Ermak Travel Guide

 

Veliky Ustyug

Veliky Ustyug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

Interesting information and useful tips

 

Description of Veliky Ustyug

Veliky Ustyug is located in the north-eastern part of the Vologda region. It is the ancient Russian city that lies at the confluence of the Sukhona and Yug (the South in Russian), because of which he received his initial name (Ustyug - Ustye Yuga or mouth of Yug river). The prefix "Great" was given to the city by the royal command for its role in history and commercial significance. Ustyug lay on the important path of development of the Komi-Permyak lands, the Urals, and then Siberia, and was home to many Russian explorers. Later, the value of the city decreased significantly. Destructive, for churches and cathedrals, the years of Soviet power Ustyug survived, retaining its wealth of temple architecture of the XVIII century in the style of northern baroque.

Despite the sufficient transport inaccessibility, in the last ten to fifteen years, the city has experienced a real tourist boom, which, incidentally, is seasonal. Veliky Ustyug is positioned as a place of residence for Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost, pagad symbol of winter that brings presents to kids and less Christian version of Santa Claus), which makes it attractive for family tourism in the winter. Lovers of history and architecture, as well as the harsh, but beautiful northern nature, it is better to come here in the summer, it will be a very interesting, informative and memorable trip.

Veliky Ustyug is located on the bank of the Sukhona River at the confluence of the South tributary, 30 kilometers from the border with the Arkhangelsk Region and 60 kilometers from Kotlas.

 

 

 

Travel Destinations in Veliky Ustyug

Veliky Ustyug preserves much of its architectural heritage and has one of the best preserved architectural ensembles in Russia. The town contains 152 objects classified as cultural and historical heritage by the Russian Federal law and 25 objects classified as cultural and historical heritage of local importance. It is classified as a historical town by the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation, which implies certain restrictions on construction in the historical center.

Most of the architectural monuments are on the left bank of the Sukhona, and many of these are the living houses. The exceptions are Troitsko-Gledensky Monastery and the Dymkovo Sloboda, on the right bank of the Sukhona. Troitsko-Gledensky Monastery is in the village of Morozovitsa, in Velikoustyugsky District.

The principal architectural ensembles of Veliky Ustyg are:
The old Sobornoye Dvorishche (Cathedral Square), with the ensemble of Assumption Cathedral (1619–1659), the St. Prokopius Cathedral (1668, Prokopius is the local saint who lived in Ustyug), the Cathedral of St. John the Righteous (1656—1663), and the Epiphany Church (1689)
Mikhaylo-Arkhangelsky Monastery with the Cathedral of Archangel Michael (1653—1656), the Presentation Church (1653), the Gate Church of St. Vladimir (1682), and the Church of Mid-Pentecost (1710), the wall with towers and the cells
Former transfiguration monastery: The Transfiguration Church, the Presentation Church (1725–1739), and the St. George Church (1696–1704)
The St. Nicholas Church with the bell-tower (17th century)
The Ascension Church (1648)
The Church of Women Bearing Myrrh (1714–1722)
The Church of St. Simeon the Stylite (18th century)
The monuments of civil architecture are mostly concentrated along the Sukkhona, along Sovetsky Avenue and Krasnaya Street.

Some of these buildings belong to the Velikoustyugsky Museum of History, Art, and Architecture. The museum was open in 1909 in the premises of Mikhaylo-Arkhangelsky Monastery. In 1918 it was transformed into the Museum of the Northern Dvina Culture. Between 1924 and 1938 the museum director was Nikolay Bekryashev, an artist, who devoted his energy to extending the museum to the old buildings, mostly churches, of the town, which thus were saved from destruction. In particular, a big collection of icons and objects of applied arts survived. Despite the efforts of Bekryashev and other museum employees, some of the buildings were destroyed by the authorities. The museum currently serves as an umbrella institution that organizes permanent and temporary exhibits in the former church buildings.

 

 

History of Veliky Ustyug

The town of Veliky Ustyug was first mentioned in a chronicle in 1207. In 1212, Mikhaylo-Arkhangelsky Monastery was founded. It was a part of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality (in contrast to the neighboring lands, most notably Totma, colonized by Novgorod). Thus Veliky Ustyug created the only obstacle to Novgorod's trade with the north, as the Sukhona and the Northern Dvina were the main waterways connecting Novgorod with the White Sea. Clashes between Novgorod and Ustyug became regular, especially throughout the whole 14th century. In 1328, Ustyug was annexed by the Grand Duchy of Moscow.

