Location: Tver Oblast   Map


I was killed near Rzhev
In a nameless bog,
In fifth company,
On the Left flank,
In a cruel air raid

I didn’t hear explosions
And did not see the flash
Down to an abyss from a cliff
No start, no end

And in this whole world
To the end of its days -
Neither patches, nor badges
From my tunic you’ll find



Rzhev is the second largest city in the Tver region and the first city along the Volga, picturesquely located on its high banks. Its ancient history was erased by the Great Patriotic War: the Battle of Rzhev, which lasted more than a year, became one of the most terrible episodes of this war and left numerous traces in the surrounding area. For a long time, the memory of that battle was not properly immortalized, until in 2020 a large memorial to the Soviet Soldier was opened near Rzhev, which quickly became popular, and at the same time aroused interest in the city itself.



The city is divided by the Volga into two approximately equal parts. The right bank was called the Prince-Dmitrovskaya side, and the left bank was called the Prince-Fedorovskaya side. These names come from the Middle Ages, when different princes owned different banks of the Volga. Later, the parties became divided according to religious principles: the Old Believers lived on the right bank (Rzhev was their important center), the Nikonians lived on the left bank, and relations between them were quite hostile. Now the parties are called Red Army and Soviet, respectively, and there have been no special religious preferences or hostility between them for a long time. The city center and most of the war memorials are located on the Soviet side, but more pre-revolutionary buildings have survived on Krasnoarmeyskaya.

Tourism Center (information center), Krasnoarmeyskaya embankment. 28. Sun–Thu 10:00–18:00, Fri–Sat 10:00–20:00. Information, souvenirs, cafe.



For a county town, old Rzhev was quite large and reached the 20 thousand population mark even before the revolution. A few historical buildings managed to survive the war, but basically the city is built up with post-war Stalinist buildings, like two peas in a pod like those in Velikiye Luki or Smolensk, only somewhat smaller in scale. The architecture of Rzhev is unlikely to make a strong impression on you; what is more interesting here is the military history and the monuments associated with it.

Soviet side
1  Cathedral Mountain (Mound of Glory). The high-rise dominant of the city on the left bank of the Volga - it was here that the Kremlin was located, from which the city began to be built. The wooden fortress was finally destroyed at the end of the 17th century, and in its place in 1754 the Assumption Cathedral with a 76-meter bell tower was erected: after it the mountain was named Cathedral. The cathedral, of course, did not survive the Great Patriotic War, and now only the worship cross reminds of its existence. After the war, Cathedral Hill was completely transformed: a large-scale 25-meter granite obelisk was installed here in honor of the liberators of the city from the fascist invaders. The obelisk is decorated with bas-reliefs, and at its base there are mass graves and the Eternal Flame burns. Now Cathedral Mountain is not only a military memorial, but also the main observation deck of Rzhev. It offers picturesque views of the Volga and the Krasnoarmeyskaya part of the city, and if you look to the northeast, you can see a MiG-17 aircraft on a pedestal, installed in honor of Soviet pilots.
2  State Bank building (Ryabushinsky House), Pushkinskaya embankment. 17. The calling card of old Rzhev is a building with a spire and a star, from a distance reminiscent of Stalinist architecture, but up close revealing the features of Art Nouveau: it was built at the beginning of the 20th century for the Ryabushinsky banking house. Famous industrialists and financiers owned a linen manufactory in Rzhev and opened one of the first branches of their famous bank here. If the double-headed eagle on the tower was replaced by a five-pointed star in Soviet times, the purpose of the building remained the same - now it houses the settlement center of the Bank of Russia. You won’t be able to see this building, which miraculously survived the war, from the inside, but you can admire the views of it from the opposite bank of the Volga.
3  Sovetskaya Square. The main square of Rzhev, where all city events take place. In addition to the large-scale monument to Lenin and the standard “City of Military Glory” stele, here you can see the pre-revolutionary house of the Obraztsov merchants with characteristic half-columns and carved cornices. Now this building is a police station, and before the revolution the Rzhev Theater was located here.
4  Church of Ignatius Brianchaninov (Optina Church), st. Crane builders (not far from the MiG-17 aircraft). A beautiful wooden church with a refectory and a tented bell tower was erected in 2017 in honor of the Vologda theologian Ignatius Brianchaninov. Nearby stands the log Varvara Church (2004), similar in style, in memory of the destroyed pre-revolutionary Church of the Great Martyr Varvara at the former All Saints Cemetery. Against the background of the neighboring 26-meter-high Church of Ignatius, the Varvara Church seems small and more like a chapel.
5  Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, st. Lenina, 2A. ☎ +7 (48232) 2-06-51. A modern church in the Russian style with a hipped belfry stands on the high bank of the Volga right after the New Bridge. The temple partially covers the nondescript building of the Soviet Rzhev Hotel and fits well into the urban landscape.
6  Revolution Square. The fork in the roads to Moscow, Tver and Seliger is marked by one of the main squares of the city with a large square, a fountain and a monument to revolutionaries - delegates to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets from Rzhev, which is popularly called “Three Heads”. Across the road from the monument are the four-story “Kalinin Houses,” built before the war and restored from ruins after it.
7  Memorial complex “Park of Peace and Reconciliation” (Military Cemetery), Ostashkovskoye Highway. A large memorial complex at the exit from Rzhev towards Seliger was opened in September 2002. It consists of three parts: a cemetery for Soviet soldiers, a German military cemetery and a center for patriotic education. Cemeteries are annually replenished with new burials of the remains of soldiers and officers found by search teams in the vicinity of Rzhev, and new monuments appear.
In the center of the Soviet burial place is the chapel of Alexander Nevsky; it stands against the backdrop of a battlemented wall, reminiscent in shape of the Moscow Kremlin - as a symbol of the defense of Moscow during the Battle of Rzhev. There are separate memorials dedicated to Kazakh soldiers and prisoners of Jewish ghettos. In a German cemetery you can see a copy of Käthe Kollwitz’s sculpture “Grieving Parents” - the artist’s grandson died near Rzhev. Official delegations from Germany and single German tourists often come here. The center for patriotic education contains personal belongings of soldiers, samples of weapons and ammunition found during excavations - admission is free. From the main station you can take bus number 11, which passes through the central streets of the city.


