Veliky Ustyug is an ancient merchant town of the Russian North in the far northeast of Vologda Oblast. Russian tourists throng here in the winter, as it is home to Ded Moroz (Russian Santa Claus), but the architecture and history alone make this a destination worth seeking out.
This ancient Russian city lies at the confluence of the Sukhona and Yug rivers, for which it gets its name: Устюг = Устье Юга = Mouth of the Yug. It received its "Great" title was given to the city by tsar for historical and commercial significance. Ustyug lay on one of the most important routes for the conquest and development of the Komi-Perm lands, the Urals, and on to Siberia. Accordingly, it was the home and birthplace to many Russian explorers. Later, the importance of the city decreased significantly. Fortunately, Ustyug's excellent ecclesiastical architectural heritage escaped Soviet destruction and abuse, preserving its wealth of 18th-century sacred architecture in the northern Baroque style.
Despite being a tough place to get to, in the last ten to fifteen years the city has experienced a real tourist boom, albeit seasonal in nature. Ustyug has the fantastical distinction in Russia of being the home of Ded Moroz (Santa Claus), which brings in the family tourism in the winter. For lovers of history and architecture, as well as harsh, but beautiful northern nature, come instead in the summer. Expect an extremely interesting, informative, and memorable trip.
From Moscow you can take highway M8 through Rostov, Yaroslavl, Vologda, Kadnikov, then take the Chekshino exit to take the T7 to Veliky Ustyug via Totma. The condition of the road from Chekshino to Veliky Ustyug leaves much to be desired.
Almost every hour during the day there are buses to Kotlas (1.5 hours). To Vologda (6-7 hours) and Totma (2.5-3 hours), there is officially only one bus, and even then not every day, but minibuses are available, which require a reservation by phone to pick you up at your address; they are easy to find online.
3 Bus station, ул. Транспортная, 4 (At the north end of the town). 07:00–18:10. On all route signs and timetables, this stop is designated as "ПАТП". Local transport runs quite often.
There are a few bus routes, with rides costing 22 руб (2018), payment taken by the driver. Schedules and routes are displayed at stops. Route number 1 most often goes from the bus station ("ПАТП") through the city center to the shipyard. There are also some private minibuses.
- 1 Confluence of the Sukhona and Yug rivers. The confluence of the Sukhona and Yug rivers marks the beginning of the Northern Dvina River.
Veliky Ustyug has a rich, well preserved collection of religious architecture in the "Northern Baroque" style.
- 2 Cathedral Courtyard.
- 3 Cathedral of Procopius the Righteous (Собор Прокопия Праведного) (Действующий кафедральный собор). Saint Procopius the Righteous - a local saint of the Orthodox Church, lived in Veliky Ustyug in the 13th century, during which he famously predicted the fall of a meteorite near the town in 1290.
- 4 Cathedral of the Dormition (Успенский собор).
- 5 Church of John of Ustyug (Церковь Иоанна Устюжского). John of Ustyug was a "holy fool" in the 15th century.
- 6 Church of the Epiphany (Богоявленская церковь).
- 7 Bishop's house and Church of St. Alexey of Moscow (Архиерейский дом с церковью святителя Алексия Московского).
- 8 Mikhailo-Arkhangelsky Monastery (Михайло-Архангельский монастырь).
- 9 Church of the Transfiguration (Спасо-Преображенская церковь). A church of the former Monastery of the Transfiguration, which closed in 1764.
- 10 Stretensko-Transfiguration Church (Сретенско-Преображенская церковь). A church of the former Monastery of the Transfiguration, which closed in 1764.
- 11 Church of St. Michael the Archangel (Михаило-Архангельская церковь), ул. Городище. This church is located on the site of the first settlement of Ustyug. The Pokrovsky Monastery, which was closed in the 17th century, was also located here.
- 12 Church of the Ascension (Вознесенская церковь). 17th century.
- 13 Church of Simeon the Stylite (Церковь Симеона Столпника). A working church from the 18th century.
- 14 Church of St. Nicholas Gostunsky (Церковь Николы Гостунского).
