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Today I'd want to tell you a true story about one small but beautiful Russian town. The Google Earth system named this town "Russian Atlantida" although its real name is Kalyazin ...


A bell tower

Kalyazin is a peaceful town (it has just about 16 000 inhabitants) located on the right bank of the Volga river. Most likely the name "Russian Atlantida" comes from those awful events of 1940, when almost 2/3 of the town was flooded because of the construction of the Uglitch hydroelectric power station. The picture above is a sad symbol of that time - a bell tower of the St. Nicola cathedral that stays right among the Volga river. The St. Nicola cathedral itself (built in 1694) was also ruined in 1940. Now the bell tower is empty and cheerless. Only sometimes tourist boats and yachts moor nearby.

The Volga river

Meanwhile the place is really picturesque. Here two rivers (Jabnya and Puda) flow into Volga parting Zaretchye settlement (this name can be translated as "a place behind the river") from the town.

Monastery island

The Monastery island can be seen from Zaretchye. The famous Trotskiy Kalyazin monastery (1444 - 1940) stood there. The monastery was really famous. Many of Russian tsars esteemed its temples. Ivan the Terrible and Boris Godunov, Michael and Alexey Romanov, the empress Ekatherine II and the emperor Alexander II visited it. So these places breathes with Russian history.

Unfortunately now only a base of the ancient wall left in the middle of the island. Some years ago a local businessman built a chapel in memory of the monastery. There is also a wooden cross on the bank. The island itself is very beautiful - old willows, birches and dog-roses grow there. In some places of its banks tree roots form amazing red lines, weeping willows rinse their long branches in the Volga river so that if you go under them along the bank by boat, it seems like you're in a temple...

Islets among the Volga

Many scenic islets scatter along the river but this one is special, this is a small part of the old town land. Now the islet is also overgrown with willows, birches and rush. Rocky shoals don't let moor to the islet by a yacht or a catter but fans of islands easily get to it by boats.

At present time Kalyazin looks drowsy. The most part of the town buildings are Moscow summer cottages (Moscow is just in 170 km to the south). Local industry were ruined during heavy years of "perestroika". Alas it's an ordinary picture of a modern Russian province. But even in years of socializm the town didn't have any polluting enterprises. All enterprises that left after the bureaucratic bourgeois reformation (or so called "perestroika" with its continuation) were bought by Moscow businessmen and started to recover. Interest of the rich Russians to this territory is obvious. Local air is clear. Landscapes are so scenic that could satisfy any artist. Cruise liners pass by and you can listen to guide stories even from the river banks. On this background the tourist infrastructure develops here - for instant, a sanatorium has been built just recently. So the town lives on...

(C) Alexander Kalinkin