Vologda (Russian: Вологда; IPA: [ˈvoləɡdə]) is a city and the administrative, cultural, and scientific center of Vologda Oblast, Russia, located on the Vologda River. Population: 301,755 (2010 Census); 293,046 (2002 Census); 282,802 (1989 Census).
The city serves as a major transport hub of the Northwest of Russia. Vologda has been classified by the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation as a historical city, one of the forty-one in Russia and one of only three in Vologda Oblast. 224 buildings in Vologda have been officially recognized as cultural heritage monuments.
1147 is the official date first fixed in 1780 by Alexey Zasetsky in his book «Stories about miracles of Gerasimus of Vologda». The story mentions that in 1147 the Trinity Monastery was founded close to the Vologda River. The date of the foundation of the monastery is then taken as the date of the foundation of the city of Vologda and is mentioned in official city documents. This date, which would make Vologda to be of the same age as Moscow, is, however, not supported by any scientific data and is considered by authoritative sources to be fictional. The story was only written in 1666 by certain Foma, who got a request from Archbishop Markel to produce the vita of Gerasimus. Foma himself admitted that he had no sufficient data on the biography. The story contains many contradicting details. Besides, the monastic life in the Russian North was not known in the 12th century: the first monastery in Vladimir was founded in 1152, in Rostov–in 1212, in the Belozersk area–in 1251. Archeological excavations do not confirm this date either. Instead, they demonstrate that the city of Vologda was founded in the 13th century.
1264 is the year of the first mention of Vologda. Under this year, Vologodskaya Volost is mentioned in the list of suburban possessions of the Novgorod Republic in the agreement between the Republic and the Grand Prince of Russia. This date is also supported by archaeological data.
The nucleus of Vologda in the 13th century was not located in the are which is now the city center, but rather the area known now as «Lazy ground» (Ленивая площадка), close to the Resurrection church was settled down. This area was the center of Vologda up to 1565. Until that year, no stone constructions existed in Vologda: all of the city fortifications, bridges, houses, churches, and industrial enterprises were made of wood.
Before the 16th century
The unique position of Vologda on important waterways connecting Moscow, Novgorod, and the White Sea (via the Northern Dvina) made it attractive for the Novgorod Republic, as well as for the princes of the Tver and the Moscow, who fought numerous wars between the 13th and the 15th centuries.
In 1371, Dmitry Prilutsky, a monk from the Nikolsky Monastery in Pereslavl-Zalessky, founded Nikolsky Monastery, now known as Spaso-Prilutsky Monastery, close to the city. Dmitry Donskoy, the Grand Prince of Moscow, was the chief benefactor of the monastery and viewed it as a stronghold of the influence of the Grand Duchy of Moscow in the Northern lands in competition with Novgorod.
In 1397, during the reign of Vasily I, Vologda was added to the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Subsequently, the city was several times attacked by Novgorod forces. During the Muscovite Civil War, Vologda played a key role. After Vasily II the Blind, the Grand Prince of Moscow, was defeated by Dmitry Shemyaka in 1447, he swore to never start a war against Shemyaka, was exiled to Vologda, and got the city as a personal possession. From there Vasily traveled to the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery where the hegumen released him from the oath. The civil war continued, and in 1450, Vologda was besieged by the troops of Dmitry Shemyaka; however, they did not manage to occupy the town.
After the death of Vasily in 1462, Vologda passed to the possession of his son Andrey Menshoy and became the center of the Principality of Vologda. In 1481, after the death of Andrey who had no successors, Vologda passed to Ivan III, the Grand Duke of Moscow, and was included to the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
Times of Ivan the Terrible
During the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, Vologda became one of the major transit centers of Russia’s trade. The foreign trade was conducted mostly with England, Holland, and other western countries via the White Sea. Arkhangelsk was the major foreign trade haven, and Vologda stood on the waterway connecting Moscow with Arkhangelsk. The trade with Siberia was conducted via the Sukhona and the Vychegda Rivers, and Vologda also played an important role as a transit center. The state courtyard was built in the city on the bank of the Vologda River. In 1553, Vologda was visited by the English seafarer Richard Chancellor who officially established diplomatic relations between the Tsardom of Russia and England. In 1554, trading agent John Gass described Vologda to English merchants as a city with an abundance of bread where the goods were twice as cheap as in Moscow and Novgorod, and that there was no city in Russia that would not trade with Vologda. Following the reports of John Gass, in 1555 England opened a trading office in the city, and the first Russian ambassador sent to England for negotiations became Osip Nepeya, a native of Vologda.
