Uglich (Russian: Углич, OOGH-leech) is a small town in Yaroslavl Oblast of Russia, 240 km north of Moscow. Located at the picturesque bank of the Volga River, Uglich is one of Russia's few historical and well-preserved riverine tourist destinations. The town is often included into the Golden Ring of Russia.
The local population of 32,000 (2018) doubles during the summer when this lovely town hosts weekenders from Moscow and other cities, as well as organized tourist groups brought by buses and ships. Thanks to this popularity, Uglich is changing rapidly from a Russia's usual backwater provincial place into an attractive point with all necessary infrastructure and the potential for further development.
Uglich is one of the oldest cities of Russia. According to archeologists, a settlement at the place of the modern kremlin of Uglich existed roughly since the beginning of Christian era. But it is estimated, that the town was founded in 937 AD. However, Uglich was firstly mentioned in chronicles in 1148 AD.
Since 1218 Uglich had been the capital of the small Uglich Princedom until in the beginning of 14th century when the princedom was sold to Muscovia as a part of Russia unification from the feudal fragmentation.
During the period of Ivan The Terrible ruling, Uglich helped this tsar to invade Kazan: the locals built a moveable wooden fortress, which was floated down the Volga river. This fortress also acted as the foundation of Sviyazhsk town near Kazan.
After Ivan The Terrible's death in 1584 his baby son, the crown prince Dmitry was relocated to Uglich with his mother. Seven years after, on May 15, 1591, the most famous event in Uglich's history happened: young Dmitry was killed. This lead to a civil disorder in the city. After its suppression 200 citizens were executed to death, and Dmitry's mother was forced to take the vows. Left without a tsar's successor, Russia entered one of the darkest periods of its history, known as The Great Disturbance (Великая смута), which finished in 1613 with Romanov Dynasty accession. As for Prince Dmitry, later he was canonized by Russian Orthodox Church as a saint martyr.
During The Great Disturbance of 17th century Uglich was ruined by Poles, recovering very slowly after that. It is said by historians that before this devastation, being at the top of its flourishing, Uglich had 3 cathedrals, 150 churches, 12 monasteries, and the population of 40,000 (compare to 32,000 in 2018).
Another breakdown of the town emerged by the end of 19th century. The absence of railroad connection made Uglich less interesting for business and development, than neighboring cities, where stations were built.
During the Soviet period Uglich got its industrial component. In 1939 Uglich Dam was built, flooding many neighboring villages and the central part of Kalyazin. A year after the town finally got the railroad connection. During the WWII Uglich was a base for children evacuation from blockade Leningrad.
After the Soviet Union collapse Uglich passed through an industrial decline. In the other hand, the tourist industry of the town started to grow.
Uglich is located outside of major travel hubs and routes (and this makes this town more charming). The most suitable transit point for reaching the town is Moscow, having also the proximate airports; travel from Saint Petersburg is also possible.
Going to Uglich by car is the most convenient travelling option, particularly if you are familiar with driving in Russia. Take the M8 highway from Moscow, turn to Sergiev Posad and continue with the regional P104 road. The total driving distance from Moscow to Uglich is 240 km.
Another option (especially for those who are visiting other Golden Ring destinations) is to take the M8 highway to Rostov Veliky, turning there left to the P153 road. Longer distance is compensated with a great monastery view at Borisoglebsky (18 km from Rostov Veliky).
Expect the lack or absence of bilingual signage everythere and use satellite navigation if possible.
Bus service to Uglich is relatively frequent and reliable. Most buses stop at the town's central bus station in the downtown (ul. Berggolts, 15A). You can reach the town from the following points:
- Moscow (from the Central Bus Station at Schelkovskaya metro station, from Aeroport and VDNKh metro stations) - 2-3 times daily in business days, up to 7 times daily in weekends. 5 - 5½ hours.
- Yaroslavl (from the Bus Station with a stop at Yaroslavl Glavny train station) - 1-2 times per hour, 2½ - 3 hours.
- Myshkin - 10 times per day, 1 hour.
- Rostov Veliky - 1 time per day (early morning, with transfer to Yaroslavl), 1½ hours.
- Rybinsk - 4-5 times per day, 1 hr 40 min.
- Tver - 2 times per week (Fridays and Sundays).
Uglich train station is located approximately 2 km away from the town center. The rail link to Uglich is a minor and deadlocked one, so do not expect Russia's usual relative conveniency of travelling by trains: here they are slow and irregular.
The town has overnight train connections with Moscow (9 hours) and Saint Petersburg (16 hours). Their schedule depends on season, so check the options carefully in advance. (Only 3rd class is available.)
Adventurous travellers can also use an option of travelling from Saint Petersburg through Bologoye - the midpoint station between Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Trains from Bologoye proceed to Uglich 3 times a week, a ride takes 9 hours.
There is also a local commuter train going to Uglich from Kalyazin (daily June–September, 2-3 times a week off-season).