Red Army side

8  ☆ Okovetsky Cathedral, st. Marata, 5. ☎ +7 (915) 731-97-56. 7:30–18:30. One of the best monuments of classicism not only in Rzhev, but in the entire Tver region; The western portico with eight columns especially stands out. The majestic temple was erected in 1818-1831. in honor of a local shrine - an icon from the village of Okovtsy - on the site of an old wooden church. Although the interior of the cathedral was lost during Soviet times, the external appearance has been well preserved, and restoration has been carried out in recent years. Together with the high three-tier bell tower, the temple forms the silhouette of the right bank of Rzhev from the observation deck of Cathedral Mountain.
9  Pokrovskaya Old Believer Church , st. Kalinina, 62. ☎ +7 (48232) 2-35-24. A stronghold of the Old Believer movement in Rzhev, which historically was very strong in these parts. The church in the eclectic style was built in 1908-1910. on the site of the old prayer house. It is interesting that this is the only temple in the city that was not closed during Soviet times: here, for example, the last residents of Rzhev took refuge during the liberation by the Soviet army. In addition to the preserved carved pre-revolutionary iconostasis, in the temple you can see exhibitions dedicated to Old Believer culture.
10  Building of the Diocesan School for Women (Smolensk Church), Bolshaya Spasskaya Street. 33/57. Built in the classicist style in 1865, the building is now occupied by the administration of the Rzhev diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. Attached to the side of the school is the house Smolensk Church, which was used for a long time as a civil building, but is now being restored as a temple.
11  Commune Square. A small triangular square near the New Bridge over the Volga was previously called Bolshaya Spasskaya - now this name has been transferred to the main street of the Krasnoarmeyskaya Side, which starts right from this square. In the center there is a monument to the hero of the War of 1812, Major General A.N., who was born in Rzhevsky district. Seslavin. The monument is modern, erected in 2012, but the houses to the right of it were built before the revolution: their updated facades, together with the bust, form an interesting architectural ensemble.
12  Partizanskaya street. The only street in Rzhev where fragments of pre-revolutionary buildings have been preserved, although not in the best condition. Here, on the section from Bolshaya Spasskaya Street to the Toropetsky Tract, you can see the city mansions of old Rzhev: from the almost ruined estate of the merchant Nemilov (house 30) to the well-preserved house 4, which belonged to the merchant Bersenev. In addition to the crumbling stone buildings, there is also a strong wooden hut from 1927 with a mezzanine (house 7), typical of pre-war Rzhev.
13  Ascension Church , Toropetsky tract, 19A. ☎ +7 (48232) 2-19-51. 8:00–17:00. Built in 1856 in the Russian-Byzantine style at the city cemetery. After the war, the church was in a dilapidated state for a long time, but in 1985 the temple was restored. Nearby, on the high bank of the Volga, there is a chapel of a similar style. In addition, there are good views of the river from here.


