars. But the Khanate included also Mari, Chuvash, Udmurts and some Mordva and Bashkirs. Most of the population was agricultural, but the towns supported much local handicraft arts and the merchants used the location to profit from international trade between Central Asia and the Caucasus on one side and Europe on the other.
As with other Tatar principalities the ruler was the Khan, but he had to share power with his council of elders. The bulk of the population were peasants, either free or serf or slave. The Khanate continued the Tatar tradition of conducting raids on the various Russian towns. The army consisted of the Khan's personal force plus those of the many emirs and chieftains and service people who could be called up militia style for campaigns. At a maximum they could muster 60,000 warriors.
During the first half of the 15th century the Tatars took advantage of internal civil war in the Russian principalities to conduct offensive raids. They captured one Muscovite grand prince, Vasili II, and held him for ransom. By the second half of the century the Russians were becoming more united with Moscow as the center and they were able to reverse the process. At the same time there was rivalry between the Tatar Khanates at Kazan and Crimea. Ivan III (the Great) sponsored a Russian offensive in 1467-69 against Kazan and Viatka. The Muscovites replaced Khan Ali-khan with his brother, Mohammed Emin, one of Ivan's supporters. Anti- Muscovite Tatars attempted to overthrow the Muscovite domination several times unsuccessfully but Ivan III and Vasili III kept Mohammed on the throne. After Mohammed Emin died in 1518 the Muscovites brought in their tame Tatar Khan of Kasimov, Shah-Ali as the new ruler. He was overthrown in 1521 by Sahib-Girei, brother of the Crimean Khan. This brought Kazan and Crimea back into alliance. With Ottoman support they also drew in the other Tatar groups, most notably the Nogai and began a half century of nearly continuous raiding against Muscovy and-or Poland as circumstances seemed best. Ivan IV made war against Kazan a central part of his foreign policy during the first part of his reign. By 1546 the Russians gained control of the western side of the Volga. Political leadership within the Tatar Khanate was split between supporters of Crimea and subordination to the Ottomans as ultimate overlords and supporters of Muscovy as the lesser evil. Ivan IV's major campaign against Kazan in 1545 had the indirect effect of strengthening the base of the pro-Muscovite party. They managed to exile Khan Safa- Girei and bring in Ivan's protégée, Shah-Ali. However Safa-Girei went to Crimea and called upon his relatives to restore him, which they did. The next Muscovite campaign, in 1547-48 failed. Safa-Girei died in 1549 leaving his minor son, Utemish-Girei under control of the Crimean faction. Another Muscovite campaign in 1549-50 also failed. At that Ivan IV decided to mount an all-out campaign. For this he instituted major reforms in the Muscovite military system, including establishment of the streltzi (shooters) infantry units.
In 1551 he constructed a fortress right across the Volga at Sviazhsk for future use as a logistic staging base. That same year he put Shah-Ali back on the Kaganate throne. But Shah-Ali was unable to control the internal struggle against the Crimean faction. He fled in February 1552. At that point the Tatar emirs invited the Tsarevich of the Khanate of Astrakhan, Yadigar, to become ruler. That brought Ivan into concentrated action. He led the Muscovite army himself out of Moscow in mid-June. He reputedly was able to muster 150,000 men with 150 cannon. The Crimean Khan, Devlet-Gerei, attempted to sidetrack the expedition by launching another raid directly against Moscow. This forced Ivan to shift the line of march toward Kazan to the south via Kashira and Kolomna. He detached one Polk of 15,000 troops to act against the Crimeans. They met the Tatars, who may have numbered as many as 30,000 at Tula and defeated them. By this time the Crimeans were mostly interested in raiding and plunder and not in serious warfare, so withdrew. Meanwhile Ivan continued on to Kazan. He reached Sviazhsk by mid-August. The siege began on 30 August. All efforts by the Tatars to mount relief expeditions from outside the town failed. Ivan used cannon, foreign mining experts who placed explosives under the city walls, and even belfries (ancient siege towers). Several explosive mines brought down sections of the walls and also cut the city water supply. Ivan led one assault. The city was taken on 2 October.
With Muscovite conquest of Kazan (and subsequent taking of Astrakhan) the entire route to Asia, both via the Volga and Caspian and across the Urals and Siberia. Expansion rapidly followed. With this Tatar threat eliminated Ivan was able to turn his attention to the west, where he soon launched the disastrous for Moscow Livonian War. The threat from the Crimean Tatars continued. In an effort to counter it extensive fortifications were constructed all across the southern frontier. And a special 'shore duty' military service was organized to patrol the frontier and warn of Crimean raids.
