Kotelnich (Russian: Котельнич) is a small town in the western part of Kirov Oblast. Most travelers will only see Kotelnich from the train when going along the Trans-Siberian route. Those who decide to stop by, though, may enjoy the sleepy town and the gorgeous paleontology museum that boasts skeletons of dinosaurs discovered in the nearby excavations.
First mentioned in chronicles in 1459, Kotelnich rapidly became a trade town renowned for its Alexeyevskaya Fair that was held for nearly 300 years until mid-19th century. In early 20th century, Kotelnich became a station of the Trans-Siberian railway and eventually became an important junction where two branches of this railway (from Nizhny Novgorod and from Yaroslavl) meet.
The town is also famous for its excavations of dinosaurs on the banks of the Vyatka River.
Kotelnich has a distinct outlook because of the apocalyptic blaze of 1926 which levelled nearly all wooden buildings in the city. It was rebuilt in early 20th century Soviet architecture, a brutalist style that is still easily recognisable.
Kotelnich has two train stations. The main hub, Kotelnich-1, is 1 km north of the town center. The ugly station building is more rewarding from inside; its abundant signposts are even translated into English. All local trains and most long-distance trains stop here. Check the actual timetable online or call +7 (83342) 4-07-00, 9-23-00. Kotelnich-2 station is hardly used by anyone because it is in the suburbs and served by infrequent local trains in the direction of Nizhny Novgorod, only.
Kotelnich is served by numerous long-distance trains that run along the Trans-Siberian Railway toward Kirov, Perm, and Ekaterinburg as well as Siberian destinations. Some of the fast trains do not stop here. Travel time from Moscow is 13–15 hr, from Saint Petersburg 19–20 hr, from Nizhny Novgorod 5 hr, from Kirov 1–1.5 hr.
Local trains in the direction of Kirov depart every 2 hours and reach their destination in about 2 hours (compare to only 1–1.5 hours by long-distance trains). Other local trains are very infrequent and hardly useful for any travel.
Take any of the three roads: P157 from Kirov (119 km), P159 from Yaransk (135 km), or an unnamed road from Sharya in Kostroma Oblast (167 km). The distance from Nizhny Novgorod is about 500 km along P159, either via Yaransk or via Sharya.
Bus station (open 5:30–21:00) abuts the train station Kotelnich-1. Information: +7 (83342) 4-19-73, 4-19-53 (booking office), 4-16-64 (bus company). The only feasible option is the bus to Yaransk 6-7 times a day. Other destinations include the small towns of Orlov and Sovetsk (2 times a day).
The main street is Sovetskaya which runs roughly parallel to the Vyatka river bank. Most of the tourist sights and points of interest are in the immediate vicinity of Sovetskaya.
- 1 Alexander Nevsky Church, Rechnaya St (embankment of the Vyatka River west of the town center). This cemetery church is in a sorry state. After deconsecration and years of oblivion, it is still used as a storage room and remains inaccessible to public. Peek around the fence to watch fine stone carvings adorning the walls and windows frames.
- 2 Alexiy Chapel, Staroe Gorodische St (south of the center). A small wooden chapel built in 2009 on the hill above the Vyatka River. It offers panoramic views over the river and railway bridge and, likewise, can be seen from the trains running along the Trans-Siberian route.
- City museum, 3 Lenina St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Regular city museum with a few antiquities, some old furniture, and a big collection of stuffed animals. Nothing fancy.
- 3 Dinopark (park area between Sovetskaya St. and Lenina St.). This unkempt area has been transformed into a decent park decorated with life-size dinosaurs (nothing to worry about, they are not alive... yet).
- 4 Paleontology museum, 22 Karla Marksa St, ☏ . M–F 9:00–17:00, Sa 09:00–15:00. Two rooms of this small museum are literally brimmed with exhibits that were all excavated in Kotelnich. Enjoy benign dinosaurs and explore their history recorded in detail in the information boxes (Russian only). You can also experience everyday routine of a paleontologist by manipulating a brush and excavating a dinosaur in a box of sand. This simple procedure is thrilling for children and adults alike. 100 руб.
- 5 St. Nicholas Church, 22 Shmidta St. This neoclassical church was built between 1850 and 1900, deconsecrated after 1917, and reconsecrated in the 2000s. Although the bell-tower vanished during the USSR period, the small white-blue building still looks pretty. Don't miss the adjacent library where decent copies of the destroyed Kotelnich churches are kept.
- Vernacular buildings belong to different periods and styles. The typical 19th-century buildings can be seen in the town center along Sovetskaya, Lenina, and Oktyabrskaya streets. More rewarding, though, are minuscule Constructivist houses from the 1920s. They were built after the big fire of 1926 that destroyed most wooden buildings in Kotelnich. Check the department store at 103 Sovetskaya St. and the post office at 90 Karla Marksa St.
- Alexeyevskaya Fair (Алексеевская ярмарка) is a traditional event taking place annually on the last week of March.
- Town market is at the junction of Sovetskaya and Kirova streets.
- 1 Store #5 (закусочная «В Пятом магазине»), 139 Sovetskaya St. A classical ryumochnaya where you get cheap salads and pelmeni, wash them down with several mugs of beer and polish everything with few shots of vodka. Not safe in the evening, though.
- 2 Perekrostok, along outer bypass, ☏ . This place has pretty sumptuous home-cooked meals and a buffet for the hungry tourist. Maybe have a chat with a Russian trucker while you're there.
- 3 Raduga, Avtodoroga Vyatka, 129. Another roadside cafe where you can try some cutlet or white bread maybe and not get on anyone's bad side.
- 4 Staryy Gorod, Ulitsa Lenina, 5, ☏ . Serves a variety of different plates like sushi to standard Russian fare.
- Tary-Bary (Тары-Бары), 136 Sovetskaya St.
- Tsentralnaya Inn, Ulitsa Lunacharskogo, 93, ☏ . This is a pleasant stay in a dorm-type place with a kitchen and foozball table/ 1399 руб/person.
- Hotel "Comfort" (Гостиница «Уют», гостиница мебельной фабрики), 9 Pobedy St (west of the town center), ☏ . Unlike other Kotelnich hotels, this one gets some positive reviews on the web. Its cafeteria serves decent breakfasts and lunches. Shared WC: 500 руб/person, en-suite: 700 руб/person.
- Kirov — center of the region and a very interesting city with lots of old churches, gorgeous vernacular buildings, and fascinating museums
- Yaransk — dreary town boasting several old churches
|Routes through Kotelnich|
|Moscow ← Nizhny Novgorod ←||W E||→ Kirov → Yekaterinburg|