History of Suzdal. XX century.
A history of
Suzdal in XX century is full of as
tragic as glad and encouraging
events. It seems that history of
previous periods was poor and bored
in comparison with XX century. But
that is not so: analyzing of stories
about past of the town from its
foundation, it is possible to
understand that the majority of
names and events were simply lost.
Events and people of XX century
still have been known and that
period of history seems to be the
most eventful. And it is worth
looking at it carefully.
Turn of XX century.
At the turn of XX century there were
not too many stone buildings in
Suzdal, which was come by a railway.
There were mostly wooden buildings
on unpaved streets. Some of those
buildings have withstood the ravages
Almost every family had its own
fruit and vegetables garden. The
gardens were very important for
citizens. They “had about 366
arpents and took out about 9900 kg
of fresh vegetables for a market
every year, not including potatoes
and cabbages” (from an article of
K.Liberovsky “Gardening on Suzdal
district”. At the end of September a
fair of Reverend Euphrosyne took
place and all products were sold
there – from animals to fancy goods
There were also small private
factories and plants in the town,
about 36 people worked for them:
weaving factory, lather and bells
founding manufactures. A dramatic
studio and two football teams also
performed in the town.
There was another group -
social-democratic. A.K.Gastev and
A.I.Skobennikov were its organizers
and members of intelligentsia –
teachers and a veterinarian took
part in it. The small group was
closed in 1907 and after a search
four its members were sent to
Siberia. Others who avoided sending
to Siberia, stayed in Suzdal, but
stopped their revolutionary activity.
Visit of emperor’s family in 1913
became a memorable event for Suzdal
history. Tsar Nicolas II with his
daughters visited the Convent of the
Deposition of the Robe of the Mother
of God, the Convent of the
Intercession of the Mother of God
and the Monastery of our Saviour and
St. Euthimius. He gave presents and
asked to turn over some valuable
icons from monasteries to
St.Petersburg Museum of Alexander
III making copies of them in advance.
Revolution and Civil War.
The news about February Revolution
of 1917 came to Suzdal late. The
meeting of citizens took place in a
house of merchant Kashitsin where a
town executive committee was elected.
Representatives of all parts of town
population were in a committee:
merchants, craftsmen, teachers,
clerks, church people, peasants,
militaries. But in two days it was a
direction to appoint Shafrov, a
former Head of district authority,
just dislodged by citizens, on a
position of district commissar.
Information about deposition of
Provisional Government reached
Suzdal two weeks later and soon an
authority moved to Soviets.
Bolshevic M.P.Irinin became a chair
of district executive committee. On
9(22) of November the first meeting
of a Soviet of peasants and
soldier's Deputies was held.
Mitrophan Dunin became the first
During the Civil War the authority
wasn’t changed in Suzdal, comparing
to other Russian towns. There were
changes only inside the town and
those changes were strange for one
of religious centers. Citizens
didn’t object to and even supported
opening shrine with the relics,
impressment of churches and
monasteries’ property, burning of
icons. It was continued during next
years as well.
After the end of Civil War, Suzdal
was rebuilding and obtaining more
comfortable appearance gradually but
In 1923 a Suzdal museum was opened.
It placed in Bishop’s chambers.
Foundation and developing of the
museum was put on its first Director
– Vasily Romanovsky. He was succeed
in a remarkable manner to gather
more than 3,5 thousand items from
closed Suzdal monasteries and save
them by that. The items he couldn’t
save that self-sacrificing director
measured and listed on his own.
During 1920-1930s 14 churches were
destroyed and very often saved
churches stayed without any fences
and warm aisles, laid up for bricks.
In 1930 on request of Romanovsky a
young professional, Alexey Varganov,
a Leningrad superior art courses
graduate was sent to Suzdal. He
became the most outstanding
character in saving and
reconstructing of town monuments.
In the meantime Suzdal churches and
monasteries were used by new owners
for their needs. A prison for
political offenders was opened in
the Monastery of our Saviour and St.
Euthimius. A secret biochemical
laboratory was placed in the Convent
of the Intercession of the Mother of
God. An electricity generating plant
was in the Convent of the Deposition
of the Robe of the Mother of God. At
the same time more “peaceful”
organizations were opened –
technical school of agricultural
industry mechanization and
Great Patriotic War
In advance of the war with Germany,
some changes happened in the
Monastery of our Saviour and St.
