Kirzhach is a small town in the Vladimir region, which is the administrative center of the district of the same name. Kirzhach is not far from Moscow – only 90 km, but many travelers hear its name for the first time. Here you can not only expand your knowledge of small Russian cities, but also have a nice time before heading to the more popular Vladimir and Suzdal.
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What is Kirzhach famous for? What attracts tourists here? In this town there is the only museum of platbands in Russia. You can see these decorations not only in the museum collection, but also live. In many of the wooden houses the windows are enclosed in beautifully carved frames. Slowly strolling through the streets, tourists enjoy looking at the unique patterns.
Kirzhach from Above
Driving up to Kirzhach, do not forget to stop at the museum and park complex with the exotic name “Vshivaya Gorka”. This historical place is associated with the quarantine camp, which was located here in 1813, where the Vladimir militiamen, who participated in the expulsion of Napoleon, stayed.
The picturesque Kirzhach River, which gave its name to the city itself, flows through the park. The word “kerzhi” means “left”, and Kirzhach is the left tributary of the Klyazma River.
There are many wooden buildings in the city. So, in Kirzhach you can walk along the longest in our country wooden bridge (555 m), which is included in the “Russian Book of Records. It is called “Typographic”.
In Kirzhach you will find something interesting and lovers of temple architecture. The buildings of the Annunciation Monastery have been preserved since the 16th century. The complex includes the Annunciation Cathedral, the burial vault of the Boyars Miloslavsky, Vsekhsviatskaya church, and the cellar building. Nowadays it is a functioning nunnery. Here you can lay your hands on the holy relics of St. hieromonk Roman of Kirzhach, a disciple of Sergius of Radonezh. In addition to the monastic buildings, in the city itself there are several churches built in the XVII and XIX centuries.
Fans of unusual exhibitions and museums will find in Kirzhach unique “Museum of copper and brass”; an exhibition of photographic works of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, who was born in these places and is one of the first Russian photoartists, who created color photographs; a very original exhibition of unique Russian documents on incentives and education, relating to the XVIII-XX centuries. By the way, the local printing house prints school leaving certificates, diplomas of higher and secondary vocational education: look at your school leaving certificate, where is it printed? There’s even a “snack museum.”
Those who prefer the outdoors, however, can see the Orthodox crosses, stroll through the fruit and berry orchard “Kirgel”.
Former Arsentyev house Former Smirnov house Wooden house on Leningradskaya Street Early 20th century block of flats The building of market rows, built in 1850s.
History of the city
There are two versions of the origin of the town of Kirzhach. According to one of them, a small village on the river Kirzhach was first mentioned documentarily in the will of Ivan Kalita in 1328. He passed the territory of this village to the Alexander monastery in Suzdal. According to another version, the history of Kirzhach is closely connected with the history of the Annunciation Monastery, founded in 1358 by St. Sergius of Radonezh. Kirzhach became a sloboda at the monastery in the middle of the 14th century. In 1778 the two villages – Kirzhach and Selivanova Gora, located opposite each other on the banks of the Kirzhach River, were united into a single town, part of the Vladimir Viceroyalty, and later – the Vladimir Province.
The Annunciation Monastery in Kirzhach. Picture of 1910
Life of the town in the 19th century was determined by the fact that a large trade route Stromynka ran through it. Residents of Kirzhach traded in silk goods, brass and copper products, but they were especially famous for the art of woodcarving. Local arguns (masters of wooden carving) were in demand in carpentry and joinery and often found work for themselves in Moscow.
A large role in the cultural life of the city has for centuries played patrons of the arts. So, in the XIX century through the charitable activities of the merchants Solovyovs in Kirzhach were built not only weaving mills, but also the first in the province teachers’ seminary, a female two-class school (in this building are still taught to children), Church of All Saints and other buildings.
Even today, funds for the opening and operation of many cultural sites in Kirzhach allocated by the director of the printing house patron Eugene Fedorov.
Map-plan of Kirzhach in 1837, corrected in 1862.
During the Great Patriotic War there were fierce battles near Kirzhach. The Germans were tearing towards Moscow, so Kirzhach became a place of circular defense of our capital. Here military pilots, gliders and paratroopers were trained. The famous Women’s Aviation Regiment under the guidance of the legendary Marina Raskova was also based in this town.
Kirzhach took part in the training of pilots and the first cosmonauts. Here they mastered parachute jumps. A place not far from the town – the village of Novoselovo, 18 km from Kirzhach – where the first cosmonaut of our planet Yuri Gagarin died.