The Bulgars where spared during the first Mongol raid, however when the descendants of Chingis'-Khan moved west their first victims were the Bulgars. From this time (1236) they ceased to exist as a people, and were absorbed by their vanquishers, who establish their support base for attacks on Rus' in the city of Kazan'. What remained of this once powerful and military and trade people was that Ivan III called himself the prince of the Bulgars. The ruins of the city of the Great Bulgars are seen in the village of Uspenskoye. The Englishman Anthony Jenkins travelled along the Volga from Nizni in May of 1558 and headed to Astrakhan. His first stop was at Vasil'gorod.
The discussion of the Khazar state invariably turns to the two cities of Sarkel and Itil. In the IXth century, Byzantine craftsmen built for them a fortress (Sarkel) on the Don, at the point, where it comes closest to the Volga. In the Xth century a similar request to have a fortress built on the middle course of the Volga, was made by the Bulgars to the caliph and Islam was introduced by the Khwarismites.
The association of the caliphate and the Bulgars was conducted thru an intermediary in Khwaraism, and the embassy of the caliph traveled to the Bulgars in a circuitous route to the east up to Bukhara and Khwarism and from there to the north-west to the shores of the Volga, despite the fact that it would have been much closer to travel thru the Caucasus. When discussing the trade routes it is mentioned that the Volga was not the sole trade route to the Bulgars as they conducted a lively caravan trade. From the shores of the Aral sea thru Khazrem (Khiva) stretched the steppe route on which trode the camels of the caravans.
After the annihalation of the Khazar kingdom by Svyatoslav in 969, at the mouth of the Volga there no longer was a sizeable trade city such had been Itil'. The fall of the Khazar kingdom brought about more benefits to the Volga Bulgars, but their rule was not to grow to the mouth of the Volga. In the XIIth century and in the beginning of the XIIIth century there is mentioned the city of Saksin, perhaps, at the place where stood Itil' (the question as to the exact location of Saksin is still argued), but its trade importance had wained and at the time of the Mongol invasion, Saksin was destroyed and was never to be rebuilt.

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Kostroma (population 280,000) is located 186 miles from Moscow on the left bank of the Volga River at the confluence of the Kostroma River. For photos taken during recent visits please go to Photos. It was first mentioned in the chronicles for the year 1213, but it may have been founded as early as 1152 by Yuri Dolgoruki. The first town was a fortified enclosure on the right bank. The town figured in the civil war between the sons of Vsevolod the Big Nest, Konstantin of Rostov and Yuri. It was sacked by the Mongols in 1238. After the town was rebuilt in 1246, the Grand Prince of Vladimir, Vasili, gave it to his youngest son, Vasili, younger brother of Alexander Nevski. In 1264 the Kostroma army defeated a Tatar force at Svyatoye Ozero. In 1271 Prince Vasili inherited the title of Grand Prince, but he continued to live in Kostroma until his death in 1276. In the 14th century the grand princes frequently hid out in the town. It was then joined to the growing grand principality of Moscow by Ivan I (Kalita). During this period a strong, oaken kremlin was constructed.
During the invasion of Tokhtamysh, the Tatar who replaced Mamai after the latter's defeat at Kulikovo in 1380, Dmitri Donskoi hid in Kostroma while assembling his army. In 1408 Grand Prince Vasili of Moscow also hid in the town from Khan Edigei's invasion. In 1433 Grand Prince Vasili Temny (the blind) hid there during the attack on Moscow by his uncle, Prince Yuri of Galich. In 1488 Vasili's army under command of Prince Striga-Obolenski defended successfully against Yuri's son, Dmitri Shemyaka.
During the Time of Troubles (1605-13), Kostroma was a center of the Russian resistance against the Poles and Cossacks. It was twice captured by Alexander Lisovski in 1608. In 1609 the troops of the second Dmitri the Pretender locked themselves in the Ipatiyevski Monastery for six months before being captured by a force of 10,000 besiegers. With the demise of the Gudonovs the monastery became the headquarters of their stauch enemies, the Romanov family. It was here that the young boyar, Mikhail Romanov, was hiding in 1613, when the All-Russia council (Zemski sobor) came to insist that he accept their election of him as the new tsar. He and his family continued to bestow rich gifts on the monastery as their family's special protectorate.
