Totma is one of the ancient Russian cities, an administrative center of Totma municipality of Vologda Oblast. It is situated on the bank of the Sukhona River, 215 km off Vologda. Population – 9 862 people.
The first information about Totma dated back to 1137. The city repelled the attacks of Kazan Tatars, went into battle with the Polish invaders and witnessed the oprichnina of Ivan the Terrible and peasants’ rebellions.
In 1780 Totma became a district city of Vologda province. A black Aleut fox in the gold field is placed in the city coat of arms as the city inhabitants hunted fur-bearing animals. Totma is called as a city of navigators. More than 20 expeditions were equipped to the Pacific Ocean by Totma merchants who exported 1/5th of all the fur skins got during half a century to Europe.
During the expeditions many geographical openings were made, some islands were charted. The name of the Totma navigator Ivan Kuskov who reached the banks of America in 1789 is connected with activity of Russian-American company. Under his guide a famous Russian settlement Fort-Ross was founded close to San-Francisco.
Due to sea trips big assets flew to Totma. Many Totma churches were built on means received from fur-skins trade.
At the beginning of the XX century there were 17 stone churches in Totma. Five of them are still remained: Church of the Entry to Jerusalem, Assumption Church, the Voskresenskiy Cathedral, the Christmas Church and the Trinity Church.
The economic prosperity of Totma was connected not only with the exploration of new lands but with development of saltworks. The owners of salt trades were Vologda monasteries including Spaso-Prilutskiy monastery and rich peasants until the Spaso-Sumorin monastery bought the right for a duty-free production and trade of salt and expanded its production.
In XVIII century the salt production lost its importance after the salt lakes were explored in the south of the country. By 1915 the salt production was oriented to the local market.
The life of the city and trade was connected with the Sukhona River. In the mediaeval times Russian and foreign ships – from England, Holland and Persia -moored to Totma. They traded bread and salt, furs and flax, timber and wax; at the beginning of the XX century – household utensils and toys. Totma toys became known in Paris, Berlin and the Netherlands, and in press Totma was called as Russian Nurnberg – a city of toy-makers.
In Totma local lore museum there is a rich collection of handicrafts and everyday utensils: enamel, silver niello, wood and birch-bark carving, painting on wood, embroidery and art treatment of metal. Besides the local lore museum there is Museum to Nikolay Rubtsov – a famous Russian poet, inhabitant of Totma; Museum of Navigators, Museum of Church antiques, the exhibitions from stocks of Spaso-Sumorin monastery, House-Museum of Ivan Kuskov – the first museum of Russian America in Russia, Museum-Exhibition Center «Na Bolshoy Sadovoy» and Center of interactive programs «Moroshka».
Totma is among Russian cities with valuable historical heritage.