Nowadays Kirzhach is a district center in the Vladimir region with a population of about 26,000 people.
Sights of Kirzhach
Although Kirzhach is not very rich in the number of attractions, it is quite compensated by their uniqueness.
The “Vshivaya Gorka” and “Rubezh” complex
On the way to Kirzhach, fans of walks in the woods should definitely turn to the park historical complex “Vshivaya Gorka”. The name comes from the fact that on a small hill near Kirzhach there was a quarantine point after the retreat of Napoleon’s army. There the lousy sick soldiers from Vladimir recovered their health. This place combines two historical events: the Patriotic War of 1812 and the Great Patriotic War.
The forest here grows in pristine condition, with rather flimsy wooden bridges between ravines and sinkholes. One of the signs points to a significant pine tree: the tree is 300 years old, it was a witness to history. Here was also the frontier of Moscow defense during the Great Patriotic War. On the territory of the park there are reconstructed real pillboxes and bunkers, trenches, machine-gun nests and other military structures. You can get into each of them and personally feel the spirit of the time. In this place our first cosmonauts liked to have a rest – Yuri Gagarin, Georgy Titov and others, who were trained before their flight in Kirzhach.
General inspection of the complex will take about one hour – this is a great walk through the woods, combined with familiarity with history. Let’s say at once that there are no snack bars and cafes on “Vshivaya Gorka”, so you should take drinking water and a small snack with you.
You have already walked on the wooden bridges in the park “Lousy Gorka”, but they were very small. And here you can walk on the longest wooden bridge already in Kirzhach. The bridge was built in 2016, connecting two city neighborhoods. The length of the bridge is 555 meters.
The area adjacent to the bridge is ennobled: there are unique garden furniture and sculpture, made by hereditary argans. It is worth to visit the glade of lost letters: on a small area, plates with Old Russian letters, which are not part of our alphabet, and their names are installed. From the typographic side the bridge ends with a beautiful park called “Alexander’s garden”, where adults can sit in the shade of trees, and children can play on a specially equipped platform.
In Alexandrovsky Park under the open sky there is a museum of glacial stones, of which a circular labyrinth in the Japanese style is laid out. Tourists also like to take pictures near the artificial heart-shaped lake.
There are also Beaver, Hare and Eastern bridges.
One of the historical shrines of Kirzhach is rightly considered the Annunciation Monastery. It began its history in the XIV century, when St. Sergius of Radonezh and his disciples, having left for a time the Trinity monastery, arrived on the high left bank of the Kirzhach River and chose this place to build a new monastery. Initially wooden cells and a church were erected, later replaced by a stone church. Originally the monastery was a male monastery. At the end of the XX century the monastery resumed its activity as a nunnery. The Annunciation Cathedral and the Church of the Savior, as well as the All Saints Church, stand out on the territory.
To escape from the hustle and bustle for a while, visit the old revered temples. Here you will especially feel the special atmosphere of spirituality. We remind you that women must have a kerchief to cover their hair. In the monastery is not accepted to enter in shorts and miniskirts.
Kirzhach local history museum has all the attributes of the district cultural centers: there are several halls, which tell about the history and the present, famous people and significant events of the town. Of particular interest is the exhibition of works by S. M. Prokudin-Gorsky, the first Russian photographer, who created color photographs. They bring Russian history and famous personalities to life, such as Leo Tolstoy.
Museum of copper and brass is in a beautiful wooden building with nice casings. Here you can see different samovars and other things made of copper and brass, and the stages of production are shown.
The Museum of Platbands will amaze even the most demanding tourists: the workmanship of the Arguns is mesmerizing, it is truly magical!
Cafes and restaurants
After exploring the city and walking around, travelers will definitely want to eat something to eat. In Kirzhach, there are several nice cafes that offer quite decent food at affordable prices.
For example, in the cafe “Caramel” lunch for two, including very tasty cooked fish, kebab with side dishes and beer, will cost about 1,600 rubles. In addition to this cafe, popular with tourists a small restaurant “Kirzhachskaya meal”, opened in an old merchant’s mansion.
You can enjoy traditional Russian cuisine in the taverns “Krasna izba” and “Russian izba”. And for a quick snack of pizza, chicken wings or salad in Kirzhach is perfect bar “Diana”.
Kirzhach will gladly welcome tourists in the summer, as in winter the city is buried in snow. In the period from May to September, the weather here is quite comfortable, which disposes to walks both around the city and in the park complex.