The town hero is Ivan Susanin, who saved Mikhail Romanov from a Polish detachment by leading them into a forest at the cost of his own life. The original monument was torn down by the Communists and replaced with a more revolutionary one in 1967.
In the 17th century Kostroma was the third largest town in Russia after Moscow and Yaroslavl. It continued to enjoy imperial patronage and was visited by Catherine the Great in 1767. Unfortunately most of the town, including the kremlin, burned down in a great fire of 1773. But this gave Catherine the Great a chance to exert her influencee on Kostroma's appearance. She decided to turn the city into a showpiece for her enlightened design principles. She sent many of her best designers from St. Petersburg, and within a few years Kostroma had been transformed and rebuilt according to then modern town planning methods with streets radiating from a single focal point near the river. Thus Kostroma is the only Russian city that today retains its original layout from this period. One will readily see the arcades of the central market that match so closely those also in Rostov and Novgorod. The city center remains as one of the finest examples of late 18th century architectural principles in Russia. Of particular interest are Susanin Square, the Ipatiyevski Monastery, and the outdoor museum, containing a number of fine examples of traditional wood-construction architecture. The great Uspenski Cathedral was rebuilt, only to be torn down by the Communists in the 1930's. Emperors Nicholas I, Alexander II and Nicholas II paid special visits to the city.
In the 1850's the town became the center of flax production for the making of sail cloth, of which a major purchaser was the British navy. It remains the center today and the two original mills are still standing. The original trade center arcades, built in the 17th century, is the oldest such center still standing in Russia.
The Ipatiyevski (St. Ipaty) Monastery is on the right bank of the Kostroma river near the Volga. It was founded by Grand Prince Vasili in 1275. There also is a legend that it was founded by a Tatar prince who became the founder of the Gudonov family. It was held by the family for generations and many members were buried in its crypt. Boris Gudonov built the Trinity Cathedral in 1586 and its frescoes were completed in 1595-6. The gold and carved wood iconostasis is particularly noteworthy. The monastery was fortified with stone walls during 1586-90. It was badly damaged in a gunpowder explosion in 1649 and restored in 1652 and again in 1835. The original bronze doors are noteworthy. Boris Gudonov's parents, Zakhary Chet, and Ivan Susanin are buried here. The cathedral belfry was built by Dmitri Gudonov in 1603-5 with 19 bells. Many other buildings remain including the Bishop's palace from 1588 and some of the monk's cells. The Green Tower in the gate of the western wall was built in memory of Mikhail Romanov. It houses the Church of the Archangel Michael. Several other new gates were added in the 18th and 19th centuries. Near the monastery, the Church of Ioanna Bogoslova (St. John the Divine) dates from 1681-7 with frescoes from 1735 and wooden iconostasis from 1770. The Church of Ioanna Zlatoust was built in 1791.
Next to the monastery is the Museum of Wooden Folk Architecture, the oldest such museum in Russia. Among the buildings are the Preobrazhenski Church (Transfiguration) of 1628 from Spas-Vezhi and the Cathedral of the Virgin of 1552 from Kholm and various peasant dwellings.
The Bogoyavlensky-Anastasinski Monastery (Epiphany) was built early in the 15th century. The Bogoyavlensky Cathedral was finished in 1559-65 and is the oldest remaining structure in the city. Ivan IV suspected the monks of siding with his cousin, Vladimir Staritski, and had them and townspeople killed. In 1608 the Polish troops of Alexander Lisovski besieged the place, which was a fortress as formidable as the town kremlin. Much of the monastery burned in a fire in 1847, after which it was given to nons and converted to a convent. Only one of the original six fortress towers remains as a belfry.
The Voskreseniya on the Debre Church (Resurrection) was built in 1652 and remains one of the finest examples of 17th century Russian architecture. The Church of Ilyinskaya na Gorodishche (St. Elijah in the city) dates from 1683. The Spasopreobrazhenskaya Church (Transfiguration) dates from 1685-8.
Among the most noteworthy private buildings are the mansion of General Borshchov and the fire tower.

