The Kitezh region is a picturesque and an area filled with legends. “There Russia is still pure, it’s preserved now the way it was in our grandparents’ time,” – this is what Russian writer Pavel Melnikov wrote about Zavolzhye (literary: “the Trans-Volga Region”). One of the pearls in the Northern Zavolzhye is the mysterious lake Svetloyar. Legends say that it is hiding the ancient town Kitezh under its waters. The lake is located at the edge of Vladimirskoye village, 130 km from Nizhny Novgorod.
Vladimirskoye village in the Voskresensky district has acquired the status of a historical settlement due to its great cultural and natural heritage.
Approaching the village center, one can have a beautiful view over a wooden architecture monument – Church of Our Lady of Vladimir that gave its name to the village.
The church was constructed in 1766, but its appearance, inner decoration and a very special atmosphere have preserved until now.
Having bowed to ancient holy places, let’s continue our way to Kitezh Museum of History and Arts. Here one can dive into the world of vivid legends and stories about the hidden town of Kitezh. The visitors here can also learn plenty of interesting facts about the history of the Svetloyar lake origins, the famous people that have visited the legendary lake and left numerous works of art devoted to Svetloyar and Kitezh.
Next to the museum there is a children ethno-cultural center “Kitezh” in a beautiful wooden mansion. A number of studios – floristics, ceramics, weaving and embroidery, wood carving – as well as exhibition halls are ready to show the creative work of talented young students that make the legends come back to life in their works.
The picturesque and mysterious Svetloyar lake is located at the edge of the Vladimirskoye village.
There are numerous poetic legends and stories related to the lake. It’s quite often called a “sublime miracle” because of its origin, supposedly connected to a meteorite fall. But the lake is a piece of historical and cultural heritage as well as a natural one. Svetloyar is a special place, it’s worshiped by the Orthodox including Old Believers. One of the most poetic and mystical legends describes its history: “When Batu Khan Mongol troops approached the town of Great Kitezh very closely, godly monks turned in their pray to Our Lady pleading her for help. All of a sudden the suffering people were lit with Divine light. Mother of God descended from the heaven holding a miraculous cover which hid the town of Kitezh”. The legend about Kitezh was the source of inspiration for the famous opera by N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov “The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya” and for many paintings (canvases by Glazunov, Vasnetsov, Roerich, Korovin). The writer P.I. Melnikov-Pechyorsky also paid his tribute to Kitezh: “The town is still safe but invisible… It was concealed miraculously by a divine order… On the surface of the Svetloyar lake on a calm Summer evening one can see walls, churches, monasteries, prince’s palaces reflected in the water… And at nighttime one can hear the Kitezh bells ringing…”
The museum-tourist complex “Grad Kitezh” has been opened in 2015, it consists of the following: the theatre, where it is planned to stage the performances as per the plot of the legend about grad Kitezh with a peculiar animation accompanying and where even now there are guest performances of Nizhni Novgorod theatres; exhibition areas to show works of painters, masters-craftsmen and etc. Moreover, the museum-tourist complex “Grad Kitezh” is the excellent area to carry out interactive programs of various topics, development of event and business tourism.