Things to do


1  Museum of Local Lore, Krasnoarmeyskaya st. 24a and 26. ☎ +7 (48232) 2-04-59. Wed–Sat 11:00–18:00, Sun 11:00–17:00, closed Mon-Tue. 100₽. Located in two small buildings across the street. The museum building on the embankment is an 18th-century mansion, one of the oldest surviving buildings in Rzhev. Here you can see antiques from ancient times to the beginning of the 20th century, but the collection was badly damaged during the war. In the house opposite is the military-historical part of the museum, dedicated to the events of the Great Patriotic War; the diorama “Battle of Rzhev” occupies a central place here.
2  Rzhev Exhibition Hall  , st. Karl Marx, 53/4. ☎ +7 (48232) 2-14-33. Tue–Sun 10:00–17:00, closed Mon. from 50₽. The upper two floors of the late 19th-century estate building display contemporary painting, sculpture and graphics; the collection is replenished annually. Various thematic exhibitions, creative evenings and master classes are held.



3  Gracinsky Park. A small park on the site of the pre-revolutionary Nikolsky Garden, next to Cathedral Hill, is named in honor of military commissar V.V. Gratsinsky, who died in the struggle for socialism. The black marble obelisk is one of the earliest Soviet monuments, opened back in 1918. It shows traces of bullets and shells from the Great Patriotic War. In the southern part of the park there is an alley of heroes of the Soviet Union, participants in the Battle of Rzhev and a ZiS-2 cannon on a pedestal.
4  Park of the Underground People. Located on the Krasnoarmeyskaya embankment near the Old Bridge, it offers good views of the Ryabushinsky Bank building on the opposite bank. In addition to modern amenities, there is a pre-revolutionary mansion from the mid-19th century - the Filatov House. Nearby is the square of internationalist soldiers with a monument to the founder of the Airborne Forces V.F. Margelov and a bunch of relatively modern military equipment. There is a small beach near the park on the banks of the Volga, but the river here is shallow and the bottom can be dangerous.
5  City garden. A park with centuries-old trees, benches and Soviet sculptures next to the Intercession Church. Now it looks abandoned: unkempt territory and a lot of garbage.
6  Park “Health”. Stretched along Mira Street, not far from the Baltic Station. Here you can see a monument to the railway workers who participated in the war: the SU 208-64 steam locomotive with concrete wings at the back. Nearby are the St. Nicholas Chapel and the monument to home front workers. During the improvement process, a skate park and modern walking areas were created. Not far from the park there is Peace Square with an important roundabout on the way from Moscow to Seliger - a T-34 memorial tank is installed in the center of the ring.



7  Entertainment center “October”  , Sovetskaya sq. 14. ☎ +7 (48232) 69-1-69. Mon–Thu 12:00–24:00, Fri–Sun 9:00–24:00, also on holidays. A three-hall cinema with modern equipment, a bowling center, a cafe with a bar.


How to get there

By train
Rzhev is located at the intersection of two railway lines. One of them connects Moscow with Velikiye Luki and further with Riga, although there is currently no passenger connection with Latvia. The other departs from the Moscow-Petersburg main line in Likhoslavl and through Torzhok and Rzhev goes to Vyazma and further to Bryansk. None of the lines are electrified; On the Moscow side, electrification ends at Shakhovskaya.

Twice a day, Lastochka runs to Rzhev from Rizhsky Station in Moscow (the journey takes 4.5 hours). This is a commuter express, so tickets are sold without seats and at suburban ticket offices. Along the way, it stops at major stations, including Istra, Volokolamsk and Zubtsov.

Long-distance trains: Moscow - Pskov/Velikie Luki and St. Petersburg - Smolensk pass through Rzhev, both not every day. The schedule to St. Petersburg is convenient (exactly one night on the way), but the Moscow train passes Rzhev in the middle of the night.

Suburban trains: the most popular route for travel is 2 times a day to Torzhok (2.5 hours) via Staritsa (1 hour 10 minutes, but then another 10 km from the station to the city). In the eastern and western directions, trains reach only Rusanovo and Shakhovskaya, and the train to Vyazma (3 hours) runs only twice a week.

