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Познавательный ресурс по истории города Венёва Тульской области и его окрестностей

 

 

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Tourist Information

Vladimir Bolotnikov
2011


 

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 [1]), 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 century AD).

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 August.

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.

 

[1] 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.