Venyov is a small provincial town in
Central Russia. Its name derives from the ancient Russian word “veneva”:
this is how they called the birch tree in the olden days. Venyov was
first mentioned in the chronicles as early as 1371.
Throughout the ages, the territories
adjacent to the town were raided, on and off, by nomads of the steppe.
In the middle of the 16th century, during the reign of Ivan
IV (Ivan the Terrible ), a
border stronghold with towers, all made of oak, was built here, on the
high hill above the Venyovka river: it was of the forts which were
supposed to be able to stop Tatar and Lithuanian raids help against
Moscow. Hence, the Streletskaya (Riflemen’s) and the Pushkarskaya
(Gunner’s) Quarters still exist in our town today, their names hailing
from centuries ago.
Over the last 150 years a tall belfry
tower became the symbol of Venyov, rising 80 meters high as the tallest
structure in the Tula Region. The belfry stands at Venyov’s central
square called Red [Beautiful] Square. Its construction – along with that
of the adjacent Nikolski [St. Nicholas] church (demolished in the late
1940s) – was financed by donations from Venyov’s inhabitants between
1801 and 1860.
At the south-eastern side of the
sprawling Red Square of Venyov, high above the river, the Bogoyavlenski
church built in the 18th century is defined by its harmonious
polygonal-roofed belfry tower. At the beginning of the 19th
century, Venyov, a rather small town, could boast of eight churches. Six
of them still stand today. Of them, the Predtechenski [John the
Baptist], Bogoyavlenski [Epiphany] and Voskresenski [Resurrection]
churches are open for the Russian Orthodox worshippers.
Stone Chambers, a three-storey
building in the middle of the Red Square of Venyov, was built in the 17th
century. This is the oldest existing civic structure in our town as well
as in the Tula Region. The Venyov Local History Museum with its unique
collections was moved to this building in 1980.
In 1778 Empress Catherine the Great
bestowed a special coat of arms to Venyov: a golden dry measure among
the silver-and-green stripes, being a symbol for grain trading for which
this town was famed at the time. In the 18th and 19th
centuries Venyov was a center of very lively commerce. Such Venyov
merchant families as the Rastorguyevs, the Ovodovs, the Zuyevs, the
Belugins, the Tulins and others were trading in grain, beef, lumber,
white limestone, and other goods.
A hospital was built in Venyov in
1828, a town school in 1834, and in 1869 our town’s Pleasure Grounds
were laid out, boasting of a theater and a brass band performance space.
Regular railway connection to Moscow was established by 1904. Many of
the old Venyov’s memorial sites could survive until this day, mostly
keeping their original, undistorted form.
Ten manor houses of the Russian landed
gentry still exist nowadays in the Venyov area. The palace of the counts
Beloselsky-Belozyorsky lives out its remaining days in Urusovo village.
Prior to her departure to Italy, countess Volkonskaya lived in that
palace, and she was known in her day as a singer, poet, composer and a
great friend of Aleksandr Pushkin, Russia’s most famed poet. Close to
Khruslovka village a palace of baroness von Meck is hidden in a dense
forest: she was a well-known philanthropist and great friend of
Tchaikovsky, Russia’s best composer. The village of Stchutchie still has
an intact country estate of the Pushkin-Tchernosvitov family.
Downstream from that village, on the
high left riverbank, a unique archaeological site can be seen, called
the Stchutchi Burg (it was erected in the 10th – 12th
The Venev-Nikolsky Monastery, the
oldest in the Tula Region, is located close to Venyov. According to
legend, Venerable Sergius of Radonezh visited here several times in the
14th century when hermit Pyotr lived at the site. In 1408
Yuri, the prince of Smolensk, was buried here, and in 1571 Pimen, the
archbishop of Novgorod, banned to this monastery by Ivan the Terrible
for his role in opposing Moscow rule, died here in captivity. The
beautiful, double-level Nikolo-Uspensky (Nicholas-Assumption) Church
erected in 1701 was never altered, so we can still enjoy its clear,
ancient architectural forms.
Uspensko-Iversky Convent existed in
the Borstchyovoe village in the 19th century. It was founded
by the funds donated for the purpose by a local estate owner, a Ms.
Khripkova,. Today the main church of the convent’s complex is already
restored. The oldest stone-built church of the Venyov area, a
five-domed Odigitria (The Guidance) Church erected in the 17th
century is still standing in the Gorodenets village.
Ancient stone quarries located around
Venyov are also worth mentioning. At many sites (e.g., in Khruslovka,
Karpovo, Byakovo, Guryev) dozens of kilometers of old adits and tunnels
exist underground. Mining limestone was the main occupation for many
locals throughout the ages. Limestone from Venyov was used to build the
Tula Kremlin in the 16th century. And in the 20th
century this stone found its use during the construction of the Moscow
Metro. Every fall many fans of extreme (or shock) tourism converge on
these sites of old quarries.
A special place amongst the holy
monuments of Venyov is allocated to a site called Twelve Springs on the
outskirts of Sviridovo village. Every year in mid-June an large grassy
meadow adjoining the springs welcomes a folklore festival called Twelve
Springs, in which folk singing groups from all over Russia participate.
The Day of Venyov is celebrated every year at the last Saturday of
If you wish to enjoy the peace and
quiet of an old Russian town, please come to our Venyov and learn more
about its amazing history.
 Tsar Ivan IV was called “Grozny”
in his lifetime. This epithet is usually rendered in the West as
“Terrible”. “Grozny”, however, is a much more complex notion
than “Terrible”: at the time, the Tsar was regarded by common
people as a representative of God, as His live image. “Grozny”
represents the idea of Heavenly Order and Sacred Justice, i.e.
the bearer of such a title was seen as having the right to judge
and to persecute for transgressions against the Celestial Truth.
“Formidable Tsar” was also a verbal formulation defining a
sovereign ruler, and it became current after Russian princes had
united under a Tsar and started repulsing invasions of the Tatar
and Mongol Horde. In this sense, today’s perception of Ivan
Grozny’s title may be different from that of his era. At the
time it did not have negative connotations relating to the
notion of Tsar’s grandeur (not of him being a tyrant). Even
though Ivan Grozny was indeed a cruel person and a mad tyrant.
Like many other rulers, at all times.