1  Rzhev-Baltiysky (Rzhev II) , Privokzalnaya st. 12 (southern outskirts of the city). The main station of the city where all trains stop. The post-war building was built in 1952 on the site of a wooden station destroyed by bombing in 1902. Although the original post-war project was even grander, even what was eventually built became one of the best examples of Stalinist architecture in the city: for example, the interiors are very reminiscent of early Moscow metro stations. Marble, stucco, hanging chandeliers, reproductions of famous paintings are used for decoration, and large wooden sofas (a copy of the sofas of 1952) are installed in the waiting room. There is also a small modern exhibition dedicated to the history and sights of Rzhev.
2  Rzhev-Belorussky (Rzhev I) , Leningradskoye Shosse, 1 (northern outskirts of the city). A secondary station where the commuter train to Torzhok and the long-distance train to St. Petersburg stop. Historically, this was the first station in the city; before the revolution it was called Aleksandrovsky. The beautiful wooden building was destroyed during the war, and a new stone building was built according to a standard design. Now trains rarely run here, there are practically no people.
3  Platform “Rzhev Memorial”. Moscow "Swallows" and commuter trains to Rusanovo stop. Although the platform is located outside the city, there is a comfortable waiting room with a cafe and toilet. The memorial is about 2 km away - a landscaped walking path with benches and a bicycle path is being built. The distance to the Stalin Headquarters Museum is the same, but it is located on the opposite side from the memorial. You can get there and there by passing buses.

By car
The M9 Moscow-Riga highway runs 1 km south of the city; it is 225 km from Moscow. To the east, the nearest town in the vicinity of the highway is Zubtsov (22 km), to the west is Nelidovo (110 km).

Regional highway 28K-0576 (A112) leads to Staritsa (50 km) and Tver (125 km). Another route leads to Ostashkov (130 km).

By bus
Rzhev has regular connections with Tver, on average every half hour. Buses go through Staritsa, many of them then go to the far western regions of the Tver region (most often Zubtsov or Nelidovo, there are flights to Toropets). Travel time from Tver is a little over 2 hours.

From Moscow there are about 10 flights per day from the Khovrino metro station; the journey takes 3-4 hours. Buses sometimes stop in Volokolamsk, and several flights a day continue on to Ostashkov. Buses traveling along the M9 usually do not enter the city.

Traditionally for the Tver region, all buses are divided into official and “Autoexpress”. As of 2021, flights to Tver and neighboring regional centers are divided approximately equally, and only Autoexpress goes to Moscow. Unlike some other cities, the stops of these two organizations are located nearby, which, on the one hand, is convenient, but on the other hand, you can still confuse the buses and take the wrong one with the risk of being dropped off in an open field in the middle of the route (according to reviews, carriers they treat such “confused” people even worse than free riders) - be careful.

4  Bus station, Privokzalnaya st., 14 (next to Rzhev-Baltiysky station). ☎ +7 (48232) 2-86-15 (official bus station), +7 (952) 090-03-92 (auto express). There is a buffet and toilet. The Autoexpress stop and ticket office are located on the other side of the square. Please note that buses from the Rzhev Memorial terminal, as well as some other passing ones, usually do not call at the bus station.
5  Stop “New Market” (+7 (904) 024-03-40 (autoexpress)). Most buses stop. The coordinates of the Autoexpress stop where there is a ticket office (in the building opposite) are indicated. Official buses stop at the usual city stop directly next to the market.


Transport around the city

Modern blue “Vector Next” buses of the single carrier “Verkhnevolzhye Transport” ply around the city and suburbs with air conditioning, voice notification and information panels showing the route and the nearest stops. Buses run from 5:30 to 23:30 on more than two dozen routes, the interval in the city center is 5-8 minutes, you can track the movement in the Volga transport application.

City fare (2021): 26₽ in cash or 22₽ with a contactless bank card (transfer to another bus using the card will cost 13₽). In the suburbs, each kilometer of travel costs 2 rubles 59 kopecks. Most routes leave the city, so you need to touch your bank card to the validator both at the entrance and at the exit - otherwise the maximum fare for this route will be deducted.



There are no large shopping centers in the city, but small provincial stores and representatives of federal economy-class grocery chains are scattered throughout Rzhev.