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Photos will be at Nizhni. The fortress was founded in 1221 to advance the power of the Suzdal-Vladimir principality onto the Volga river commercial route. This was the easternmost point of the expanding Rus' as it butted up against the Mordva and after subduing them the Rus were themselves set upon by the Tatars. Archeologists have found evidence of pre-historic settlements as well. The early earthen and log kremlin was replaced several times. The present fortress dates from the 16th century. There are 11 towers. The tent-roofed Arkhangelskoye (Archangel Michael) Cathedral was built in 1631. Among Nizhni's most famous favorite sons is Kuzma Minin, who was a leader of the national army that freed Moscow from the Poles. There is an obelisk set up in 1828 to commemorate him. Outside the kremlin are some interesting early churches. The stone Uspenskaya (Assumption) Church dates from the 17th century and is considered one of the jewels of Russia and the only church of its kind. The baroque Stroganovskaya (Strogonov) Church is early 18th century. The Church of the Nativity was built by the extremely wealthy merchant, Gregory Stroganov There are two monasteries, The Blagoveshchenskaya (Annunciation) founded in the 13th century by Grand Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich to guard the river and approach to the kremlin, and the Pechorskaya (Cave) dating from the 14th century, but the buildinga only date from the 17th. In it is the Ascension Cathedral with 5 domes and the tent-roofed over the gate church of St Euphemius. The fair building, Yarmarka, is across the Oka, and near it is the white Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior, designed by the same architect who built St Isaac's in St Petersburg, Monferrand.

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Small village on outskirts of Yaroslavl. Most of the early Russian icons were painted by monks. It is surprising to see how little they hesitated to often paint Christ and some of their siants, as very healthy and natural people despite those allegedly strict canonic rules. The icons called "Spas Nerukotvornii," which could be translated as Saint Face or Holy Face or Holy Savior may serve as an example. They depict Christ's head in a circle with a thick cross as a background. Christ is shown as a young, strong and determined man, and it is not surprising that just this type of icon was chosen since medieval times for the emblem of the Russian army. It was in front of a Holy Face icon that Russian soldiers for centuries took the oath of allegiance. It was with this icon in mind that they attacked their enemies, or looked for supreme protectionand sign of victory. As was the case with all other major icons, the "Holy Face" had been copied thousands of times. Among the most outstanding is one painted in Novgorod around the middle of the 13th century and currently in the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow, delicately painted in yellow and ochre hues with fine gold running through the hair. An even better example from the same century is an icon that was discovered in 1966 by M. A. Reformatskoi in a dilapidated church of the village of Novoe, near Yaroslavl. For almost fifty years after the revolution this masterpiece served to block a broken window in a dilapidated village church. The unknown painter, most probably a monk from one of the monasteries in the Rostov-Suzdal area, used his blues, roses and dark yellows with great care to create an extraordinary portrait of the Savior.

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Photos will be at Plyos. The small town is 63 km southeast of Kostroma on the Volga. It was founded in 1409 by Great Prince Vasilii I Dimitriovich as a fortress to help protect the approaches to Kostroma from the Tatars. They built the usual earthen ramparts behind deepened ditches and topped with wooden stockade and towers. In 1428 the Tatars took Plyos and Kostroma as well. In 1459 Prince Semyon Nesvizhski repulsed another Tatar attack. In the 16th century the city served as a conscription point for the Muscovite army against the Kazan Tatars. The army assembled in 1506 at Plyos under command of Prince Patrikyev-Golitsin-Bulgakov, but the campaign was cancelled because Kazan sued for peace. In 1539 the Kazan Tatars attacked the frontier regions of Moscow and were about to attack Kostroma when the Russians came out of Plyos and stopped them. On the left bank of the Volga the Russians under command of Prince Feodor Mikhaiovich Mistislavski won a battle but suffered heavy losses. One fourth of the Russian commanders were killed. Princes Feodor Kurbski, Zasykin, Tulupov, and voveyod Vlasyev were killed. During the time of Troubles Lisovski rampaged through Plyos in 1609. In 1612 Prince Pozharski and Kuzman Minin learned of the enemy attack in Kostroma and the resulting rebellion by the citizens. They brought their relief army to the Volga here and the citizens of Plyos ferried them across the Volga. In 1778 Plyos was made into a provincial head town. The Uspenski (Assumption) Cathedral, built in the 17th century, remains inside the remanant of the medieval ramparts. It has a rectangular form with faceted apses and a double row of windows topped by five domes. The other churches are in poor condition. A memorial to Vasilii I, built in 1910, is also within the earthen rampart. Now the town is famous for its serene scenic beauty and its reputation as an artists haven. This is due largely to the renown of Isaak Levitan, the landscape painter who recorded local scenes. The town was also the home of the famous Russian basso, Chaliapin.

