In the mind of a Tsar – A town is Born – Part II


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The first glimpse of the Island is a beautiful sight. It hard to conceive that the materials for this small town started 885 kilometers (550 miles) away in the Uglich forest not far from a city with the same name. It took a full winter to cut down and prepare all the materials, at the same time the top of the heavily wooded island was cleared of its trees. Ivan Grozny ordered his military engineer Ivan Vyrodkov to create a design for a new fortress that would be erected. It would become an unprecedented case in the history of building – just within four weeks after the materials arrive.  A wooden fortress town with huge oak walls, golden dome churches, decorated houses and high towers and belfries were completed on the island. It’s interesting to note that the materials that were floated down the river was only enough to build half the city. The other half came from the trees that were felled during the clearing for the city itself.

The history of Sviyazhsk is nearly 500 years old,  it rose then fell and today is rising again., poverty and prosperity plagued it, it lived in fame and fell into oblivion, it was also once a place of respect only to fall into humiliation.
One Ivan Grozny had conquered Kazan the  powerful fortress was turned into a big administrative center and trade town where foreign ambassadors and tradesmen would come. Later in history, Sviyazhsk became a monastery a place where life was modest, quiet and full of beatitudes. Then in 1781 Sviyazhsk was assigned to Kazan province and was given its own emblem. The emblem pictured of a floating town and fish underneath, which signified the town was brought here from the Uglich forests. After the October Revolution Sviyazhsk looked like it had been pillaged, with defiled churches, and became a place that housed prisoners.
Today you see a revival of the old fortress town. Just like in olden times, travelers get to see white stone Monastery walls and the golden domes of churches. The city itself boosts a small population between 7-800 people living there today. It’s possible they might even be descendants of those who built this fortress town named Sviyazhsk. One thing is for sure the views from the island are absolutely gorgeous. You will even find modern Russian style homes within the city. But don’t let that fool you because right around the corner and down the hill you will find the traditional Russian country homes.
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