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    Valday

Valday, standing on the shore of the same-name lake, is quite a young town. This is explained by the fact that main trading routes of the Novgorod region ran some kilometers off Valday Lake, making it a wild and uninhabited place.

In 1461470, a small village of Valday Selishe, believed to be the predecessor of the town, numbered only two households. The village was a part of Korotsky Pogost, a bigger village, which still stands not far from the town. An old stone church built in 1825 has survived to nowadays.

The 15th century cemented relations between Moscow and Novgorod. Novgorod was an open town for foreigners, who paid often visits to Russia thanks to regular transport service. Numerous road inns, where travelers could have a rest and change horses, were a part of picturesque landscape.

The foundation of Iversky Monastery triggered fast development of the town. Great construction works attracted lots of workers and merchants to Valday. The Trinity Church was the first brick building of the monastery. Today the building houses Valday local cultural centre.

After 1703, the date when St Petersburg was founded, the local authorities repaired the road from Moscow to the river Neva. Valday located not far from that place turned into a trans-shipment point for carts, wagons, military forces, etc. The new status of the town revived handicrafts and trade. Valday barankas, round Russian pastry with a hole in the middle, were of special demand in other towns.

On 28 May, 1770, the village of Valday was given a town status by a decree of Catherine the Great.

The new town numbered about 2000 people. Over 50 smithies operated in Valday, ready to help unlucky travelers to horseshoe or mend a carriage. Famous Valday small bells originate from local blacksmiths.

A set of small bells and jingles was called a coachmans Harmon, resounding for a kilometer around. Valdays craftsmen cast small bells as well as huge bells of 2 thousand poods (a pood=16.38 kilos) each. Later in 1816 two ball-making factories were established in Valday. Their production was always in favour of customers in St Petersburg and other towns.

Later, with construction of Nikolayevskaya railway (today bearing the name of Oktyabrskaya) linking St Petersburg and Moscow, Valdays economy faced a period of decay. Standing away from the railway, the town no longer was an important point of the trading route. As a result the population of the town reduced by half from 1858 to 1910.

Nevertheless, local bell production survived the lull in sales by tuning to making fire, theatre and alarm bells.

Today bells, once cast in Valday, toll in cathedrals of Venice, Florence and New York. Some of them can be found in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, the Czech Republic, etc.

Valday Coat of Arms

On the right side a green mountain is depicted;

the Crown is a sign of significance and monarchs benevolence towards the town and its citizens;

crosses on the left mean the towns is rich in fur-bearing animals.



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