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17 December 2018

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Everyday Russia

Veliky Ustyug

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Veliky Ustyug

by Lyubeznikov and Ivanova

Name: Yuly Lyubeznikov and Alexandra Ivanova

Age: 23 and 19

Professions: Programmer and psychologist

City: Veliky Ustyug

How long have you been doing photography? What style or genre most interests you? 

Four years. Yuly is totally interested in photojournalism, Alexandra in social problems and everyday life.

Can you give us a short description of your city? Where is it located? What is it famous for?

Veliky Ustyug, in Vologodskaya oblast, is one of the oldest cities in the Russian North. It lies on the left bank of the Sukhona River, and was a important stop on the old Great Tea Road. Veliky Ustyug is the birthplace of oceanfarers and land explorers who played a key role in the acquisition of Siberia and Russian America. In 1999 it was declared the hometown of Father Frost. Many buildings in the city are designated as cultural heritage sites of the Russian Federation.

What is something about your city that only locals would know?

Some state institutions are located in cultural-historical buildings – not just museums, but the tax inspectorate, library, archives and technical colleges. For example, the Automobile Technical College is located in the cells of the former Mikhailo-Arkhangelsky Monastery.

In the center of the city you can find old merchants' homes still heated with a Russian stove, though they have been divided up into multi-room buildings where ordinary people live. In the city's older sections, many homes do not have internal plumbing. There are outdoor wellheads near such homes where people get their water even when it is -30 Celcius.

It is forbidden to construct a building higher than five stories in the city, thus if you visit the bell tower (in the summer) or rent a forklift, you can enjoy a wonderful panorama of the city.

There is normally snow on the ground in Veliky Ustyug from November to March. Some children have special winter scooters that they use to get around in the snow. Also, in the center of the city, along Sovietsky Prospekt, both children and adults get about on cross-country skis.

Which places or sites are a must for someone to see if they visit your city?

Actually, the most famous view of Veliky Ustyug is typically captured from the neighboring village of Dymkovo, which is located on the other side of the Sukhona River. You can get there by crossing the bridge, or, if the ice is still solid, by walking across the river. It is really a wonderful view of Veliky Ustyug and its ensemble of church buildings.

There is the miracle stone in the Church of St. Prokopia. If you sit on it and make a wish, it will surely come true.

For those interested in old religious art, we recommend the Church of the Ascension, which houses the Museum of Ancient Russian Art. They have several ikonstases as well as various important historical items from the town.

There are many souvenir stores related to Father Frost. The most interesting, in our opinion, is the Father Frost Post Office, where they read letters written to Father Frost and also answer them.

Not far from the river school is an interesting courtyard with an outdoor summer cafe. It has many hanging mirrors, paintings, posters, portraits, etc., and in the evening it is beautifully lit.

Anything else you would like to add?

A taxi in the city is far cheaper than in Petersburg. You can get from one end of the city to the other for just 100R.

Where can we see more of your images?

On our websites: and

Or follow us on Instagram at: @lyubeznikov and @alexandra_ivanova


  • Music school

    A young student during a lesson. @lyubeznikov @alexandra_ivanova Yuli Lyubeznikov and Alexandra Ivanova

  • Simeon Stylites

    The Church of Simeon Stylites is an Orthodox Church that is not very popular among tourists, because it is not in the center of the town (a 30 minute walk from the central square). Only the first level of the church is restored and open to visitors. It is one of the few functioning churches in Velikiy Ustyug. @lyubeznikov @alexandra_ivanova Yuli Lyubeznikov and Alexandra Ivanova

  • Baptism

    Church of Simeon Stylites. Baptisms take place every Saturday, but I was lucky to shoot this on a Sunday, because non-locals had asked to be baptized. Baptism takes place in a small, heated room with a baptismal font. @lyubeznikov @alexandra_ivanova

    Yuli Lyubeznikov and Alexandra Ivanova

  • Father Frost's Mail

    This is the mailbox of Ded Moroz. Ded Moroz is Russia's Santa Claus. Many childrens write letters to Ded Moroz. @lyubeznikov @alexandra_ivanova Yuli Lyubeznikov and Alexandra Ivanova

  • Goat

    This family has a lot of livestock; this is just one of their goats. They also have a donkey. @lyubeznikov @alexandra_ivanova

    Yuli Lyubeznikov and Alexandra Ivanova

  • Snowman

    Snowman melts in the courtyard of a house on Sovetsky Prospect, the town's main street. @lyubeznikov @alexandra_ivanova Yuli Lyubeznikov and Alexandra Ivanova

  • Snow Porridge

    The snow is starting to melt, and Sovetsky Prospect, the town's main street is covered with "snow porridge" - a mixture of water, dirt and snow. @lyubeznikov @alexandra_ivanova

    Yuli Lyubeznikov and Alexandra Ivanova

  • Skiing

    Children skiing in front of the Church of Nikola Gostunsky, in the center of the town. @lyubeznikov @alexandra_ivanova Yuli Lyubeznikov and Alexandra Ivanova

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