Euthimius. A prison for political
offenders moved away and intern
Czechs located there. They had
crossed a border and prepared for a
war in favor of Soviet Union.
912 citizens went to the war from
Suzdal, 466 of them didn’t come
Battle actions didn’t reach the
town, but influenced on it. 315 kg
of bronze were confiscated for a
defense fund. At the beginning of
1942 students of a military road
school of NKVD located in bishop’s
Saving museums values from
“unconscientious soldiers of Red
Army” was as difficult as dangerous
A concentration camp was opened
again in the Monastery of our
Saviour and St. Euthimius – “the
Bastille of Suzdal”. It was opened
again for USSA nationals – for
former war prisoners that time.
Since 1943 it was a prison for
German captive officers. There was a
field marshal Friedrich Paulus among
them who fell prisoner near
Stalingrad and left memoirs about
Suzdal after coming back to Germany.
After a hard war period bishop’s
chambers were given back to museum.
Suzdal monuments and museum
personnel attracted attention of
eminent people – academician
P.L.Kapitsa, architects B.M.Iofan
and N.I.Brunov. It is known open
letter of Kapitsa to Malenkov. a
Central Committee Secretary about a
value of Vladimir area monuments.
But despite of soviet scientists’
support, Suzdal museums’ personnel
should fight for the town by
10 post war years.
The end of the war, giving some
relief to people, didn’t bring
expected improving for historical
monuments. In most of the cathedrals
there were domestic offices –
garages, smithy, warehouses etc.
Varganov wrote a lot of letters to
authority with desires to oblige
renters to keep buildings in a good
form but without any results.
Furthermore empty cathedrals were
destroyed much faster.
At last research work in bishop’s
chambers started – slowly, with
After finishing of restoration at
the turn of 1940-1950s a
reconstruction of other Suadal
monuments began, first of all the
cathedral of the Nativity in the
The reconstruction of monuments
often followed by their handover for
domestic needs again.
Nevertheless efforts of Varganov and
his colleagues brought measurable
results: in 1958 two local history
museums – of Vladimir and Suzdal –
were united into Vladimir-Suzdal
State museum-reserve. Suzdal started
attracting much more tourists, a
group of guides appeared. In 1956 a
bus route Vladimir-Suzdal was
In 1961-1963 a new road to Suzdal
was built instead of old one, rock
paved, winding between surrounding
villages. It made easier a way from
Vladimir for both tourists and
Long-expected time of restoration of
the main, the most ancient and
interesting monuments started.
In the 1960s the church of St. Boris
and St. Gleb, St. Nicholas church in
Posad, the Convent of the
Intercession of the Mother of God,
the Cathedral of the Deposition of
the Robe of the Mother of God were
rebuilt. Magnificent double-headed
holy gates of the Convent of the
Deposition of the Robe of the Mother
of God and the main cathedral - the
cathedral of the Nativity were
reconstructed in original
A bit later a reconstruction of
bishop’s chambers started which
became a life work of A.D.Varganov.
In the middle of the 1960s interest
in old time raised an inrush of
tourists to old Russian towns. Most
of them were foreign tourists. A
famous banker baron Rothschild said
after his visit to Suzdal: “I’m a
rich person, but if I got Suzdal for
some years, I would double my
capital”. After his words the
program of developing of a touristic
center in the town was accepted.
The program had a lot of
disadvantages; funds, staff and
energy were limited, but anyway
Suzdal became coming to life. Amount
of tourists rose every year: in 1967
the town was visited by 366 thousand
guests, but in two years there were
more then 700 thousand.
It was planned to accommodate a
tourist camp (hostel) of All-Union
Central Council of Trade Unions
(VTsSPS) in Monastery of our Saviour
and St. Euthimius. It had been a
colony before 1967, which was moved
quickly to another place and
instaurators became to work there.
Sudden speechification of museum
director A.I.Aksenova helped to
prevent placing a hostel in the
historical and architectural
monument. After that the monastery
was handed to the museum completely.
Touristic camp was placed in the
surrounding and it wasn’t seen from
Those years Suzdal became one of
film centres. Townscapes you can see
in famous films such as “A marriage
of Balzaminov”, “Andrew Rublev”,
“Snowstorm”, “Youth of Peter I” and