The town was not immediately affected by the Mongol invasion of Rus' in the 13th century; however, its rapid growth in the second half of the century was due to influx of refugees from Central Russia.

In the 15th century, Veliky Ustyug became notable for the war between Vasily II of Moscow and his cousin Dmitry Shemyaka, which left northern Russia deserted. Shemyaka took Veliky Ustyug in 1450, drowned in the Sukhona those citizens who refused to accept him as a prince, and made the town his residence for two years, until he was driven off by the forces of Vasily. In the 15th century, the town had a great military importance and became the base for the operations against the Finno-Ugric peoples.

In 1613, during the Time of Troubles, Veliky Ustyug was besieged by Polish troops but never taken. At the junction of important trade routes, the town turned into a significant commercial and industrial center in the 16th and 17th centuries. Veliky Ustyug area was the birthplace of the explorers Semyon Dezhnyov, Yerofey Khabarov, Vladimir Atlasov, and of St. Stephen of Perm. Veliky Ustyug lost its key role as a river port with the diminishing importance of the Sukhona River route for trade between China and western Europe, which started with the foundation of Saint-Petersburg in 1703, whereby the trade was diverted to the Baltic Sea.

The 16th and 17th centuries were the time of the highest rise of the culture in Veliky Ustyug, in which it acquired a national-wide significance. The town is known for its remarkable handicrafts, such as silver filigree, birch bark fretwork, decorative copper binding, and niello. The town developed a distinct manner of icon painting — Ustyug icon painting. In the 17th century, Veliky Ustyug was a major producer of tiles, which are visible on many Ustyug churches and were sold to neighboring towns of the Russian North. On January 25, 1613, the town was unsuccessfully besieged by Polish-Lithuanian vagabonds (see Lisowczycy) led by Jakub Jacki.

In the course of the administrative reform carried out in 1708 by Peter the Great, Veliky Ustyug was explicitly mentioned as one of the 20 towns included into the Archangelgorod Governorate. From 1719, it was the center of Ustyug Province, one of the four provinces of the Governorate. In 1780, the governorate was abolished and transformed into Vologda Viceroyalty. The latter was abolished in 1796, and Veliky Ustyug became the center of Velikoustyugsky Uyezd of Vologda Governorate. In 1918, the town became the administrative center of the newly established Northern Dvina Governorate. In 1924, the uyezds were abolished in favor of the new divisions, the districts (raions).

In 1929, Northern Dvina Governorate was merged into Northern Krai. The krai consisted of five okrugs, one of which, Northern Dvina Okrug, had its administrative center in Veliky Ustyug. In July 1930, the okrugs were abolished, and the districts were directly subordinated to Northern Krai. In 1936, Northern Krai was transformed into Northern Oblast, and in 1937, Northern Oblast was split into Arkhangelsk Oblast and Vologda Oblast. Veliky Ustyug remained in Vologda Oblast ever since.

Veliky Ustyug, in contrast to the majority of historical Russian towns, managed to preserve almost all of its architectural and cultural monuments. This was in a great part due to the efforts of the local intellectuals grouped around the Regional Museum, and most notably of Nikolay Bekryashev, the museum director from 1924 to 1938. This group managed to convince the authorities that the churches and old buildings have a historical significance and must be handed in the museum rather than demolished.

 

 

 

 


 

Transportation

Roads connect Veliky Ustyug with other towns. The road to the north runs to Krasavino and further to Kotlas. The one to the south runs to Nikolsk and further to Manturovo, where it connects to the road to Kostroma. The road to the southwest connects Veliky Ustyug with Vologda via Totma. It was built in the beginning of the 21st century; before this road was opened, the only way to get from Veliky Ustyug to Vologda was via Nikolsk and Totma. All these roads are paved.

An unpaved road, originating from Kuzino (which is connected with Veliky Ustyug by a ferry crossing) runs to Luza and continues to Lalsk and further to the Komi Republic.

The railroad connects Veliky Ustyug with Yadrikha railway station on the railroad connecting Konosha and Kotlas. The passenger service to Veliky Ustyug was discontinued in 2005.

The Sukhona, the Yug, and the Northern Dvina are all navigable in Veliky Ustyug, but there is no passenger navigation except for ferry crossings.

Veliky Ustyug is served by the Veliky Ustyug Airport with occasional passenger service to Vologda.

 

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

 

 

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

 

 

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

 

 

Interesting information and useful tips