As for souvenirs, you can buy Rzhev honey gingerbread, which is sold in a beautiful souvenir package at the Tourist Center, as well as magnets, T-shirts, and military-themed figurines, the largest selection of which is in the tents in the parking lot at the Rzhev Memorial.

1  Central market, Trudovaya st. 1. ☎ +7 (48232) 2-38-66. 8:00–17:00. An unusual pyramid-shaped building was built in the late 1980s as the main food and clothing market of the city, but it is not located in the center, but next to Revolution Square. Currently open mainly on weekends: here you can buy fresh meat, dairy and other products.



Federal chain establishments are not very common in the city due to the lack of normal shopping centers. You can eat in inexpensive cafes, of which there are quite a few on Bolshaya Spasskaya, Lenin and other central streets. A good option might be a cafe in the Tourism Center. Shawarma, which is found here both in cafes and in street spots, is a popular fast food option.

1  Cafe “Vasilki”, st. Maxim Gorky, 81/60. ☎ +7 (952) 087-16-61. 9:00–20:00. Hot from 70₽. Cafe at the intersection of Bolshaya Spasskaya and Gorky streets. Large assortment: soups, meat, fish, side dishes, salads, pizza, sweets, coffee, pancakes, shawarma. There is a separate menu for breakfast. Popular with locals, so may not be available at peak times.
2  Cafe “Tablespoon”  , Leningradskoye Shosse, 5B. ☎ +7 (904) 356-01-68. 8:00–21:00. lunch 200-300₽. The dining room is not far from Revolution Square, conveniently located on the way to Seliger.

Average cost
3  Restaurant “Bereg”  , Krasnoarmeyskaya embankment. 28. ☎ +7 (48232) 2-12-85. 12:00–23:00. hot from 300₽. Conveniently located next to the local history museum, there is a summer veranda overlooking the Volga. Tourist groups are often fed here.
4  Cafe “Skazka”  , st. Lenina, 4 (next to the Exhibition Hall). ☎ +7 (919) 054-91-94. 12:00–23:00. average bill 500₽. A cafe in the city center with pleasant interiors and soft sofas. Emphasis on American and Mexican cuisine: salads, burgers, sweets, alcohol. There are business lunches for 190-250 rubles.

5  Restaurant “Satsivi”, Sovetskaya Sq. 16. ☎ +7 (980) 621-69-99. Mon-Thu and Sun: 11:00–24:00, Fri–Sat 11:00–2:00. hot from 500₽. A recently opened Georgian restaurant with a pleasant interior and good quality service.



The city turned out to be not quite ready for the increased flow of tourists after the opening of the Rzhev Memorial: on weekends and holidays there may not be suitable places, so it is better to book accommodation in advance. An alternative to hotels are private apartments, which are easy to find on booking sites.

1  Hotel “Rzhev”, st. Lenina, 2. ☎ +7 (48232) 2-07-06. Single room with shared facilities: from 830 ₽, standard single: from 1200 ₽, double: from 1600 ₽. A large multi-storey hotel of the Soviet type, the interior has largely been preserved from the same times, but is gradually being improved.
2  Hotel “Sport”  , st. Voloskovskaya Gorka, 2/85. ☎ +7 (48232) 6-00-03. Single: from 3000 ₽.
3  Guest house “Sokol”, st. Karla Marksa, 39. ☎ +7 (910) 648-84-44. Double room: 3200 ₽. Modern comfortable hotel 200 meters from the Volga embankment in a quiet center.


Security questions

In order not to die near Rzhev, it is better to be careful with metal objects in neighboring forests and not to make fires anywhere - shells from the Great Patriotic War may remain everywhere. The city itself is safe during the day, but at night it is better to be careful with drunken companies and not walk around the outskirts unless necessary.

Rzhev is traditionally referred to as the “capital” of Russian car thieves. They mainly operate in other regions, transporting already stolen cars to Rzhev, but just in case, be careful.



Post office 172390, Sovetskaya sq., 16. Mon–Fri 8:00–20:00, Sat 9:00–18:00, Sun 9:00–14:00. The central post office, built in the style of Soviet monumental architecture.



Middle Ages

Historical literature dates the founding of Rzhev to the middle of the 12th century, although in the Novgorod charter it is mentioned under the year 1019. Chronicles refer to this city as Rzhev Volodimirova, Rzhevka and Rzhov.

