Vologda region, where Beloye Lake and the town of Belozersk are located is one of the oldest Russian regions. Russia is a multinational country, while the Vologda region has the highest percentage of Russians among all Russian regions – 97.27%.
Vologda region is located in the northern part of the European part of Russia. Only the Arkhangelsk region is to the north of it, which borders the Vologda region.
Beloye Lake is located in the northwestern part of the Vologda region. This is one of the most beautiful lakes in the north-west Russia. Beloye Lake is among the ten largest lakes in Europe.
After the founding of the city of St. Petersburg on the banks of the Neva River, which became the capital of the Russian Empire, the city needed a lot of cargo.
In those days, the only affordable way to deliver large cargo was by water. To connect the then Russian capital of St. Petersburg and Northern Europe (the Baltic Sea) with central Russia (the Volga River) the Mariinsk Canal System was built, part of which became the Beloye Lake. Today, the reconstructed Mariinsk Canal System is called the Volga-Baltic Waterway, and because of the frequent stormy weather in the Beloye Lake a special bypassing channel was made around the lake. Volga-Baltic Waterway supplies, for example, steel and wheat to Europe and around the world to this day, although the competition from the railway is extremely high.
Mariinsky Canal System. Gatekeeper P. Karlinsky, 84 years old, 66 years in the service (1909) / Photographer – Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (Russia) / Library of the USA Congress ppmsc.03966.
Belozersk – Where Are You
Around the Beloye Lake there were found more than a hundred sites of the Mesolithic period. Russians inhabited the territories around Beloye Lake in two directions – from the direction of the city of Novgorod, and from the south. In any case, the movement happened along the rivers.
The city of Belozersk was mentioned in chronicles of the year 862 under the name of “Beloozero”. Belozersk is the oldest city in the Russian North.
Originally, the city was located on the north shore of the Beloye Lake. From the chronicles we know that the governor of the city was an invited Viking Sineus (in Russian it sounds literally as “blue mustache”). After his death, the city was ruled by his brother Truvor, and then –another brother, the famous Varangian Rurik. Then the city was from one Russian prince to another, until in 1097 it came under the control of the Russian Prince Vladimir Monomakh.
Plague epidemic during the Middle Ages, as well as the expansion of the Beloye Lake forced the city to be moved. Previously, the cities in the Russian North were made of wood and did not have underground communication lines, making transfer of cities within several dozen kilometers a relatively simple and not too time consuming affair. The city of Belozersk was moved to different places on the Beloye Lake at least twice.
Around 1363 the city was moved to its current location. Finding the city in the north of Russia among numerous swamps and rivers protected the city from the Mongol invasion. Tatars simply could not reach the city. The city gave shelter to numerous refugees fleeing from Tatar raids.
What You Should Definitely See in Belozersk and Beloye Lake
Of course, the Beloye Lake surroundings are very picturesque – a real Russian North.
Earth Mounds in Belozersk
In 1487 around Belozersk huge earth mounds of up to 30 (!) meters high were made. These impressive mounds are still there. Next to the mounds a deep moat was dug out and filled with water. On top of earth mounds a wooden fortress was placed with seven towers, two of which had gates. The fortress was dismantled due to decay in the middle of the 18thcentury.
Bridge over the Moat in Belozersk
A beautiful three-arch bridge from the first half of the 19th century was built across the dried moat, which by that time had lost its military significance.
Winter in Belozersk. Bridge over the old moat