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Photos will be at Simbirsk. The fortress was built in 1648 to anchor the Muscovite Zasechnaya Cherta (frontier defense line) against the Tatars. The garrison held the place for a month against the rebel army led by Stenka Razin. In the next century the town remained loyal to Catherine II during the Pugachev rebellion. But after that its military importance ended. Several famous Russians lived here, among them the historian, Karamzin, and the writer, Goncharov. It was the home of Alexander Kerensky, but that is not mentioned. Rather the town was remaned for its most famous native son, Vladimir Ulyanov - V. Lenin. Nothing remains of the late medieval period but there are many monuments and memorials to Lenin and some also to Goncharov.

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The Siti river parallels the Volga a few miles to the northwest before the Volga turns east at Rybinsk. Somewhere west of the Rybinsk watershed on the river Siti was the site of the battle by the same name, in 1238, when the Tatars inflicted the final crushing defeat on the Russians. Khan Batiy leveled Vladimir on 7 February and traveled at a high rate taking on the way the cities of Suzdal, Yuriev-Pol'skiy and Pereyaslavl Zaleskiy. Negotiating the river Volga on the ice, somewhere near Kalyazin and not wasting any time taking Kashin, he turned to the river Siti, arriving there at the beginning of March, from the opposite side from which he was expected to come. The commander of the Russian advance guard, Dorozha, was surprised by the Tatar reconnaisance parties at the mouth of the river Siti, between the villages of Bozhenkoi and Mogilitsa, and related this to the great prince. On 4 March, the upheaval battle took place, which ended in a complete defeat for the Russian army, strewing the river banks with their bodies to the river Siti's mouth. A particularly large number of Russians died trying to cross the Mologa river beyond which a few remnants of the Russian army found refuge.
In the battle the great prince of Vladimir was killed, Yuri (Georgiy) Vsevolodovich along with his two sons, and his nephew, prince of Yaroslavl, Vsevolod Constantinovich. Yuri Vsevolodovich was the son of Vsevolod Yurievich "Bolshoye gniensdo," Great Prince of Vladimir in 1212-1216 and 2nd time 1218-1238. The prince of Rostov, Vasil'ko was taken prisoner. He was taken to the Shirinskiy forest (between Kashin and Kalyzin), where was situated the Tatar camp, and according to the words of the chronicler, was compelled to make amends and fight on their side. The prince refused and denounced the enemies for the miseries that had befallen his people, and begged God to help Christians and his sons, Boris and Gleb. The prince was killed and his body was left in the woods.

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Photos are at Tver.


Photos will be at Uglich. The town was founded in 1148, but there are indications the location was inhabited at least from the late 10th century. While never a major urban or commercial center, it was locally important in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the early 13th century it was part of the Rostov principality and later became independent. It was destroyed by the Tatars in 1237 and 1284. Ivan I bought it from the Tatars in 1375 and joined it to the Muscovite domains. It was the home base of Prince Dmitri Shemiyaka, cousin and rival of Vasilii II as grand prince of Moscow. Dmitri had Vasilii blinded and exiled to Uglich. With Tatar help Vasilii regained his throne.
Ivan IV considered it one of his favorite towns and presented it as appanage for his youngest son, Dmitri. After Ivan's death, Dmitri and his mother, Maria were banished to Uglich in 1584 on orders of his half-brother, Tsar Feodor. The young boy was found dead with his throat cut in the palace courtyard in 1591. Suspicion immediately fell on Feodor's brother-in-law and chief advisor, Boris Gudunov. This was adroitly fanned by Boris's enemies the Shuiski clan. But Boris' guilt has never been proven. Nevertheless it figured in Russian literature. Despite the popular unrest and condemnation of Boris for Dmitri's death, the populace or a large part of it were ready to accept the claims of a series of "false Dmitris" After Boris died Russia was swept up in the "Time of Troubles" during which the first of these characters actually claimed the throne and was crowned. Mussorgski presumed Boris' guilt as the basis of his opera, Boris Gudunov. Vasilii Shuiski had served on the commission that investigated Dmitri's death and had originally exonerated Boris, then he turned about and supported this ?false Dmitri', then he led the riots that deposed him and finally he managed to get himself proclaimed Tsar, only to be deposed himself shortly after.