The favorable geographical location created excellent conditions for the development of trade. But its proximity to the western borders of Russian lands gave the city important defensive significance. Throughout the XIII-XIV centuries, life in the fortress city was very difficult. Whoever owned Rzhev became the owner of both a powerful fortress and part of an important trade route. There was a stubborn struggle for the city - throughout its existence, the Rzhev land was constantly the subject of dispute between the Smolensk, Moscow, Tver, Novgorod and Lithuanian princes.

Until the middle of the 12th century, Rzhev was part of the Smolensk lands, which is confirmed by the charter of Rostislav Mstislavich, Prince of Smolensk, for 1150 (the first official mention of the city in a written source). From Prince Rostislav Rzhev passes to his son Mstislav the Brave, and from that to Mstislav Mstislavich Udatny. Associated with it is the chronicle evidence of the events of 1216, where the city was named “Rzhev, the city of Mstislavl at the top,” that is, located in the upper reaches of the Volga. That year, the Vladimir-Suzdal prince Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich besieged Rzhev. Mstislav Udatny, together with his brother Vladimir Pskovsky, came to the aid of the besieged city and liberated it. V. L. Yanin compiled a detailed description of the geography of the Rzhev land [5], which during this period belonged to the descendants of Mstislav the Brave and was part of the Toropets principality.

From the middle of the 13th century, the Rzhev Principality was part of the possession of the Moscow prince among the appanage cities. The Tver and Novgorod princes, whose possessions approached directly to Rzhev, more than once tried to take it away from Moscow. In the 14th century, a struggle for the city broke out between Moscow and Lithuania, and it changed hands several times. At the beginning of the 15th century, Vasily I erected new fortifications in the city. Subsequently, Rzhev changed owners many times, being a good “bargaining chip” in the political games of the princes, and only in 1521 this long-suffering city finally went to the Grand Duke of Moscow.

For a long time, Prince Vladimir, who was buried with his wife Agrippina in the Assumption Cathedral, was revered as the patron saint of the city of Rzhev. At the beginning of the 20th century, every resident of the city could tell the legend about the defender of Rzhev, Prince Vladimir: “Every time the enemies approached the fortress walls, a silent warrior-Prince Vladimir appeared on the steep Volga bank on a white horse. And every time he waved his hand, the enemies fled from the city. Every night the prince walked around his city on patrol, and every evening the townspeople placed a new pair of boots at the wall. The prince wore out a lot of new boots, but one day the townspeople were too lazy or forgot to put on new princely boots... From then on, the prince became angry with his subjects and left the city.”

In the 18th century, local veneration was discontinued by order of the church authorities, in particular due to the fact that local tradition did not preserve any information about the prince. Vladimir. But as academician E.E. Golubinsky showed, we are talking about Vladimir Mstislavich Pskovsky. Church-wide veneration of St. the faithful Prince Vladimir and Princess Agrippina was established in the 70s of the 20th century.


New time

Moscow attached great importance to Rzhev as a fortress guarding its western borders from the Polish-Lithuanian invasion. During the Time of Troubles, there were impostors, Poles, and Swedes in Rzhev. The residents of Rzhev supported the first impostor; they “sank into the shadow of False Dmitry,” as can be seen from the chronicle. They waged an active struggle with Lisovsky's Poles. The city, besieged by the Poles under the command of boyar Fyodor Sheremetev, gave a worthy rebuff to the enemies, although it itself suffered greatly and many of its defenders died. With the expulsion of the Poles, the city begins to recover. The borders of Rus' are moving away from Rzhev, but for several more decades it continues to remain a reliable rear base and fortress. Under the first Romanovs, a large garrison remained in the Rzhev fortress; the city itself remained a rallying point for noble militia and streltsy regiments during military operations.

The economic importance of Rzhev is also increasing. The flow of convoys with goods along the bolshakas (high roads) located radially from the city and caravans of ships along the Volga is increasing every year. The most important trade in Rzhev becomes the carriage driver, and the coachman becomes one of the main figures in the economic life of Rzhev. More and more inns are being built in the city. By the end of the 17th century, stone buildings began to be erected on the trade side, and new marinas and warehouses were erected on the banks of the Volga. By the beginning of the 18th century, Rzhev became one of the significant commercial and industrial centers of the Russian Empire.

