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National Park of Smolensk
July 26, 2015 16:33



Mass forest clearance for export abroad began in the north-west of Smolensk in the second half of XVIII century. The logs were loaded onto barges and carried to Riga along the Western Dvina. Forest clearance continued for two centuries, and four timber industry companies worked on the territory of the National Park after the Great Patriotic War. They made intense logging for timber harvesting. All this destroyed the ecosystem, killed forests and contaminated rivers. Even the organization of Kurov-Borsky reserve in 1978 did not save the situation.

The National Park “Smolenskoe Poozerye” was established on the territory of Demidovsky District of Smolensk Oblast on April 15, 1992 for the preservation of natural complexes for recreational, educational, scientific and cultural purposes. The lands of Dukhovschinsky District were attached to Demidovsky District - they made up a single landscape together. In 1998 the park “Smolenskoe Poozerye” was included into the list of the Federation of Natural and National Parks of Europe, in 1999 - into the list of ornithological areas of international importance.

In November 2002 the park was awarded a status of a biosphere wildlife reserve of the UNESCO program “Man and Biosphere” (MAB). In 2009 they started to develop the program of cooperation of biosphere reserves of various protection status within the European transect: Russia - Belarus - Poland - Germany - France.

National Park

The National Park “Smolenskoe Poozerye” is located in the North-west of Smolensk Oblast, in Demidovsky and Dukhovschinsky districts, on the territory of more than 146 hectares. The boundaries of the park form almost a regular rhombus - 55 km from east to west and 50 km from north to south. The most part of the territory is covered by forests, both spruce and broadleaved.

As you may guess from its name, there is a lot of water here: a large area of swamps, the rivers of the basin of the Western Dvina, the main of them being Elsha, and glacial lakes: Sapsho, Rytoye, Chistik, Baklanovskoe, Dgo, Petrovskoe, Vervizhskoe – there are a total of about 35 lakes. Forests, lakes, rivers and the entire ecosystem are protected as one of the biosphere reserves being a part of the World Network of Natural Wildlife Reserves of the UNESCO program.

An estate was bought by Nikolai Mikhailovich Przhevalsky here, in the former village of Sloboda, in 1881. He lived in Sloboda almost until his death, leaving to his last expedition from there. Thanks to Przhevalsky, civilization came to Sloboda, which was in fact a very ancient village: a hospital, a post office and a telegraph appeared here then. Today a house-museum of the famous traveler is open in Przhevalskoe. In addition, Przhevalskoye has a resort status; and there are houses of balneological health resort named (again) after Przhevalsky at the shore of the Sapsho Lake.

It is the largest health resort in Smolensk Oblast, offering treatment with mineral water from local springs, mineral brine and muds. There is a settlement of Verzhavsk located n far from Przhevalskoe at a high remnant hill at the Rzhavets Lake – this settlement is a large shadow of an ancient Russian city which was destroyed in XVII century.

The complex of Verzhavsk includes the settlement itself surrounded by the ancient living area and the remains of an ancient cemetery discovered by archaeologists. Other burial mounds, settlements and man sites of Neolithic times were found around it. Poozerye is a very old land, a place on the route “from the Varangians to the Greeks”, and people settled here long ago. Another attraction of the national park is the so-called Holy Spring that was recently given the name of St. Seraphim of Sarov. This is a spring with a well where a bathing place is equipped. Its water is considered to have healing and even miraculous properties; this belief is partially confirmed by the scientific research - the spring has excellent antibacterial properties.

Best Places To Stay In Smolenskoe Poozerye

The tourism centre “Baklanovo” is located on the shore of the Baklanovskoe Lake. There are a two-storey house with double and quadruple rooms and guest cabins there. Additional services include Russian bath, billiard, charcoal grill, rental of boats, bikes, skis, sledges.

The cost of living makes up 400-500 roubles per person per night, 1000 roubles for a premium room. The cottages of the tourism centre “Chaika” in the village of Nikitenki are built of pine and spruce. There are double rooms and apartments with a kitchen and a toilet for accommodation of five or six people.

The rooms have autonomous heating, each block has a TV and a refrigerator. The cost of living ranges from 1200 roubles per night for a double room up to 6000 roubles for a luxury highly comfortable room. Prices are slightly lower in winter and a bit higher during the holidays.

The guest house on the Petrakovskoe Lake designed for 10 guests offers rental of two rooms with furnace heating, a kitchen with utensils, a gas stove, a TV-set, a refrigerator, a large veranda and all amenities on the street. The cost of living makes up 250 roubles per day per person.

The guest house for 7 people in the village of Boroviki at a 1 kilometer distance from the Sapsho Lake has three bedrooms, a living room with satellite TV, a shower, a bathroom, a balcony, a gas stove, cooking utensils and a refrigerator. The cost of living makes up 6000 roubles per day for a house, an extra bed costs 500 roubles per person.

The territory of the National Park “Smolenskoe Poozerye” offers rental of houses in private sector for 150 roubles per day, in an apartment building near the health resort named after Przhevalsky - starting from 200 roubles per day.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Smolensk Russian National Parks Ecotourism   

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