Vologda is one of the ancient Russian cities. Since September 23, 1937 it is an administrative, cultural and scientific center of Vologda Oblast. The city is situated on the bank of the Vologda River. Important railways – from Moscow to Arkhangelsk and Vorkuta and from Vologda to Saint-Petersburg – intersect in Vologda. The national highway M8 Moscow-Arkhangelsk passes through Vologda. The number of population is 316 thousand people.
Vologda is founded in 1147. This year is mentioned in the biography of St. Gerasimus who after coming from Kiev founded the monastery by the Vologda River that gave the start for the big city.
The favorable geographic position of Vologda on the intersection of waterways made the city the place of internecine wars between Novgorod and Moscow in the XIII-XV centuries. Only at the end of the XIV century Vologda became a part of Moscow princedom. Since that time the city became an independent principality of Moscow princes.
Wooden fortifications and bridges, houses and churches, trade and production premises were built. In 1565 Ivan the Terrible started construction of a wooden city in the down-city trading quarter – the Vologda Kremlin with St.Sophia Cathedral.
Important period of prosperity and strengthening of Vologda is connected with the rule of Ivan the Terrible. First of all, the city became one of the important transit centers in foreign trade of Russia with England, Holland and other western countries along the White Sea trade route and the Siberia. The foreigners opened their trade offices and good yards.
Ivan the Terrible visited Vologda several times. Feeling in greater safety in the north he decided to build here his new residence – a capital of oprichnina. Liquidation of oprichnina changed the plans of Ivan the Terrible concerning Vologda.
In the Time of Trouble Vologda and its suburbs were ravaged by Polish and Lithuanian invaders. After the Romanovs came to rule Vologda experienced a new rise. The city became one of the main markets trading bread, salt and agricultural products. Foreign trade of Moscow state with western countries went through Vologda. Flax processing, tanning industry, timber processing, blacksmith’s industry were actively developed.
Since the middle of XVI century up to the end of XVIII century the city was situated on the both banks of the river for a distance of 5 kilometers. It was consisted of the Kremlin and three trading quarters. The Kremlin was a military, administrative, trading and spiritual center of the city, of the district and the Vologda eparchy.
Under Peter the Great, who visited the city 5 times, the city became one of the main state military bases of the country. Military and technical equipment for the future fortresses and military ships was kept here. Merchant ships for delivery of food to Arkhangelsk were built. Rope production was developed.
By the edict of Katherine the Great in 1780 Vologda became the center of the Vologda district and then – the Vologda province. In XIX century Vologda obtained its historical appearance that is typical to Vologda of nowadays. Stone and wooden manors, administrative buildings built in last century decorate the city even now. Construction of railways that connected Vologda with Moscow, Yaroslavl, Arkhangelsk and Petersburg promoted development of the city.
During a long period of history Vologda was a place of political exile. Since the XIX century the exiled among whom there were the outstanding politicians, literary men, scientists influenced the political, public and cultural life of the region.
During the World War II the city was on a martial law. The industrial companies switched over to the war production. War supplies of Leningrad and the front went through the Vologda railway junction.
Vologda is among Russian cities with a special historical heritage. It is one of good preserved big cities which the present historical appearance was formed by a harmonic combination of wooden and stone architectural monuments.
There are more than 200 monuments of architecture and history in Vologda. The most famous are: the Vologda Kremlin, the St.Sophia Cathedral, Spaso-Prilutskiy monastery, the ensemble of Vladimir’s churches, the church of Konstantin and Elena, churches with frescoes of John the Forerunner and Dmitry Prilutskiy, Church of the Intercession on the Kozlyony, architectural ensembles of the Stone Bridge and Revolution square. Monuments of wooden architecture are especially worth mentioning. From 115 historical Russian cities only 16 have monuments of wooden architecture. Among them 3 cities are of special value including Vologda city.