According to the administrative division during the 18th century, Rzhev was first assigned to the Ingermanland province, then became a city of the Tver province of the Novgorod province, and in 1775 - a district city of the Tver governorship. By the middle of the century, 25 plants and factories operated here; oil mills, flax processing, sawmills, tanneries, and brick factories operated on the basis of local raw materials. A lot of working tools, wood and leather were supplied annually for the construction of St. Petersburg; sailing fabric, ropes and ropes were woven here for the fleet. Bread and other food products were delivered from the western provinces and Ukraine to Rzhev, and from Rzhev they went to the new capital. During the summer, more than 100 barges, and in the winter, up to seven thousand convoys transported goods to other cities of Russia. On the trade square of Rzhev, where there was a gostiny yard with 105 stone benches, two fairs were held annually - the National Team and the Petrovskaya. Up to 8 thousand people came to the city from the surrounding villages and hamlets to work at numerous piers and enterprises as loaders, flax and hemp haulers, barge haulers and pilots.

Economic changes did not in any way affect the lifestyle of the townspeople. On the contrary, innovations in everyday life associated with the reforms of Peter I were met with disapproval in Rzhev. “Petrov’s deeds are still the deeds of the Antichrist,” said the Old Believers merchants, of whom there were many in the city. Everything that violated the old order caused violent opposition; even the city authorities’ new plan for improvement and expansion of streets led to a riot. In Rzhev, divided by a river into two parts, two religious centers have historically developed since the time of the church schism. On the right, Prince-Dmitrov, side, the Old Believers merchants “ruled”. On the left, Prince-Fedorovskaya, there are Nikonians, supporters of Nikon. The rivalry between them was extremely hostile, and conversations often included “our side” or “that side.” Rzhev could be called an Old Believers city: according to data on the spread of Old Believers in the Tver province in the 18th-19th centuries, their “main local center was the city of Rzhev, where out of the total number of Old Believers in the province 7775 people, 6416 lived.” The influential merchant class with its capital, the majority of whom were Old Believers, secured great weight and economic dominance in the city.

In the 1870s, Rzhev among the cities of the Tver province was the most significant trading point after Tver itself; it was home to over 30,000 inhabitants. With the construction of railways, the commercial importance of the city fell, and the previously highly developed flax weaving and hemp spinning industries declined. In 1890, the city had 21,397 inhabitants, among whom more than 50% were Old Believers (mostly of the priestless persuasion). In 1896 there were 27 factories and factories. The main items of trade were bread, flax and hemp.

Rzhev was one of the first cities where postal service appeared: since 1866, it had its own zemstvo post office, Rzhev envelopes and stamps were issued. The mail was horse-drawn and left the city on Thursdays and Sundays at a speed of 40 versts per day. For many years, Rzhev was called the “pigeon city.” There were many pigeon coops and pigeons in the city. As a result of crossing and selection, breeds of pigeons were developed that were called “Rzhev”: Rzhev Ribbon Tumbler, Rzhev Seagull.

On October 29 (November 11), 1917, in Rzhev, the Council of Workers' Deputies created the Military Revolutionary Committee and proclaimed the establishment of Soviet power in the city (established in mid-December). The general plan and layout diagram of Rzhev was developed in 1927 by the architect-urban planner A.P. Ivanitsky.


World War 2

Russian soldiers of the Red Army

Rzhev is a common Russian town in the Central part of Russia just few hundred kilometers from Moscow. Historians don't know the etymology of its name. Its origin is also unknown. All we know that the city already existed in the 13th century. It quietly grew and lived its life. In the 19th century several factories were constructed that produced clothes and textile. Rzhev probably would not be worth mentioning if it wasn't for the events that happened here during World War II.


This is the view of Rzhev in the early 20th century. Much of it was destroyed during the course of the Great Patriotic War. Many heard about Battle of Stalingrad or Battle of Berlin, but few have heard about a battle that was fought around Rzhev for over a year. High levels of losses (at least 400,000 dead) and several devastating defeats made this city an uncomfortable page in the history of the war. Even if it was mentioned in the official Soviet records, it was mostly referred as a series of minor fire fights without much strategic value. Only recently historical records began to open up and Rzhev- Vyazma Strategic Offensive Operation became known as a Battle of Rzhev. Soldiers who lived through this carnage called it simply "Rzhev meat grinder" (Ржевская Мясорубка).

