Uglich

Uglich is a town in the Yaroslavl province, a river port and a railway station. It produces clocks, watches, cheese and other milk products. Heavy machinery is repaired here. There is a hydroelectric station. The population numbers 39,000. The town has a museum of art and history.


The name of Uglich is a derivative of “ugol” (“a corner”). The Volga makes a sharp bend at this place, forming a corner, or “ugol”, hence the name.

Founded as early as 937, it was first mentioned in chronicles only in 1148. A local legend says that the town existed in the days of Holy Princess Olga, Equal-to-the Apostoles. It served as the capital of the Uglich principality from 1218 till 1238 when it was seized and devastated by the Mongols who killed most of its population. The rest were taken prisoners or fled to the dense forest surrounding the town. In the 14th century Moscow began uniting Russian lands and Uglich was annexed to the Moscow principality. In 1371 it was burnt to ashes by the prince of Tver who struggled with Moscow for supremacy.

In the 15th century the town prospered and even coined its own money. After Ivan the Terrible’s death, his son Prince (Tsarevich) Dimitry, the last in the Rurik dynasty, was sent to Uglich with his mother and was killed here at the age of eight in 1591 in uncertain circumstances. His death was not only a tragedy for his family, it was followed by many troubles in Russia, such as internecine conflicts and a Polish invasion. Three false pretenders to the Moscovite throne (one after another) claimed to be Prince Dimitry. They are known as False Dimitrys.


In 1606 the prince was canonized and his relics were tranferred to the Archangel Cathedral in Moscow.

In 1611 Polish invadors destroyed the town and massacred its population. After the disaster the town was restored slowly. The process was hindered by the decree of Peter I forbidding stone constructions anywhere but in St. Petersburg. The emperor also ordered removing the bells from the churches of Uglich, melting them to make cannons because Russia was at war with Sweden. During Catherine II’s reign the town grew rapidly and flourished.

In the 19th century its citizens led tranquil, yet cultured provincial life. A museum, a library and a theater were opened here.

The 1917 revolution changed the course of the town’s history. It was serously damaged by construction of the hydro-electic stations in the 1930s. The Intercession Monastery, a major architectural sight in the south western part, and other churches and buildings dating from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries were blown up and then flooded. The huge structure of the hydroelectric station stands on the former monastery site today.

A team of restorers has been working in the town’s historical center since 1952. As a result, many old buildings have been saved from destruction. According to the plan for Uglich’s development and construction, recently approved by the local authorities, its historical center will be preserved intact.

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