Viewpoint in Kirzhach
Kirzhach is a small town, you can get around it on foot. Take a leisurely stroll through the old part of the district center: you will enjoy the coziness and beauty of small two-story houses, the first floors of which are stone, and the second – wooden. You can still see some century old buildings: the former Smirnov house, a bazaar of the 1850s, the former Arsentyev house, a wooden apartment building on Leningradskaya Ulitsa, and others. The central street is named after Yuri Gagarin, and on the main square is a rather original monument to Lenin.
At the exit from the city there is an observation deck, which offers a beautiful view of nature. And you will see off a cute sculpture of a hare, beside which you should definitely take a picture.
On the acquaintance with the town of Kirzhach will not take more than 5-6 hours, so look for a place to stay overnight does not make sense. You can stay here for one day off, but the bright impressions and pleasant memories will stay for a long time!
Where to stay
Tourists who have decided to stay in Kirzhach for a few days, wait for hotels, recreation centers and guest houses. One of the best is considered a four-star guest house-museum Krasovskikh. Guests note the pleasant service, atmospheric interior and tasty breakfasts, which are prepared here from natural products. The Sherna Hotel 3* offers the best value for money. You can also book a log cabin at Kipreyevskaya base for a full vacation.
How to get there
To get to Kirzhach from Moscow by car you can take the Shchelkovskoe highway. There are also electric trains to this place: the Kirzhach station is located on the Great Ring of the Moscow railroad. And maybe someone will want to fly here on a dirigible? This is, of course, a joke. But in Kirzhach is really a dirigible, which was built to test one of the largest balloons “Jaguar”.
Kirzhach is a great option for a weekend trip (photo + video)
This town, which I visited at the very end of September 2020, was one of my discoveries. It is located 90 km from Moscow, and it is an excellent option for a day trip. As usual, I am completing the story with a video, since not everything was captured in the pictures.
As for the road, this is the Shchelkovskoe direction. The road is good in some places beautiful, but with traffic jams. If anyone knows the secret Indian trails, which you can bypass on Saturday morning, not too early – share in the comments;) Well, we have our first stop, and it’s outside of Kirzhach. The park “Louse Hill” is so called because in 1813 there was a quarantine camp – for patients not with the now fashionable baclainovirus, but with typhus, which lice are safely tolerated.
Information boards tell about the events immediately after the war with Napoleon, and the period of World War II, when it was a rear fortification, is revealed through the museum objects, the main one is BZOT – you can and should get in there.
There are eco-trails in the park, here and there turning into atmospheric wooden bridges, and the Kirzhach river on its territory (and not only) bends and looks very beautiful from the air.
Overall, the park leaves the most pleasant impression, mainly due to the landscaping and presentation. Well, we go to Kirzhach, whose main street is named after Gagarin, who was unlucky to crash near the village of Novoselovo. Well, Kirzhach is the nearest town to the unlucky village for the first cosmonaut-man. Yes, Prokudin-Gorsky, who was still shooting in color in the Russian Empire, was also born not in Kirazhach, but in the village of Funikova Gora, which did not prevent him from organizing a small exhibition of his work right on the main street of Kirzhach.
I mean that Kirzhach people are very good in the sense that they connect the biographies of famous personalities with the town. And it works out very well. Houses on Gagarin Street are also pre-revolutionary in mass and look either good or excellent.
Parallel to Gagarin Street is Leningradskaya Street. Our destination on it was Cafe Caramel, where, as it turned out, we already had lunch on the way from Suzdal in 2016. The cafe is still very good, and the cooking there is not provincially fast. All in all, I recommend it.
But, as it turned out, not only this institution is interesting on this street. Architecturally Leningradskaya, of course, is poorer than Gagarina (although there are interesting houses there), but there is the Museum of Copper and Brass, which we looked.
However, the museum itself is interesting only if you visit it with a guide, but the external design is simply gorgeous. By the way, on the territory we talked a little with the man, who, as I understand, from the number of those involved in the positive changes taking place in Kirzhach. Unfortunately, he was a little bit drunk, so we did not manage to communicate fully, but we learned something interesting – I refer to the video. In the courtyard of the museum, by the way, there are a lot of wooden platbands on display. But in the place on Gagarin Street, marked on the map as the Platband Museum, there are only pictures of them. Anyway, you can look there also for free, so there is no need to complain.
Actually, we go back to Gagarin Street and after passing through the central square, in the middle of which the head of the Leader of the World Proletariat towers menacingly, we go on to the territory of the Annunciation Monastery.
Like the monuments of civil architecture of Kirzhach, the monastery ensemble is not something unique, but it looks very photogenic.