During the "Time of Troubles" - Smutnoi vremini - Uglich was the scene of many battles between Poles and Russians. The Poles besieged the Alekseyevsky Monastery here in 1609 and burned it down killing all the populace who had sought refuge inside. Michael Romanov attempted to revive the town, but it has remained rather an economic backwater ever since.
Today medieval Uglich is especially impressive when seen from the Volga. On the spot where Dmitri was murdered the city in 1690 built the small but lovely Church of Prince Demetrius on the Blood, which appears on the horizon with its red walls and blue domes as one sails north on the Volga. A wooden chapel was erected on the spot soon after the death. It was replaced by a larger church in 1630 and this gave way to the stone edifice in 1690. Inside the frescos depict the events of Dmitri's death. The five-domed Transfiguration Cathedral is the largest structure on the kremlin grounds. Nothing remains of the medieval wooden kremlin walls. The palace built by Andri Bolshoi, Ivan III's brother replaced the kremlin in 1480. Today there is an interesting museum in the palace. Among the items is the bell from the Transfiguration Cathedral that rung the news of Dmitri's death. Boris Gudunov conducted an investigation of the incident and exiled the bell to Siberia after cutting out its tongue (clapper), whereupon it was duly registered as an inannament exile from Uglich. In 1892, after strenuous campaigning, the people of Uglich managed to get their bell back from Tobolsk.
The Monastery of the Resurrection (Voskresenski) (1674-77) and Church of the Nativity of St. John dating from 1689 are near the Volga. The largest building in the monastery is the Voskresenski Cathedral and there are also other churches and a bell tower and refectory. Much older is the Alekseyevski Monastery founded by Metropolitan Aleksei at the behest of Dmitri Donskoi in 1371 as a fortification to protect the city. It was rebuilt, after the fire, and in 1628 the Uspenskaya Divnaya (Wonderful Assumption) Church with its 3 octagonal spires and onion domes was added. It is a fine example of 16th century Russian architecture.
The Monastery of the Epiphany (Bogoyavlensky) was moved from the kremlin in 1661 to its location on the road to Rostov Veliki. It has three churches, Smolenskaya (1700), Fyodorovskaya (1818) and the huge Bogoyavlensky Cathedral (1853).

Tserkov' Dimitriya, chto na krovi at Uglich.

The period from the death of Ivan the Terrible in 1584 to the election of Mikhail Romanov to the tsardom in 1613 is known as the "Troubled Times" (Smutnoe Vremia) or simply the "Upheaval" (Smuta). Actually, the date of Tsar Fedor's death in 1598 is more appropriate to mark the starting point of the deep crisis and dynastic changes that Russia underwent, because with his death came an end to the first Russian dynasty, the Riurikids. Fedor I was Ivan's son by his first wife, Anastasia Romanovna. Fedor I succeeded his father in 1584 and nominally ruled the country until he died in 1598. The weak-minded, very pious and childless Fedor was not interested in "The secular nuisance," as he called governing the country, and preferred to spend most of his time praying, visiting monasteries and ringing church bells. The real power behind him was his brother-in law, boyar Boris Godunov who was elected Russian Tsar after his sister Irene renounced the throne and entered a monastery. Palace intrigue resumed, and Boris Godunov managed in the end to eliminate all his opponents and govern the country in the name of his brother-in-law Tsar Fedor. Fedor I was the last direct royal member of the Rurik family. In 1591 his half-brother, the ten-year old Tsarevich Dimitrii, son of Ivan the Terrible by his seventh wife, Maria Nagoi, was found dead in the garden in front of the small house in Uglich, where he was confined with his mother. He died under mysterious circumstances.
The mystery of his death was never explained and the rumors that Boris' agents liquidated him were readily accepted by the people throughout Russia, creating a favourable ground for the legend which made out of Godunov a real villain. Godunov, a capable statesman with good intentions, was very similar to the Godunov represented by both Pushkin and Mussorgsky.
People have believed that Boris was involved in Dimitri's death probably because, in 1598, a few months after the death of Tsar Fedor, he was elected to the throne by the "Zemskii Sobor," an assembly representing most social groups.
Close to the house at the northern corner of the fortress overlooking the curving river Volga, a church was built by Tsar Mikhail on the site where the bloodied body of the tsarevich Dimitri was found.

The Church of the Assumption at Uglich.

