roads of the wild
Being a hundred kilometers from Moscow, the Tver region is strikingly different from it. Here, dense forests and impenetrable swamps, ancient fortified monasteries rise among the villages, abandoned temples and manors evoke nostalgia for the irrevocable past. Lake Seliger, the source of the Volga, Borisoglebsky Monastery and Nilova Pustyn, the only gold embroidery factory in Russia in Torzhok, and much more - this is the basis of the Tver region.
Top 10 interesting places to visit:
Old town and Orthodox cathedrals of Tver
Traveling palace of Catherine II in Tver
Museum "Torzhok Gold Embroiderers", Torzhok
Borisoglebsky Monastery, Torzhok
Kazan Monastery, Vyshny Volochek
Bell tower of St. Nicholas Cathedral, Kalyazin
Nilo-Stolobensky Monastery and landscapes of Lake Seliger
The old town of Ostashkov
Darwin Nature Reserve, Vesyegonsk
Ivankovskoye Water Reservoir and Zavidovo National Park
Sights map of the Tver region
Detailed map of all places in the region can be seen on the website of the national tourism portal RUSSIA.TRAVEL
Travel in the Tver region
Many go on a journey for a new experience. Some find them in a relaxing holiday in the city, while others take active walks in the wilds of the forest. For some travellers it is very important to learn about the cultural and national heritage of the region, while others will gladly exchange “boring museums” for extreme river rafting. There are people who need to feel comfort and prosperity, walking along the wide pavements with rich architecture, and there are those who like a cozy rustic romance. In the Tver region, not everyone can find something close to the soul, but everyone can feel the provincial atmosphere of the county of Russia.
It is amazing how very close to Moscow the surrounding landscapes are changing. Noisy illuminated avenues are replaced by broken country roads, high glass skyscrapers give way to one-story wooden huts, and wide fields and meadows are replaced by dense thickets and impenetrable swamps. The Tver region has an ancient and eventful history: a long time ago the Principality of Tver rivaled Moscow with wealth and strength, but the uprising of the Tver inhabitants against the Tatar-Mongol yoke in 1327, which Ivan Kalita used to defeat Tver with the help of the Golden Horde, led to the destruction of the principality and the accession of its territories to Moscow. Thus ended the independent history of the region, which today remains at the margins of civilization, becoming increasingly depleted under the influence of neighboring Moscow. And the point here is not only that many local residents leave to work in the capital to earn money, but rather about the general national and cultural condition that was frozen in the Soviet past. Most of the architectural structures in the region are the heritage of the last century, which today is not in the best condition. And the little that remains of the royal and imperial heritage is today either forgotten and abandoned in the wild jungle, or is under the tutelage of the state in the capital of the Tver region.
However, the Soviet era spawned several new attractions here, which today attract with their authenticity and gloomy atmosphere. The most interesting of them is located in the county town of Kalyazin, which in 1940 was almost completely flooded during the creation of the Uglich Reservoir. The whole old town, monastery and merchant chambers were disassembled or went under water, and over the surface of the newly formed backwater there was only the high bell tower of St. Nicholas Cathedral, now serving as a beacon for the Volga ships. Sometimes prayers are held here, and in the summer you can hear the ringing bell, spreading for kilometers around and creating a very special atmosphere of the distant Russian hinterland. Not far from Kalyazin is the ancient city of Kashin, whose Orthodox churches have a history of several centuries. Once it was a large Volga settlement and competed in strength with Tver, but today it is a small town with a population of 15,000 people, which can attract only with its rustic atmosphere and beautiful Orthodox cathedrals. It is definitely worth a visit, like the nearby authentic Kalyazin!
The long road from Kashin to Tver passes through remote places where village life is still warm. Although there are many villages and settlements here, the transport connection and the quality of roads leave much to be desired, and many local residents, because of a lack of work, maintain their houses as vegetable gardens and dachas. In winter, these places literally die out when most people move closer to civilization in Tver. On one of the abandoned wooden houses in Goritsy you can see the inscription: "Master, come back! I feel bad without you ...". This phrase best conveys the basic perception of these places. Approaching Tver, until the last moment it is not believed that a city will appear soon. Only after the sharp turn of the highway to Vesyegonsk does the dense forest part, and in the distance tall stone buildings begin to be seen.
Tver grows and develops due to the migration of the population from the region to the city, and therefore it is actively built up by multi-storey complexes on the outskirts. The city center is filled with classical Soviet architecture, which replaced the merchant buildings that were completely destroyed during the Great Patriotic War. In honor of the victory, in the city a large memorial was erected, as well as the nearby Tver Chapel. During the Soviet era, many beautiful buildings were built here that are still pleasing to the eye: building complexes on Sovetskaya and Trekhsvyatskaya streets, on the embankments of Stepan Razin and Afanasy Nikitin. In the central park there is a beautiful cinema "Star", next to which rises the main cultural heritage of the imperial past - Travel Palace of Catherine II. Russian emperors stopped there on the way from Moscow to St. Petersburg, and this route is the main economic and cultural dominant of the region. It is impossible to imagine how life would have developed in these places if the road to St. Petersburg had been laid differently. Nevertheless, it is thanks to her that life is supported in several large cities of the region - Vyshny Volochyok, Bologoe and Torzhok. If you plan a trip to St. Petersburg by car, then include a visit to each of them in the route!