In 1565, Ivan the Terrible introduced the policy of Oprichnina and included Vologda into the structure of Oprichnina lands. That year, he visited the city for the first time and decided to make it the center of Oprichnina and consequently the capital of the country. The Tsar ordered to build a new fortress. It was decided to build it not in the former town center, but rather in another part of the town, limited on the one side by the river, and on the other side by what are now Leningradskaya, Oktyabrskaya, and Mira Streets. The fortress was surrounded by a moat. Ivan the Terrible traveled to Vologda in person to supervise the foundation of the fortress on April 28, 1566, which was the day to celebrate the memory of Saint Jason (Nason in Russian tradition) and Saint Sosipater. Therefore the territory of the fortress located in the new part of Vologda was named the «Nason-gorod» (Nason-town). The other name of the Nason-gorod was the Vologda Kremlin (currently the name is sometimes referred only to the Bishop’s courtyard).
Between 1568 and 1570, a new cathedral was built in the new fortress. The Saint Sophia Cathedral became the first stone building in Vologda. The design of the cathedral copied the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. This was the idea of Ivan the Terrible who wanted to make his new capital similar to Moscow. He personally supervised the construction, headed by the architect Razmysl Petrov. In 1571, Vologda became the center of the Diocese of Vologda and Perm that was formed in 1492 and previously had its main church in the distant settlement of Ust-Vym in Perm lands. Thereby, Vologda was strengthened not only in trading, military and political influence, but also in ecclesiastical affairs.
However, in 1571 Ivan the Terrible unexpectedly stopped the construction work in Vologda and left the city for good. Presumably, this was connected with his decision to abolish Oprichnina, and Vologda was not needed as the second capital any longer. According to the legend, when Ivan visited the Saint Sophia Cathedral, a little stone fell from the roof on his head. The superstitious Tsar who received a serious head injury took it as an sign of misfortune and decided to leave the city. In any case, it is known that the Tsar wanted even to demolish the cathedral, and that the cathedral was never consecrated during his lifetime. The consecration took place only during the reign his son Feodor I in 1587. Parts of the incomplete fortress which were later in the 17th century strengthened with wooden walls stayed up to the 19th century when they were disassembled by the city authorities and local residents and used as a material for stone building.
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles for Vologda began with a plague epidemic in 1605. In 1608, when Russia was split into areas controlled by Tsar Vasily Shuysky and area controlled by the pretender False Dmitry II supported by Polish troops, the people of Vologda made an oath to False Dmitry. By gaining Vologda not only did he get the control over Russian and English trading warehouses, but also opened all the possibilities to conquer the Northern Russia. However, the new administration sent to Vologda caused extreme discontent of the population by abuse and boundless requisitions. As a result, Vologda denounced False Dmitry II and supported Shuysky. Moreover, in February 1609 a national home guard headed by Nikita Vysheslavtsev was formed in Vologda and went to fight against False Dmitry II.
In 1612, people of Vologda rendered sizable food and military help to the home guard organized by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, which eventually defeated Polish troops. However, after the city sent huge military forces to support the second home guard, it remained without sufficient protection, and on September 22, 1612 one of the Lithuanian extortionate groups seized Vologda without effort. Then the city was burned down, and many inhabitants were killed or taken prisoner.
After 1613, Vologda quickly recovered due to its convenient location and once again became an important center of foreign trade. During the reign of Peter the Great, Vologda became one of the main military bases of Russia. Military and technical equipment for fortresses and military ships under construction was stored there. Vessels which delivered food supplies to Arkhangelsk were constructed in Vologda. Peter intended to hold them on Lake Kubenskoye, 30 kilometers (19 mi) north of Vologda. However, after personally inspecting the lake in 1692, he abandoned the idea deciding that the lake is improper for that purpose.
Peter the Great visited Vologda on no less than ten occasions, on six of which (in 1692, 1693, 1694, 1702, 1722, and 1724) he stayed in the city for extended time. He always stayed in a small house of the Dutch merchant Goutman, which in 1872 was bought by the city authorities, and in 1885 was transformed into the memorial museum of Peter the Great and became the first museum of Vologda.
However, after St. Petersburg was founded and foreign trade was rerouted to the Baltic Sea, the importance of Vologda as a center of foreign trade decayed. In 1722, Peter issued the decree restricting trade through Arkhangelsk, which damaged Vologda even further. In the course of the administrative reform carried out in 1708, Vologda lost its functions as an administrative center and was included as a town of Archangelgorod Governorate.
The revival began only during the reign of Catherine the Great who in 1780 made Vologda the center of Vologda Viceroyalty, a successor of Archangelgorod Governorate. In 1796, the viceroyalty, administered by a governor-general, was transformed into Vologda Governorate, the borders of which stretched up to the Ural mountains in the east. The center of Vologda was rebuilt according to the plan of a provincial city issued in 1781. The street network is still in use now.
A new economic lifting of the city was connected with a steamship movement across the Sukhona River and with the building of a new railroad line connecting Vologda with Yaroslavl and Moscow (1872), with Arkhangelsk (1898), with St. Petersburg and Vyatka (1905).
In 1871, the Danish merchant Friedrich Buman opened a specialized butter factory in the manor of Fominskoye, 13 kilometers (8.1 mi) from Vologda. It was the first butter factory both in Vologda Governorate and in Russia. Since then Vologda became the center of the butter industry, and the Vologda butter, a special type of butter with the taste of nuts invented by Nikolay Vereschagin and Buman, became a world trademark. In 1911, the manor of Fominskoye together with the Buman’s creamery was given to the state and became the base for the Vologda dairy institute. Thereby Vologda turned to one of the largest dairy centers of Russia.
