Magical History of Kostroma, a City Founded by Yuri Dolgoruky

Kostroma is an ancient city in Russia with a very rich historical background. It is the administrative center of the Kostroma region, a large port on the Volga. Kostroma is located 301 km northeast of Moscow, on the Kostroma Lowland, on both banks of the Volga and the old estuary of the Kostroma River. The distance from the Moscow Ring Road by road is 306 km with the total city area of 144.5 km². Here we will dig a bit deeper on the magical history of the city as one of the oldest part of Russia.

How the City Was Founded

The city of Kostroma was founded around 1152. The founder of Kostroma is Prince Yuri Dolgoruky. In Russian chronicles, the city is mentioned only in 1213, when during the feuds, Kostroma was ravaged and burned. In 1238, Kostroma was raided by the Tatar-Mongols. The period from 1272 to 1276 is due to the rise of the principality. It was so happened that Kostroma Prince Vasily Yaroslavich received the throne of Vladimir, but did not give up Kostroma possessions, and did everything for the benefit of his native land.

The Origin of the Name

It is worth saying a few words about the history of the name of the city. There are two versions, the origin of the word – Kostroma. First: the word Kostroma comes from the Finno-Ugric word “kostrum” – a fortress; the second is associated with paganism. Kostroma is the name of a pagan deity. At pagan holidays, Kostroma was depicted as a straw doll, a round dance was performed and danced near it, and then the doll was burned or dumped into the river. Paganism was strong in the villages around Kostroma. Rituals with a doll, they say, were carried out right up to the 19th century.

The Icon of Kostroma

Once, Kostroma Prince Vasily Kvashnya was hunting in the forest. During the hunt, the prince saw an icon on a pine tree. The Virgin Mary was depicted on the icon. The prince called priests from Kostroma, and they served a prayer service near the icon. The icon was placed in the church of the great martyr Theodore Stratelates. Priests found on the other side of the icon another image – the martyrs of Paraskeva Friday. Once, merchants who came to Kostroma from the city of Volzhsky entered the church where the icon was kept.

The merchants saw the icon, and said that before the invasion of the Tatar-Mongols, this image was in their city. This icon has since become a real Kostroma shrine. When in Russian cities, one after another, rebellions broke out against the Tatar tribute collectors, the Horde began to send punitive detachments. The Kostroma army went into battle with the icon, and won. Legend has it that the enemy was blinded by the bright light coming from the image.

Kostroma as an Economic City and its Time of Trouble

In the mid-14th century, Kostroma became part of the Moscow Principality. The city was an important trading base. The city on the Volga was not deprived of attention by either eastern or Russian merchants.  The river robbers more than once robbed Kostroma merchants. During a fire in 1413, 30 churches burned in Kostroma. Thanks to this historical fact, we can safely say that Kostroma was a large economically developed Russian city.

A difficult period in the history of Kostroma was from 1425 to 1450. In Russia there was a rivalry for supremacy over the Russian lands. And Kostroma was between the Moscow and Galician principality, competing with each other. Therefore, Kostroma was often robbed of both Moscow and the Galician princes. However, Kazan Tatars did not bypass Kostroma. During the Time of Troubles, Kostroma had a hard time. In 1608, a Polish detachment captured the city. In neighboring Galich, a popular uprising arose. Militias freed Galich, and then Kostroma. Soon the popular movement in Kostroma was suppressed. Poles led by Lisovsim moved to Galich.

A year later, a new militia knocked out the Poles from Kostroma. The survivors settled in the Ipatiev Monastery, the siege of which lasted more than six months. As a result, the monastery wall was blown up, and the Russians won. In 1612, the Polish interventionists were expelled from Russian lands. Kostroma was the patrimonial parish of the new Russian Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov. Kostroma land has repeatedly presented heroes to Russia.

The Historical Attractions of Kostroma

Among the attractions of Kostroma, there is a museum dedicated to the feat of Ivan Susanin, which is located in the village of Susanino, on Sovetskaya Street. You can also find the building of the Fire Tower, the Noble Assembly in which exhibits are presented telling about the life and customs of the local nobility, the Romanovsky Museum with icons and paintings. This wonderful complex is located on Prospekt Mira.

When you’re in the city, be sure to go to: “Kostroma settlement”, which is a museum of wooden architecture. Do not pass the Museum of Nature, where stuffed animals living in the Kostroma province are exhibited. Of great interest to tourists will be the Museum of Flax and Birch Bark.

Attractions of modern Kostroma are also pre-revolutionary buildings and wooden houses. There are many old wooden buildings on the streets of Ivanovskaya, Sverdlov, Shagov, Engels, Smiolenskaya and Lermontov. Among the attractions of Kostroma are also Orthodox churches and monastery.

Kostroma leaves the impression of a cozy, good-natured and hospitable Russian city with a unique local flavor and an abundance of interesting places of Russian antiquity. From Susanin Square, you can take a horse-drawn carriage and drive to the Epiphany-Anastasia Monastery. The road clearly does not remind you of the 21st century. You will find yourself in a real, pre-revolutionary, patriarchal Russian Empire where you can really feel the magical history of the city.

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