- 15 Church of the Myrrhbearers (Церковь Жён-мироносиц).
- 16 Sretensko-Mironositskaya Church (Сретенско-Мироносицкая церковь).
- 17 Church of St. Elias (Ильинская церковь).
- 18 Church of St. George (Георгиевская церковь).
- 19 Pyatnitskaya Church (Пятницкая церковь).
- 20 Church of Leonty Rostovsky (Леонтьевская церковь).
- 21 Church of Stephen of Perm (Церковь Стефана Пермского). A working church at the cemetery. Stephen of Perm was a 14th-century painter from Ustyug whose missionary work is credited with the conversion to Christianity of the Komi people to the northeast.
- 22 Shilov's House (Дом Шилова).
- 23 Monument to Semyon Dezhnev. Semyon Dezhnev was a local explorer who helped open up the region of Yakutia to the Russian Empire, and was the first European to sail through the Bering Strait - some 100 years before Bering himself did!
- 24 Monument to Yerofey Khabarov. Monument to this local explorer, known for exploring the Amur Region of the Russian Far East.
- 25 Monument to Glory.
- 26 Bust of Admiral Kuznetsov.
- 27 Monument to Lenin.
- 28 Monument to Sergei Kirov.
- 29 Sculpture "Aquarius" (Скульптура «Водолей»). A fountain, upon which Aquarius merges rivers from jugs. The inscription: "Gray-haired Aquarius joins the two rivers. He joins the Sukhona and the Yug between the groves and fields."
- Museum of the History and Culture of Veliky Ustyug (Usov's House) (Музей истории и культуры Великого Устюга)
- Ethnography Museum (Church of St. Nicholas) (Музей этнографии)
- Old Russian Art Museum (Church of the Ascension) (Музей древнерусского искусства)
- Nature Museum (Музей природы)
- Children's Musem (Детский музейный центр)
- 2 Museum of New Year and Christmas Toys (Музей новогодней и рождественской игрушки) (Church of the Myrrhbearers).
- Preservation Foundation (Фондохранилище)
3 Niello Factory Museum (Музей завода «Северная чернь»), ☏ . Visit the exhibition hall of the factory where they produce artwork from "Northern Niello," a style of artwork dating to the Medieval period, made from a black mixture, primarily silver. There may be the option to do a master-class training. 100 руб.
4 Ded Moroz's House (dyehd Mahrohz) (Резиденция Деда Мороза), Советский пр., 85. The (fictitious) home of Ded Moroz, i.e, Father Frost - Russia's version of Santa Claus. This is a whimsical option and very child friendly. 100 руб..
- 8 Ded Moroz's Zoo (Зоопарк вотчины Деда Мороза). Can be visited without paying for entry to the Estate. Template:400.
- Products of the Velikoustyugskiy Uzory factory: weaving, carving, and "Tues" - decorative birch bark containers
- Veliky Ustyug black silver "niello" artwork
1 Romanov Cafe (Народное кафе «Романов»), Красный пер., 15, ☏ . 08:00-22:00. A comfortable and popular dining room with a non-alcoholic bar.
1 Club «Dezhnev», ул. Красноармейская, 6, ☏ .
- 1 Hotel Veliky Ustyug (Гостиница «Великий Устюг»), ул.Красноармейская, д.15.
- 2 Hotel Dvina (Гостиница «Двина»), Красная ул., д.104.
- 3 Hotel Postoyalets (Гостиница «Постоялецъ»).
- 4 Hotel Prokopyevskaya (Гостиница «Прокопьевская»).
- 5 Hotel Rozhdestvenskaya (Christmas Hotel) (Гостиница «Рождественская»).
- 6 Hotel Sukhona (Гостиница «Сухона»), пер. Красный, 12, ☏ .
- Totma — A small and far less visited town with similar ecclesiastical and secular architecture to Veliky Ustyug
- Lalsk — Along with Totma, this is a far off-the-beaten-path town with strong historical connections to Veliky Ustyug, with a similarly impressive architectural heritage