Since the 15th century, Vologda was a political exile destination and was even known as «Siberia close to the capital». In the 19th–20th centuries, such persons as Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov (later the Minister of Foreign Affairs), Nikolai Berdyaev (the famous Russian philosopher), Boris Savinkov (later known as a successful terrorist), Mariya Ulyanova, and Alexander Bogdanov were sent to Vologda. Anatoly Lunacharsky chose to go there to join Bogdanov, and to marry Anna Alexandrovna Malinovskaya, Bogdanov’s sister.
The Soviet power was established in Vologda only in December 1917 and up to summer of 1918 co-existed with the zemstvo and municipal administration. In February 1918, Vologda became a «diplomatic capital of Russia» for several months. The embassies located in Saint Petersburg came under a threat of being seized by the German army. Therefore the Western powers, led by the American ambassador David R. Francis, relocated the embassies to Vologda. However, under the pressure of Bolsheviks, on July 24, 1918 the diplomats were compelled to leave Vologda and go to their home countries via Arkhangelsk.
During the Russian Civil War, Vologda was the location of the headquarters of the 6th Red Army. The army opposed the White Army under command of Evgeny Miller and the military forces of Entente in the north of Russia.
In 1929, Vologda Governorate was abolished and included into the structure of a new formation, Northern Krai, which also included former Arkhangelsk and Northern Dvina Governorates, as well as the Komi-Zyryan Autonomous Oblast. The administrative center of Northern Krai was located in Arkhangelsk. In December 1936, Northern Krai was abolished and divided into the Komi ASSR and Northern Oblast, with the administrative center still located in Arkhangelsk. On September 23, 1937, Northern Oblast was divided into Arkhangelsk Oblast and Vologda Oblast by the decision of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union. According to the same decision, districts of former Cherepovets Okrug of Leningrad Oblast were attached to Vologda Oblast. These districts currently make for the western part of Vologda Oblast. Thereby the current borders of Vologda Oblast were determined.
In the 1930s, a flax factory, a coach-repair factory, and sawmill «Northern Communard», were constructed.
During World War II, the martial law was introduced in Vologda, and the industrial enterprises shifted to military production. In the fall of 1941, Finnish troops crossed the borders of Vologda Oblast, and Vologda thus became a front city. The inhabitants were mobilized to dig trenches. In the city, bomb-proof shelters and elementary shelters were under construction, systems of air defense which protected the railway junction and the military-industrial enterprises were developed. As a result, though attempts of bombardments were numerous, no bombs fell on the city. To commemorate these events, a monument to the air defense forces was later erected on Zosimovskaya Street in Vologda. The monument has the shape of an anti-aircraft gun. In addition, Vologda was a railway hub used to supply the army and to evacuate equipment. It also served as a large hospital center. Residents of Vologda donated blood, money, and jewellery. The tank detachment «Vologda Collective Farmer» was funded by these donations. To commemorate these events the monument to the tank T-34 was built on Mira Street.
Between 1961 and 1985, Anatoly Drygin was the first secretary of the CPSU Vologda Oblast Committee and the head of the oblast. During this period, notable changes in many aspects of economy both of the city and of the oblast occurred. In particular, the bearing plant, the mechanical plant, and the optical and mechanical factory were built in Vologda, as well as a big poultry farm, and the polytechnical university was opened. The large-scale construction program was carried out, and, in particular, the first buildings higher than five floors were constructed. The city expanded, with new residential areas built; in particular, Byvalovo, GPZ, the 5th and the 6th Microdistricts. In 1976, the Vologda trolleybus system opened.
In November 1991, the city administration was formed and the reform of local governments began. In October 1993, the Soviets of People’s Deputies of all levels were abolished. After the dissolution of the Vologda Soviet, the City Duma was established. The first Duma elections took place on March 20, 1994. This first Duma only had six seats, but in 1995, after the next elections, it was expanded to thirty deputies.
On July 25, 1996, the City Duma adopted the main city document: the Charter of Vologda. On October 6, 1996, the first mayoral elections in the history of Vologda took place. Alexey Yakunichev was elected and became the head of the city. His term ended in 2008.
In 2003, the construction of a ring road started. Before that, the М8 highway connecting Moscow and Arkhangelsk run through the city center causing congestion. After the completion, the ring road connects the highways А114 (Vologda – Novaya Ladoga), Р5 (Vologda – Medvezhyegorsk), and М8 (Moscow – Arkhangelsk). On August 25, 2005, the City Duma approved the new Charter of Vologda. Even though the deputies introduced more than four hundred amendments and the document increased more than twice in volume as compared with the Charter of 1996, the changes were relatively minor. On October 12, 2008, Yevgeny Shulepov was elected to be the new City Head.