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Vanished Towns of Russia: Kitezh Grad
November 28, 2014 16:55


The Nizhny Novgorod Region harbours Lake Svetloyar, a pearl of Russian nature. This lake is sometimes called little Russian Atlantis: its history is steeped in legends. The main legend of Svetloyar tells about the invisible Kitezh Grad town. 

Kitezh Grad 
 
The only hints on real existence of Kitezh can be found in the Kitezh Chronicler book. Scientists assume that this book was written in the late 17th century.
 
According to it Kitezh Grad was built by the Great Russian Prince Yury Vsevolodovich Vladimirsky at the end of the 12th century. As the legend goes, the prince stopped to have rest near the Svetloyar Lake on his way home from Novgorod. However, he could not merely rest: the prince was captivated by the beauty of those places. Right away he ordered to build Big Kitezh town on the bank of the lake.
 
Having conquered several Russian principalities, Mongolian Baty Khan heard about Kitezh Grad and commanded to seize it. The Mongols captured Small Kitezh soon and forced Yury to recede in the woods to Big Kitezh. One of the captives told Mongols about secret tracks to Lake Svetloyar. The horde pursued Yury and soon reached the town walls. The Mongols were astonished to see that the town had no fortifications at all. Its dwellers were not even going to fight but were just praying. The Mongols attacked the town but were stopped. Suddenly water spouts broke forcefully from under the ground and started flooding the town and its aggressors. The attackers had to recede. They observed the town submerged into the lake. The last thing they saw was a cross on the cathedral dome. 
Lots of people believe in this legend and assume that the small forest lake Svetloyar in the Nizhny Novgorod Region is that very lake that hid Kitezh Grad from the invaders. 
 
According to scientists, the town might have been flooded due to quite earthly reasons. The lake is located between two deep faults and, most likely, was filled up several times. The last flood was probably the case the legend tells about.
And yet, almost fifty years of search with teams of scuba divers gave no traces of the fairy Kitezh Grad. Heinrich Schliemann, for example, found both Troy and gold, while guided just by the Illiada fairy tale. Here we have an exact address and the lake is like a pool. 
 
Kitezh Grad is the symbol of something unattainable and thus long wished for. It is a paradise place, where righteous people can escape from the adversities of this cruel world. No matter, whether Kitezh Grad ever existed or not, the beautiful legend gives hope to the desperate. Peasants used to refuge here in search of fertile land in the remote past. Even nowadays some people escape from the hustle of modern life to the woods of Nizhny Novgorod Region. 
 
Orthodox Christians gather here to pray. There is a belief that the handful of local soil can heal diseases. The water taken from the lake stays fresh in a bottle for several years, as if consecrated. Another belief states that if one walks around the lake three times clockwise, all one’s hearts’ desired will be fulfilled. Naturally people contemplate on the lake surface secretly hoping to get a glimpse of Kitezh Grad.  
 
Presently the lake area is part of the nature reserve, which is under the UNESCO protection.
 
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Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian History     

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