As a riverine historical town, Uglich is included into the Volga cruise routes. In the summer the pier of Uglich is quite a busy place supplying the town with new and new portions of tourists. You can buy a cruise tour and join them, but do not expect any regular ship connections to use.
The major attractions of the town are in its central part, within walking distances between them and accommodation facilities.
- Kremlin of Uglich.
- Uglich Dam.
- Museum of Uglich history.
- Russian Central Museum of Hydro Energy, ul. Spasskaya, 33 (center, near the dam), ☏ . Opened in 2006, this is one of the most exiting technical museums in Russia. It has 11 halls at 3 floors filled with interactive exhibition dedicated to water, electricity, dam building, hydropower, and its history in Russia. The museum also contains many items of machinery and equipment, such as hydrogenerators, turbines, gateways etc. Definitely worth seeing.
- Museum of Prison Art.
Each year Uglich hosts a number of festivals, some of them attract international participants:
- February: Winter Leisure in Uglich (Зимние забавы в Угличе). This sport festival brings together the amateurs of sports and winter activities for two days each year. The event keeps the colorful traditions of Russian festivities and includes: toboggan races, ice-water swimming, a mass cross-country ski race, winter mini-football, ice fishing etc. Visitors can enjoy horse carriage rides, traditional Russian games, rental toboggans and ATVs, entertainment shows, and the dishes of Russian cuisine.
- May 28: Blagostina (Saint Prince Dmitry's day). Blagostina is an Orthodox holiday dedicated to Prince Dmitry who died in Uglich and was canonized. In the end of May each year Uglich hosts 10 days of charity events dedicated to the children of Russia. Blagostina attracts pilgrims from all the country, who wish to protect their kids from the evil and illnesses.
- [dead link] June: Uglich Verst, an all-Russian bike festival (Угличская Верста). Two-day event dedicated to biking (verst is a Russian obsolete equivalent of a mile). Both professional and amateur bicyclists of different age take part in this festival. Its program includes mass bike rides, extreme bike shows, competitions in figure biking and slow ride, road cycle race along the Volga, and cross-country biking in the forest.
- [dead link] July: The Face of Russian Province (Лицо русской провинции). July. A 4-days long international photo festival for amateurs and professional photographers. The program includes photography professionals' master classes and workshops, photo contests, and entertaining actions. The event provide an excellent opportunity for the communication and sightseeing. After each festival a photo exhibition is organized and an album with the participants' works is published.
- Mid-August: Uglich Fair of Harvest (Угличская Ярмарка урожая). The middle of August is the harvest time. A Fair is organized at the central trade square of Uglich to present the traditional local organic food: vegetables, fruits, berries, honey, milk, cheese etc. The Fair is supported with processions and buffoon performances.
- End of August: The Fest of Workhorse (Праздник рабочей лошади). August 31 is the Orthodox holiday of St. Flor and Lavr, who are considered as horse patrons. The closest weekend to this date is dedicated in Uglich to the horse festival. The visitors can enjoy horse riding, specialized excursions, horse performances, master classes on treating horses and local crafts.
- Chayka watches. Uglich was known in Soviet Union as a watch-making center. Millions used the local watch brand Chayka. Now the producer has gone to the premium segment, specializing in silver and golden watches. You can find these rather expensive souvenirs in Uglich local stores.
- Smoked fish.
Most restaurants in Uglich expectably offer Russian cuisine. In Saturdays (especially in summer) finding a place to eat can be an issue, as many of them are booked by wedding parties.
- Gallery (Галерея), Uspenskaya Square, 8 (lobby of Volgskaya Riviera hotel). 12:00-00:00.
Uglich offers a good variety of places to stay. If you are going to visit the town in a summer weekend, book your accommodation in advance. English-speaking staff can be available in more expensive hotels only (Moskva, Volgskaya Riviera).
- Fleur (Флер), Selivanovsky pereulok, 9, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Mini-hotel with 12 guest rooms.
- Uspenskaya (Успенская), Uspenskaya Square, 3, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Very centrally located (right opposite the entrance to the kremlin) and very reasonably priced.
- Chayka (Чайка), Zavodskoy proezd, 1A, ☏ , fax: . A bit out of the town center
- Moskva Hotel (Москва), ul. Ostrovskogo, 7, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Run by Intourist Hotel Group, this is one of the best places to stay in Uglich. Excellent location (the bank of the Volga river, city center), 2-3 star rooms, a restaurant with a terrace, and a pool. Bike rental is also available.
- [formerly dead link] Volgskaya Riviera (Волжская Ривьера), Uspenskaya Square, 8, ☏ , . This 4-star hotel is the most comfortable and expensive in Uglich. It is classically designed and ideally located at the high Volga bank nearby the kremlin. There are 80 rooms (from standard to suite), a restaurant, a lobby bar and a spa center with a pool.
- Kalyazin - a town which suffered from Uglich Dam building and is known with a flooded bellfry sticking out from the Volga waters.
- Myshkin - the next old small town down the Volga, 30 km away from Uglich.