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Everyday Russia


Mariy El

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mariy El

by Nikolai Gontar

Name: Nikolai Gontar

Age: 31

Profession: Freelance photographer 

City: Yoshkar-Ola

How long have you been doing photography? What style or genre most interests you? I have been doing photography since 2009. I completed Anatoly Maltsev's private school for photojournalism and received a degree from the Galperin Photography Faculty in St. Petersburg. I try to shoot in all styles: journalism, genre and street. I also don't shy from extreme sorts of shooting, or even landscapes and architecture. I spend a lot of time on social photography and investigating city life in various parts of the globe. The main realm of my freelance work is in shooting protests, revolutions and war.

Can you give us a short description of your city? Where is it located? What is it famous for? Yoshkar-Ola is capital of the Republic of Mariy El. It is located on the Malaya Kokshaga river, the left  tributary of the Volga in the center of the Volg-Vyatsky region.

The city has its seal and hymn. Yoshkar-Ola is located 862 kilometers from Moscow. It was founded in 1584. The name means Red City. But over the course of its history the city has changed its name several times. One of the minor planets discovered in our galaxy [number 2910, discovered in 1980] carries the name Yoshkar-Ola.

What is something about your city that only locals would know? Yoshkar-Ola is the only city in Russia that begins with the letter Й.

The city's architectural face has changed significantly in recently years. Only in Yoshkar-Ola can one see Spasskaya Tower, La Scala Theater, the Doge's Palace, and the Bruges Promenade. Of course, they are all copies, but residents and visitors alike enjoy seeing them.

Which places or sites are a must for someone to see if they visit your city? One can begin with a visit to Nogotkov-Obolensky Square. It is one of the favorite places not just for tourist but also for Yoshkarolintsy. There is a concentration of several interesting cultural landmarks here, plus it adjoins the National Art Gallery. From there, one can go the the Bruges Promenade. This beautiful street is one of the city's main attractions. Anyone who wants to dig deeper and learn about the city's history should visit the Museum of the History of Yoshkar-Ola. It includes over 17,000 items archaelogical and ethnographic, as well as decorative works of art and much more. Tour guides will show and explain everything, how the simple and not-so-simple folk lived in Tsarevokokshaysk (the city's former name) in the early 20th century.

Website: www.nikolaigontar.com

On Instagram: @sky_system

  • Tower

    I traveled to Yoshkar Ola (Tsarevokokshaisk) to create a guide for foreign tourists. The capital of Mari El is very extensive and beautiful.
    Photo by @sky_system

    Nikolai Gontar

  • Street

    Street names around the city are written in Russian and in Mari. You can hear people talking Mari in museums, shops and cafés. In the republic both languages have official status.
    Photo by @sky_system
    Nikolai Gontar

  • Hogwarts

    School No. 5. This is a castle built by businessman Sergey Mamaev for his wife Tatiana Mamayeva, she is the director of the school. Yoshkar-Ola is Mari for "red city." The castle was built of gray limestone. Over time, it will darken and will look like a real Hogwarts.
    Photo by @sky_system

  • Reflection

    The Republican Puppet Theatre - founded in 1942. The theater puts on performances in Russian and Mari languages. Its new building evokes the magic of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland Paris, which, in turn, is stylized after Bavaria's Neuschwanstein castle.
    Photo by @sky_system
    Nikolai Gontar

  • Memorial

    Volunteer Aleksey Zagainov at the Memorial Museum of the History of the Gulag in Yoshkar-Ola. The local museum is unique for being located in the same building where prisoners where held, interrogated and tortured.
    Photo by @sky_system
    Nikolai Gontar

  • Trader

    Wheeled shops can sometimes be found in the city, for example, this outlet that sells mainly vegetables and sometimes fish. 
    Photo by @sky_system

    Nikolai Gontar

  • Sculpture

    There are lots of unusual sculptures in the city. One of these monuments is the "Hammer." It is not a political statment or a statue of a person - it is simply a four-meter-high hammer hammering a nail into the ground. 
    Photo by @sky_system
    Nikolai Gontar

  • Mari

    The Mari religion is based on worship of the forces of nature, which humans must honor and respect. Before the spread of monotheistic teachings amongst the Mari, they worshipped many gods (the jumo, a word cognate to the Finnish Jumala), while recognizing the primacy of a "Great God" Kugu Jumo. In the nineteenth century, influenced by monotheism, pagan beliefs changed and the image of a Osh Kugu Jumo, literally "Great God of Light," was strengthened.
    Photo by @sky_system
    Nikolai Gontar

  • May Day

    A communist poster on a truck just before "May Day" in the city. Very symbolic.
    Photo by @sky_system
    Nikolai Gontar

  • Kangaroo

    A small zoo has been temporarily located in the premises of the National Museum of the Republic of Mari El. The exhibition - called "The Parade of Apes" - is sadly irresponsible. For example this kangaroo has been tied to a radiator. 
    Photo by @sky_system
    Nikolai Gontar