One of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the region is located very close to Tver. The once large merchant center of the Novgorod principality, and now the small county town of Torzhok attracts with its semi-rustic, slightly dilapidated appearance. Here you will not find large buildings or wide avenues, big promenades or vibrant entertainment. Instead, in Torzhok you can feel the cozy atmosphere of the county of Russia: narrow streets with village huts, a small promenade along the Tvertsa River, and many ancient churches and cathedrals. The main architectural dominant of the city is the Borisoglebsky Monastery, which has been leading its history for more than 800 years and is a unique monastery in Central Russia in terms of architectural performance. Most of the buildings in Torzhok, including the monastery complex and almost all other temples and cathedrals, are abandoned or in broken condition. Many of them were blown up or destroyed during the Soviet era, and the few that survived experienced all the hardships and deprivations of the era. However, today they are gradually returning to life thanks to funding, which gives hope for a new Renaissance of Torzhok. Moreover, the city is famous not only for these temples, but also for the Russian ancient folk craft of gold embroidery, the beauty of which are still amazing. In order to get to know this craft more closely, it is best to go to the museum at the "Torzhok Zolotoshvei" factory, where the best examples of this craft are presented. Be sure to visit this museum, because there are none like it in any other point on the planet!
Moving further north, directly on the highway to St. Petersburg is the city of Vyshny Volochyok. Its name can be explained by its geographical location: there was a narrow isthmus between the rivers connecting the Baltic and Caspian Seas, along which goods and cargo were literally dragged from one river to another (Russian word "volochyt"). The first artificial water canal in Russia was built in Vyshny Volochyok, which serves to trade and provide St. Petersburg with food and goods. However, with the construction of the Mariinsky water system and the Volga-Baltic Waterway, the canal in Vyshny Volochyok ceased to be needed, and as a result remained in the center of the city as a tribute to the historical past. The same happened with the Vyshny Volochek shopping malls, which were once the center of the city’s life on the road between St. Petersburg and Moscow, but today they are abandoned and give the impression of a “ghost from the past”.
The farther into the forest, the more is the firewood. If you understand this phrase literally, then it perfectly describes the land in the north-west of the Tver region. Here, dense forest thickets and windbreaks are replaced by impenetrable swamps, and a large amount of water, due to heavy rainfall and underground sources, does not allow any field work — only deforestation and collection of wood resources. If you go on a steam train from the city of Bologoye to the old town of Ostashkov in the Upper Volga, then throughout the route you will not meet a single large settlement. Most of the villages here are abandoned and hidden in the forests, a small number of local residents are compensated only by Moscow tourists traveling to rest on Lake Seliger, and the lack of roads and even paths in the forests speaks of absolute wilderness, where the only connection with civilization is a two-car train once a day.
Arriving on Lake Seliger, most tourists immediately go in search of comfortable places for housing and outdoor activities. It provides hundreds of kilometers of deserted beaches, many calm lagoons for fishing, and pristine forests are beckoning to spend a weekend in the bosom of nature or go hiking. It is no coincidence that Seliger was very popular among Soviet tourists, because it was on the list of the best all-Union tourist routes! To this day, the lake remains an attractive place to relax for many Russians. In addition to the beautiful natural scenery, the lake has one of the most beautiful and most revered monasteries in Russia - the Nilov Monastery, which traces its history from the cell of the Monk Nile. Having been tonsured at the Krypetsk monastery near Pskov, Nile spent a lot of time in prayers and remorse for his sins, and also sometimes hosted local residents. His fame spread far nearby, and after his death a monastery was erected on the island, now attracting crowds of pilgrims and tourists. Here are very picturesque and soulful places that can be best seen in sunny weather - then the golden domes of the monastery will play brightly in the sun, and from the height of the bell tower a breathtaking panorama of the lake and the surrounding forests will open.
Although many tourists come to Seliger, only a small part of them reach Ostashkov, the local regional center. Meanwhile, this city has a very ancient history and a pleasant county-level romance. Here beautiful ancient churches and cathedrals, wooden houses and huts adorn the central streets, and the wide promenade allows you to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Lake Seliger. Ostashkov was once one of the prosperous cities of Central Russia: the country's first hospitals, schools and technical schools opened here; it was also taken as the basis for the planning of county cities in Russia in the 18th century. However, the city, which was not destroyed during the October Revolution and World War II, was badly damaged by the devastation of the 1990s after the collapse of the USSR, from which it could not recover yet. Over the past 10 years, he lost a quarter of the local population who left to work in Tver or Moscow; today, about 15,000 people live here. If you want to see and find out how the Russian population lives far from regional centers, then be sure to check out Ostashkov. Do not judge the city strictly, but rather, try to feel the quiet romance of the decrepit hinterland surrounded by dense forests and a calm lake. Undoubtedly, it will remain in your memory for a long time.
Although the Tver region is located very close to Moscow, it is radically different from it in everything: economy and infrastructure, transport and housing, nature and leisure, cultural heritage and folk traditions. If you want to see the real Russian wilderness (no negative connotation!), then go explore the Tver outback. In the local forests, luck will surely find you in the form of an old manor, a beautiful monastery or a forest grove on the river bank in the sunset rays of the sun ... or maybe you will even learn something new about yourself.
Welcome to the Tver region - the land of pristine nature, county-level cities, dilapidated wooden buildings and dull off-road, dipping headlong into the distant Russian past!