What is Vologda

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 20 Aug 2009)


The ancient city of Vologda could be easily included to The Golden Ring of Russia

for it’s not interior to other great Russian cities in significance and beauty. They call Vologda the gate to the North because very important ways connecting central Russia with the North and the Urals pass through here. In my opinion, Vologda is the most charming and interesting city to visit after St.-Petersburg in the whole northwest region.

Vologda is of same age as Moscow (founded in 1147) and its contribution to Russian history is not less appreciable than that of Moscow. What is more, it nearly became the capital of the Russian state. Ivan the Terrible intended to move his residence

to Vologda in earnest, reasoning it that Muscovites were cantankerous and quarrelsome folks but Vologda inhabitants were solely staid and positive people. The legend has it, that a brick fell down on the tsar either in Sophiysky Cathedral or while he was walking through the Vologda Kremlin gates, which he interpreted as a bad sign and the final decision was not made in the favour of Vologda. Peter the First also used to visit the city and in the memory of his visits the first city museum was established in the house of Dutch merchants Goutmans.

Today Vologda is a quiet provincial town where the flow of time slows down.

Vologodians walk along the peaceful streets and the banks of the Vologda River unhurriedly and with pride and calmness on their faces. You can often see modern blocks of flats on one side of a street with very old wooden houses on the other. But even in quiet Vologda sometimes you can get into a traffic jam. People coming from big cities often told me how kind and hospitable Vologodians were, unlike in their cities.

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Vologda is the administrative and cultural centre of the Vologda region, which is developed and prosperous. Vologda butter and lace are well-known in Russia as well as abroad. Vologda is comparably small (about 300,000 people) while the number of churches and monuments is surprisingly large. If you spent a couple of months here you’d be recognizing people in the streets. I think it’s because Vologda has a clear centre where thousands of people meet every day on the way to work or to university, when they go shopping or just walking around. Night life is pretty modest as compared to Moscow or St.-Petersburg but still there are very good night clubs that often host famous guests from bigger cities. The town is clean enough,

maybe everything is not so neat like in European cities but this “wild” beauty has the charm of its own. Accommodation and food is relatively cheap, it’s easy to get a room for $12 for a night. On the whole, the infrastructure in Vologda is well developed. By the way, they have recently installed loudspeakers in the streets playing the so-called “city radio”. Not everybody likes it but anyway now people walk in the evening in the centre to the music or advertisement. The best time to visit Vologda is either in January, when everything is covered with snow (the city turns unimaginably beautiful with an ineffable atmosphere of the Russian North) or in summer, which is short but rather hot. In summer the streets look extraordinarily green. Vologda experiences the moderate-continental climate, with an average temperature of January -15 and July +23.

On my mind, Vologda is

a unique combination of a distinctive ancient Russian town and a modern centre of the region. Nowhere else can you find such a place like the Vologda land. When all Vologodian temples start to chime to the vespers, there is such pacification, harmony and stillness spreading in the air that it will definitely make you fall to thinking about something eternal and elevated…





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