Battle of Rzhev started in January of 1942. After the defeat of German forces near Moscow in December of 1941, Stalin hoped to take out Wehrmacht with a single blow. The only major obstacle was the Rzhev salient. The city had a good fortifications system, but it was mostly abandoned when Red Army was re- grouping near Soviet capital. Now Russian army had to retake a well fortified town surrounded by swamps, bogs, virgin forests and numerous rivers and lakes. General Mikhail Grigoryevich Efremov (Yefromov) pictured on the right was chosen to lead 33rd Army into German defenses. General asked for several weeks to prepare for the attack, gather ammunition and fill the ranks of the units that suffered heavy casualties during defense of Moscow just few weeks prior. But Stalin made his decision and no one dared to compete with it.


Red Army quickly breached enemy defenses, but as it was moving inside the territory Germans counter attacked. The 33rd Army was surrendered. Efremov repeatedly asked for reinforcements. Most of units were dangerously low on ammunition. Zhukov who commanded the front refused to give any help. Efremov a desperate and a suicidal move. He ignored his superior and asked Stalin directly. Stalin didn't offer any help and sent a small biplane PO-2 (also known as U-2) to get the general out. General refused to leave his men and instead gave all the flags of army divisions to the pilot so they wouldn't be captured by the German troops. Efremov and his men tried a desperate break out of encirclement. Germans made a final attack. Only few groups managed to return back to the Russian forces. General Efremov committed suicide to avoid becoming a prisoner of war. First attempt to break through the German line have failed.


The body of General Efremov was found by the Germans and delivered to the headquarters. German officer lined up his men on one side of the body, and several Russian POWs on the other. Then he told his men: "Fight for Germany as he fought for Russia". Germans buried 45 years old general in a village of Slobodka. After the war the body was excavated and reburied. When the coffin was opened they found that the golden watch of the general remained in place out of respect for the deceased.



A new attempt to take Rzhev was undertaken later the same year. This time general Ivan I. Maslenikov (pictured left) led his 39th army against German defenses. It went too fast and too deep before the Wehrmacht simply did not encircle it. Stalin sent another plane to rescue his general and Maslenikov did not want to repeat the fate of Efremov. He passed his command to general Ivan A. Bogdanov (pictured right) and left his men. Bogdanov managed to take remaining 10,000 troops out of the encirclement, but just few miles from the friendly ground he was wounded and subsequently died.


Changing strategic situation and defeat of the Wehrmacht in Stalingrad made Rzhev defenses too much of the burden for the German forces. Soldiers were ordered to leave the city and retreat. In a strange last move Hitler asked to carry a phone line to the bridge across Volga river that was intended to be blown up by the retreating forces. Apparantly he wanted to hear in person the destruction of this important crossing point. The old picture of the city on the right is the picture of that bridge. In reality the river was covered in ice so Russian soldiers didn't even intend to cross into city across the bridge. Rzhev was finally retaken on March 3rd of 1943. Only 300 residents that remained in the city were closed in the Old Believers church of Pokrovskaya (Protection). The grounds of the church were mined and booby trapped by the retreating Germans. It took several hours before Russian engineers managed to free the civilians that became prisoners stuck there for hours.


World War II remains

There is no doubt that Rzhev and its surroundings has the highest concentration of remains from the World War II. There is virtually not a single hectare of land that doesn't have human bones, rifles, helmets and many other remains. Swamps and bogs around the city swallowed numerous Soviet and German tanks who were foolish enough to get there. You don't even need a metal detector to find mines, remains of cars and other memorabilia from the time period. Lack of any regulations allowed many people to come and search for firearms, bullets, medals and in some case whole tanks. Technically finders are keepers. With this said there has to be a warning. If you ever go to the country side around Rzhev make sure that you start your fire in a safe place. There have several episodes when young people who came for archeological digs were actually killed by old ammunition after they started a fire over some old forgotten storage.

 Rzhev  Rzhev  Rzhev 

In the past four years along over 18,000 bodies of soldiers were discovered and reburied with all military honours.



Rzhev is the first city downstream on the Volga (200 km from the source), located in the south of the Tver region, 117 km from Tver. The Volga divides the city into two historical districts - the Prince-Fedorovskaya (Soviet) and Prince-Dmitrievskaya (Krasnoarmeiskaya) sides. Three more rivers flow through the city: Kholynka, Serebryanka and Bolshaya Locha.

Rzhev is a major transport hub: the Moscow-Riga and Torzhok-Vyazma railways intersect here, and the M9 Baltic highway runs 1 km from the southern border of the city.