While speaking of tent shaped churches it would be unfair not to mention the Church of the Assumption of the former Alekseyevskii Monastery at Uglich. This very fine and original specimen of ancient Russian architecture was built of bricks, not wood, in 1628 or perhaps before by unknown masters. Nor is there any information concerning who commissioned the Church. It is hard to believe that most of the old-monasteries, former centers of literacy and education, did not preserve data about the talented men who erected their best monuments or about those who offered money for their construction. Unfortunately, during and after the revolution most of the monks were chased out of the monasteries and their books destroyed or burned. One should go to Uglich or to any other monastery that has not been visited by tourists or foreigners to see how dilapidated and miserable they can become.
The same happened to the Alekseyevskii Monastery and its "Marvelous" (Divnaya) Church of the Assumption, an epithet that the simple people gave to their church and which became a part of its official name. The rectangular church with decorative kokoshniki was built on a high basement. Instead of ending in a normal roof the vertical line continues. Two smaller octagons, one on each side, and a larger one in the middle, each carry the eight slopes of a tall pyramid which end in a drum crowned with a cupola and a cross. On the east side of the church there are three apses, decorated with a band of ornamental blind arcades; the second jamb of each ends in a pendant. On the west is the refectory (trapeznaya) with its original single pier in the middle, carrying for cross vaults that span the entire room. After the revolution this unique church was ransacked and left to decay, sharing the destiny of thousands of others. Only in the late fifties did Soviet authorities decide to do something to save it from collapsing.

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Yaroslavl (population 112,000 in 1914 and 633,000 in 1990) is located on both sides of the Volga River at the confluence of the Kotorosl River. For photos taken during recent visits please go to Photos. It is the oldest known Russian town on the Volga, mentioned in the chronicles first in 1071 but said to have been founded by the future grand prince of Kiev, Yaroslav the Wise, in 1010 while he was still prince of Rostov, at the "Bear's Corner" where he killed a bear with a poleaxe. In 1238 the town was sacked by the Mongols. In 1463 the principality was united with Moscow. During the reign of Ivan IV the town developed as a trading center on the route between Moscow and Archangel on the route used by English travelers from the White Sea. When an English expedition, undertaken in the middle of the 16th century, found how to reach Russia around Scandinavia and through the White Sea, and then down the rivers Dvina and Volga to Asia, the importance of Yaroslavl as a commercial transit center grew rapidly. It was at this time that two important Tatar khanates, Kazan and Astrakhan, were annexed to Russia, linking her directly to Persia and the other Asian states. By 1631 Yaroslavl already had 18 foreign trading posts and its citizens quickly earned a reputation as very capable merchants, and were sometimes sarcastically called "Cuckoo's children." Over the next several centuries the city prospered as a trading port on the Volga and a center of textile manufacture, becoming by the 17th century the second largest city in Russia behind Moscow. They prospered, and to show their wealth they built churches, as did boyars and church prelates in other parts of the country. Many of Yaroslav's citizens were of Novgorodian origin, but were moved there forcefully by Ivan the Terrible; their influence on the arts should not be neglected. Having enough money, quickly earned, they were able to afford the best builders and painters. Unable to ignore completely Moscow's directives and taste, they showed their independence by erecting larger and more richly decorated churches. In the monumental forms of ancient churches, crowned with five (scaly) cupolas, which they adapted for their churches, were decorated with extensive brickwork and varicolored tiles, added galeries and porches and magnificent portals. There were several details that made them original and different from those built in Moscow. Fortunately, the great majority of these remain today, making the city one of the most beautiful destinations in Russia.
The capital was moved here from Moscow during the Time of Troubles (1605-12) and the town was attacked by the Poles and Cossacks. The town lost importance with the opening of St. Petersburg and the Russian trading cities on the Baltic, but with the building of the Moscow - Volga Canal in 1937 it regained significance. It is also a major industrial city.
The medieval kremlin stood in the land between the Kotorosl and Volga Rivers. This area contains many of the oldest remaining buildings including the former Metropolitan's Palace (1690) and the Church of Elijah the Prophet. The Palace now houses the Museum of Russian Ancient and Applied Art. The church contains frescoes by Yuri Nikitin and Sila Savin, artists from Kostroma. The Znamenskaya and Uglichshaya lookout towers date from 1658 and 1635 respectively. Many old buildings remain because the city was not attacked during World War II. The churches are noted for the grand scale of their frescos and for the best woodcarvings in Russia.
