Undiscovered Russia: One Of Most Ancient Russian Towns On Beloye Lake

Undiscovered Russia: One of Most Ancient Russian Towns on Beloye Lake

Two Sputnik correspondents recently visited Belozersk, one of the most ancient Russian towns located on the shore of the Beloye Lake in the Vologda Region

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 10th February, 2021) Two Sputnik correspondents recently visited Belozersk, one of the most ancient Russian towns located on the shore of the Beloye Lake in the Vologda Region.

In winter, it is difficult to reach Belozersk from Vologda, as the shortest route includes a ferry crossing over the Sheksna River, which of course is not operating until late spring, so we needed to choose another, much longer road.

The road to Belozersk is very impressive: it goes through dense forests without any village visible for a driver, creating the impression of a trip through Siberian forests, not those in European Russia.

The historic name of Belozersk is Beloozero deriving from its location on Beloye Lake (White Lake). According to the Primary Chronicle (the Tale of Bygone Years), in the middle of the 9th century, Beloozero was the capital of the Finno-Ugric tribe Ves, which is associated with the modern Vepsians.

In 862, the eastern Slavic tribes are believed to have called on Scandinavian Duke Rurik to rule over the Russian lands, and he arrived with two brothers: Sineus and Truvor. While Rurik chose Novgorod as his capital, Truvor was sent to Pskov and Sineus to Beloozero. Modern historians believe that both Sineus and Truvor never existed and the author of the Primary Chronicle misunderstood the Scandinavian expressions "Tru vor" (our faithful) and "Sine hus" (his households or his clan).

In 1071, the lands of Beloozero became the heart of the pagan rebellion against Christianization, which was forcibly put down by Kievan commander Yan Vyshatich.

In 1238-1389, Beloozero was a capital of a semi-independent principality. In 1352, the town was fully devastated by the black death pandemic, after which the settlement was in fact re-founded at a new place.

In 1380, Duke of Beloozero Fyodor supported the army of Grand Duke of Moscow Dmitry in the latter's defensive campaign against Golden Horde commander Mamai. The campaign ended with Moscow's decisive victory in the Battle of Kulikovo, in which Fyodor was killed. After his death, the dynasty of Beloozero dukes faced a crisis, which ended with the principality's accession to the Grand Principality of Moscow.

In the 15-16th centuries, Belozersk was prospering due to its location on major trade routes, but in 1612, during the so-called Time of Troubles in Russia, the town was burnt by Lisowczycy, the irregular units of the Polish-Lithuanian light cavalry.

The devastation by Lisowczycy, as well as the changed trade routes, turned Belozersk into a small provincial town.

In 1703, Russian Tsar Peter I The Great founded the new Russian capital of St. Petersburg, which raised� the problem of transport between the new capital and Moscow. Peter himself ordered the construction of the Vyshny Volochyok Waterway, which became the first waterway connecting the Baltic Sea and the Caspian Sea. The Vyshny Volochyok Waterway was a modern transport system for the early 18th century, but in the 19th century it turned out to be insufficient for the huge cargo traffic.

In 1811, Russia opened a new waterway through the town of Tikhvin but it was constructed in an improper way and failed to ensure the cargo traffic between the two capitals.

Approximately at the same time, one more waterway, known as the Mariinsky Canal System, was built to connect the two seas, with Belozersk being a key town for the new route.

The waterway went through the Sheksna River, Beloye Lake, the Kovzha River, the Mariinsky Channel,� the Vytegra River,� the Onega Lake, the Svir River, the Ladoga Lake and nearby channels as well as the Neva River.

The Mariinsky Canal System was several times modernized and served until the second half of the 20th century. In 1964, the Soviet Union built the Volga-Baltic Waterway, which in fact is a modernized Mariinsky Canal System. The waterway is operating until today.

In the 21st century, Belozersk faced one of the greatest challenges in its history.� In summer 2019, an owner of a private household in Belozersk wanted to supply her house with a water and ordered the construction of a water borehole. The routine work took a sudden turn when a huge stream of water with a speed of 5 meters (over 16 feet) per second started to flood the nearby area.

In August 2019, the town declared an emergency situation regime but all the efforts were futile: some 4,000 cubic meters of water left the borehole every day. The incident was caused by a unique chain of natural factors under the house where the borehole is located: a powerful water vein under huge pressure, several tectonic fractures, and a sinkhole.

In October 2019, the house started to go underground as the water stream damaged the sinkhole. The rest of the house was demolished by the town authorities. The incident put a town district under the threat of a heavy flood and collapse because of the sinkhole.

The authorities struggle to control the water stream throughout the winter, building several boreholes to weaken the stream and filling them with plug-back mixtures. Experts from different regions were used to tackle the problem, while local priests prayed for victory in this struggle.

In March 2020, the water stream was finally stopped and the emergency situation regime lifted. The situation is being monitored as no one can guarantee that it will not happen again.

We have visited the place of the ill-famous borehole: now nothing reminds us about the titanic struggle between human and nature that took place here less than a year ago.

Along with the borehole, Belozersk has many beautiful and interesting sights for its visitors. First of all, the Belozersk Kremlin with the Transfiguration Cathedral built in the 17th century and the earth wall constructed in the 15th century.

The town has several beautiful churches: with the Assumption Church (16th century) and the All-Merciful Savior Church (18th century) being the most wonderful pieces of architecture from my point of view. Several other interesting churches are still in a very poor condition, including a wooden one built in the 17th century and a stone one erected in early 19th century, allegedly built by great Russian architect Vasily Bazhenov.

Belozersk also has several highly interesting museums: including the Local History Museum with impressive architectural models of ancient Beloozero and augmented VR, as well as the Museum of the Beloye Lake that tells about the nature of the nearby territory.

Belozersk is a really hard-to-reach town but for me, it is the embodiment of everything I love in traveling within Russia: beautiful wild nature, northern forests, a huge lake, ancient buildings and rich history. That was my second trip to this wonderful town - and, hopefully, not the last one.