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Ivanovo Oblast: Yuzha - the Bicycle Capital of Ivanovo Oblast
May 23, 2017 17:29


Yuzha is by coincidence the most southern (the town’s name sound a lot like “South” in Russian) and, perhaps, the saddest district centre of Ivanovo Oblast. “Yuzga” means “swamp” in Finno-Ugric, and the ancient village, which was called by this word, almost got bogged down in some depressive swamp by XIX century.

Travelers most often come to Yuzha passing by, on their way to Kholui, Shuya or Kovrov. Yuzha officially became a town in 1920s, but its blossom fell to the end of the previous century. This epoch is reminded by the most notable building of the city, more precisely, the whole complex of buildings of the weaving manufactory of the Balin merchants on the coast of the artificial Vazal lake. The factory remained the main town-forming enterprise, as well as the historical centre of Yuzha until recently - a working settlement grew around it. Now the production is almost completely closed, but the powerful red brick walls have been preserved better than all other old buildings of Yuzha.

The former factory almshouse hosts a town school, the mansion of the owners, Balin merchants, hosts a kindergarten. The mansion looks modest in comparison with the factory buildings: a large wooden hut on the street with the corresponding name: “Dacha” (“a summer cottage” in Russian). Yuzha looks modest in general and does not look much like a town: a lake in the centre, country-style houses, pine forests approaching the outskirts.


The settlement of Yuzha was first mentioned in the official documents of the middle of the 16th century. Its name is connected with the Merya “south” or “river”. The surrounding lands were included into of the principalities of the small Starodubskoe Principality, then were transferred to the possession of Princes Pozharsky, the ancestors of the liberator of Moscow, Dmitry Pozharsky. However, Yuzha-Nikolskoe would have remained an ordinary landowner’s village with a Smolensk church (1795), but for the paper mill and Asigkrit Balin that appeared there once. Having started to work with clothes at his grandfather’s, the owner of a small dyeing establishment in the Shuya village of Dunilov, Asigkrit Yakovlevich left his ten-million capital to his resourceful children. 

The Church of the Holy Apostle Asinkrit (built in memory of him) (this is another spelling of the name Asigkrit, of course, the cathedral is also made of red brick) on Sovetskaya Street is now occupied by the town school of arts. Therefore, the town authorities did not give it back to the religious community - in return, they gave them the building of the people’s court and the prosecutor’s office that constitued the manor house of the director of the Shuya Manufactory Mikhail Pavlov before the revolution. 

The Soviet government also left its traces in Yuzha, although they are not as noticeable as the traces of Balin. For example, the city river has been called Pionerka since that time.

Yuzha - the Bicycle Capital of Ivanovo Oblast 

Yuzha can be rightly called the bicycle capital of Ivanovo Oblast. Bicycles are used by everyone, from baby to adult, there are many bike parking lots near shops. The residents of the region themselves note that they have never seen so many cyclists like in Yuzha.

Perhaps the reason for this popularity is the situation with roads of Yuzha: to put it mildly, they leave much to be desired. Only 14 thousand people live in Yuzha, and this number is still decreasing. The name of the local residents, by the way, is “yuzhane” (sounding like “southerners” in Russian). As it often happens, in order to revive the city, local authorities are trying to invent a tourist brand, especially since Yuzha is connected with the neighbors that are successful in this respect, such as Kholui or Balakhna. It might seem that Yuzha already has a “brand” – Balin merchants and their factory, the basis of the city. 

However, more popular historical characters - Kozma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky – have been featured in recent years. Minin was born in Balakhna, and the lands of the Pozharsky Princes belonged to the modern Yuzha district. In honor of this two memorable signs have been placed recently. The function of the Local History Museum in Yuzha is performed by the House of Crafts, which “invites everyone to creativity”, as the signboard says. In the House of Crafts, you can sculpture, decorate, carve, or embroider - there are 14 workshops that teach folk crafts; ethnographic expositions are open, there are even an exhibition hall and a folklore ensemble.



Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Ivanovo Oblast     

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