The Spaso-Preobrazhensky (Transfiguration of our Savior) Monastery houses the main museum. It was founded in the 12th century and the existing walls and towers date from the 16th century. This was an important fortification in which Ivan IV took refuge from the Tatar Kahn Devlet Ghirai in 1571. The wall is 9 - 10 ft thick and 895 yards in circumference. the holy Gates entrance was completed in 1516. The frescos in the entrance archway illustrate St. John's apocalyptic vision and were painted in 1664. The Transfiguration Cathedral also dates from 1516, but the frescos date from 1782. The monastery is also famous for the discovery there of the manuscript of the "Lay of Igor's Host" in 1795, which became a sensation in European literary circles. Count Musin-Pushkin chanced upon it in a pile of mildewed books and parchments. The Church of Yaroslavl Miracle Workers dates from 1831 and the Krestovaya Refectory Church from the 16th century. The Bell tower of Our Lady of Pechorsk, built in the 16th century, since the 17th century has housed a clock moved from the Spassky tower of the Kremlin in 1624 when the new clock was installed there by Galloway.
In the town are many interesting churches including The Church of Elijah The Prophet, built in 1647 with a 36 meter bell tower. Across the Kotorosl, the summer Church of Ioann Zlatoust was built in 1649 and has frescos and iconostasis dating from 1732. The winter Church of Vladimirskaya next door dates from 1669. Between is a 37 meter high bell tower called the Candle of Yaroslavl. The Churches of Fydor and Nikoly Penskovo are another pair of summer and winter churches with bell tower built in 1691. The Church of Ioanna Predtechi-v- Tolchekovye (St John the Precursor in Tolchkovo) was built in 1671-87, with a 45 meter bell tower dating from 1700. From a distance it appears to have three domes, but it actually has 15 domes and the bricks are carved to imitate wood. Its frescos dating from 1694-5 are among the finest in Russia. The entire surface of the church is decorated with frescoes, brick, terra cotta, and glazed tiles. There are ten churches in Yaroslavl dedicated to St. Nicholas (the patron of commerce). One of them is the Church of Nikola na Melenkakh (St Nicholas by the little watermills) dating from 1672. One of its frescoes depicts the invasion of Tamerlane. The blue and white Church of Saints Peter and Paul, dating from 1736, has a 57 meter bell tower. It was built in honor of Peter the Great and resembles the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The summer Church of St. Nicholas the Wet dates from 1665-72 with frescoes completed in 1673. Nearby is the winter Church of Tikhvinskaya (Our Lady of Tikhvin) (1686). These are especially beautiful with rich, brightly colored ceramic work. The Church of Dmitri Solunski dates from 1671 with frescoes painted in 1686. The Bogoyavleniye Church (Epiphany) dates from 1684-93 including its frescoes and wooden iconostasis. The monumental Church of St. Michael the Archangel and its bell tower date from 1657-80 with frescoes from 1731. It stands on the Kotorosl embankment on the site of a former palace at the spot marking the boundary between the kremlin and market place. The Spasa-na-Gorodu (Our Savior on the Town) Church, located on the old market place, dates from 1672 and has frescoes depicting battles. The Nikolai Rublenova Church dates from 1695. The Ilinnsko-Tikhonovskaya Church dates from 1825-31 and is located on the site of the very first church erected by Yaroslav the Wise. The Nikoly Nadeina Church was the first parish church of Yaroslavl, dating from 1622. Its frescoes completed in 1642 are among the oldest in Russia. The Church of Rozhdestva Khristova (Nativity) dates from 1644 with frescoes from 1683. The Blagovesheniye (Annunciation) Church was built in 1688-1702). The Vladimirskaya Church dates from 1670-78. The Fyodorovskaya Church was constructed in 1687 with frescoes from 1715 depicting every day life and battles of the reign if Peter I. The Kazan convent Cathedral dates from 1845.
Near Yaroslavl, on the left bank of the Volga, is the Tolgski Monastery, founded by Bishop Trifon of Rostov in 1314. It contains the Vvedeniye Bogoroditsy Cathedral (1681-83) and the winter Vozdvizhenskaya (Presentation of the Virgin) Church (17th cent), the summer Spasskaya Church, and Nikolskaya Gate Church (1672).
On the road from Rostov to Yaroslavl is the estate of Nikolai Nekrasov (1821-77) at Karabikha. The estate previously belonged to the Golytsin family.

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