Tutaev is a real gem among ancient Russian cities which are situated on the longest river in Europe – the Volga River.

In fact, Tutaev consists of two smaller towns which are located on the opposite banks of the Volga River. Formerly they were called Romanov (the town on the left Volga River bank) and Borisoglebsk (the town on its right bank).

Tutaev is also mentioned in the advanced list of the Golden Ring of Russia.

The history of Tutaev

Tutaev acquired its current name not so long ago. The Bolshevik Revolution triggered the mechanism of mass renaming. In 1918, Romanov-Borisoglebsk was renamed Tutaev in honor of the young Red Army soldier who had perished there.

Romanov is believed to be founded in 1370. The Yaroslavl Prince Roman Vasilievich ordered to found there a fortified settlement. Without a second thought he decided to name the town after himself.

Later Romanov was included into the growing Muscovite state and became famous for building efficient river craft.

In 1563, Ivan IV (the Terrible) gave Romanov to the Tatars. They had been controlling the town for two centuries and built there many minarets which obstruct the bell towers of Russian Orthodox churches. However, all the Tatars were expelled from Romanov and their minarets were destroyed.

The town Borisoglebsk was founded much later, in the end of the 15th century. Initially, there had been the church in honor of Russian Princes Boris and Gleb consecrated to saints (unfortunately, it had not stood the test of time). The surrounding territory became inhabited by fishermen and eventually turned into the town under the name Borisoglebsk.

Two towns Romanov and Borisoglebsk were officially united and renamed Romanov-Borisoglebsk in 1822.

Must-sees in Tutaev

If you happen to visit Tutaev during winter, then you should stick to one of its parts, either Romanov or Borisoglebsk. Water discharge from the nearest artificial reservoir causes ice ridges which make it impossible to cross the Volga River. Furthermore, there is no bridge over the river. In spring, summer and fall you can get to the opposite bank by ferry.


The store in Tutaev with the sign “Khleb” (“Bread”)

The Host Resurrection Cathedral

The Host Resurrection Cathedral (1652-1678) was built in the exact place where the Church of Boris and Gleb had been situated. The cathedral is one of two religious buildings which are located on the right Volga River bank, in Borisoglebsk. The Host Resurrection Cathedral is regarded as the most beautiful sight in the town. Being a stunning representation of the traditional Yaroslavl architecture, the cathedral amazes visitors with its grand exterior. There are plenty of decorative patterns, wonderful tiles and breathtaking façade paintings.


The Host Resurrection Cathedral as it is seen from the opposite bank of the Volga River

You should definitely take a look inside the cathedral. Since the Host Resurrection Cathedral functioned even in the USSR, its interior was left intact.

It is widely acknowledged that the interior of the Host Resurrection Cathedral is even more impressive than its exterior and it bears a great resemblance to churches in Moscow. When the cathedral was built, many relics and adornments from ancient wooden churches were moved there.

Special attention should be given to the frescoes which depict the crucial Biblical scenes. Carved wooden sculpture and other decorative elements should also be admired.

The Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was built in 1658. According to the legend, the church served as a prison for one of Avvakum’s (the protopope leading the opposition to Patriarch Nikon’s church reforms) followers.

Although its frescoes are glorious, they embrace many non-canonical details.


The Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The historical center of Tutaev lies on the right Volga River bank. Its sloped hills are built-up with one-storey wooden houses. Take a walk around the oldest part of the town.


Boris Kustodiev. Promenade along the Volga River (1909)


Boris Kustodiev. Promenade along the Volga River (1909)

The Romanov sheep breed

Before the Revolution of 1917, Tutaev (Romanov-Borisoglebsk) was known as an industrial center producing ship skin. The economic benefit of this field was based upon breeding of the Romanov sheep. Nowadays this sheep is quite popular among Russian and foreign stock-breeders.

Shuvalov’s bells

Tutaev serves as a residence for the famous Russian craftsman Shuvalov who has casted more than ten thousand bells. It is probably the only master in Russia who works in accordance with the ancient technology. You may be interested in visiting his blacksmith shop.

Souvenirs from Tutaev

While being in Tutaev, buy some souvenirs made of sheep skin or famous bells (consider buying bells no cheaper than $10 and always try them ringing!). 

When planning your visit to Tutaev consider the season. Choose the part of the town you will go to and you will not get disappointed if you do not manage to cross the Volga River in winter.

Photos by Todd Prince

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