Yelabuga – the name of this small town echoes in the hearts of many people who have been here at least once. This town is unique because its historical part has remained untouched since the middle of the 19th century. This is a genuine museum in the open air.
The collection of photographs presented here features the town mainly during the first decade of the 20th century. Only one photo made in the first half of the 1860s provides a glimpse of Yelabuga in the middle of the 19th century. Some more photos show the town such as it was in the 1950s-1960s.
In the 19th century there were several trade squares in Yelabuga: Khlebnaya (Bread), Rybnaya (Fish), Sennaya (Hay), Konnaya (Horse) and Myasnaya (Meat) ones. However, only one of them – Bread Square – has survived to the present day. This is where lively trade in bread, grain and flour was carried on, and Yelabuga was called the “bread exchange” of Russia.
Bread trade was concentrated in the hands of local merchant family, the Stakheevs, who owned capital comparable to that of the largest merchant dynasties in Russia.
Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street
Leads to the Pokrov Cathedral. People called it “the million street” as the richest people of Yelabuga lived there. Today its larger part is located in the territory of the Suvorov Military School.
Realynoe specialized school
In his book, The History Of The Town Of Yelabuga From The Ancient Times, N. I. Shishkin wrote: “… in its architecture, beauty and spaciousness the building of the Yelabuga non-classical secondary school makes a most majestic impression; this is one of the best buildings in the town.”
This non-classical secondary school was built in 1878 at the expense of Yelabuga merchants.
By the beginning of the 20th century the non-classical secondary school was the largest educational institution of the Vyatka province. Today the building is situated in the territory of the Suvorov Military School.
The Stakheevs’ Brewery
The brewery of the “I. G. Stakheev and the Sons” trade house was founded in 1875 and was considered one of the largest enterprises of the Vyatka province. About 25 thousand vedros (TN: “vedro” is an obsolete Russian unit of measurement equal to about 12 litres) of beer and 3 thousand vedros of honey wine were produced here in the end of the 19th century and sold in the Yelabuga district as well as in the Kazan and Ufa provinces. The complex is a typical example of industrial architecture characteristic of late 19th century.
It was laid out according to the site plan of 1784. This is the most beautiful street of the town’s historic part. It was mostly used for trade.
It was in this central trade street of the town that most of the shops, groceries and wine vaults were located.
This house was donated to the district and women’s schools by Kapiton Yakovlevich Ushkov, a merchant of the first guild and a Descendant and Honorary citizen, on September 8, 1860. Later the school was reorganized into a women’s gymnasium. Maryna Ladynina, a future star of the Soviet movies, studied here in 1914. Today the Institute of Additional Professional Education of the Yelabuga Institute of the Kazan Federal University is situated here.
Fish caught in the Kama River was very much appreciated. It can be confirmed by the fact that the heads of fishermen's artels were awarded with hay meadows as far back as in the 17th century.
Is one of the town’s trade centres. Fishery used to be one of the most widespread occupations of local people. It’s from here that live fish was delivered to the tsar’s table since the reign of Ivan the Terrible.
A fire unit with a watchtower and police department (Moskovskaya Street)
This is a monument dating back to the second half of the 19th century, one of the most exciting examples of public facilities of a small town. The first floor of the building was occupied by the police department, and the second one – by the fire brigade.
In the 19th century the industry in the Yelabuga was predominantly artisanal, so fire broke out quite frequently and sometimes destroyed whole residential quarters and streets. For instance, a terrible fire happened in the town in 1850, destroying about 500 wooden houses, public shops, drinking establishments and even the bridge over the Bug River.
After the fire a decree was issued “…to build stone houses with fire resistant division walls”, and a “building for the fire brigade” was built. The town was built in stone practically from scratch, and since that time the old Yelabuga has survived virtually in its initial state.
Is one of the most beautiful Orthodox cathedrals in the Kama region, and Yelabuga’s architectural symbol. During the pre-revolutionary time it was distinguished not only by its appearance, but also by the luxury of its interior.
During its existence the cathedral was rebuilt several times and acquired its current appearance by 1864 only. Today it is a five-dome church with a five-storied bell tower 57 metres high, built in the Russian Provincial Classicism style.
St. Nicholas' Church
The church was consecrated in the name of Saint Nicholas. A wooden building already existed in the middle of the 17th century, and in the 18th century it was rebuilt in stone. The Epiphany Church was situated nearby. By the end of the 19th century both churches deteriorated, and a stone cathedral was built at the expense of church-goers. In 1848-1852 it was rebuilt into a two-storied one. The Saint Nicholas Icon found in the Svyataya Chasha location in the first middle of the 18th century was kept in St. Nicholas' Church.
A legend says that a cathedral in the honour of the Mantle (Pokrov) of Our Lady was founded by Ivan the Terrible. In his book, The History Of The Town Of Yelabuga, N. I. Shishkin wrote: “…having conquered Kazan, tsar Ivan IV Vasilievich went to Solikamsk down the Kama river, but got ill on the way and had to stop at the mouth of Toyma, in the place where the town of Yelabuga is now situated. He ordered that a Pokrov church be founded here and donated a Three Saints icon. This is why Yelabuga was initially called the Village of Tryokhsvyatskaya (of Three Saints).
A stone church was built at the expense of the donations made by the church-goers in the beginning of the 19th century. During the Soviet rule the Three Saints Icon, the main treasure of the Pokrov Church, disappeared. After repair and restoration the church was reopened for service in 1989.
The complex of the Kazansko-Boroditsky Convent dedicated to the Our Lady of Kazan Icon
Was built at the expense of Yelabuga merchants, brothers Grigory Ivanovich Stakheev and Ivan Ivanovich Stakheev in 1868.
In 1928 the authorities closed the monastery: the nuns were evicted, the church and the bell tower were taken apart. Only the foundation was preserved. From the beginning of the Great Patriotic War and until 1948 a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers was situated in the monastery’s territory.
In 1993 several monastery buildings were returned to the Kazan Diocese, and in 1995 a monastic community was restored here.
A mosque in the Tatar suburb
The number of Tatars in the pre-revolutionary Yelabuga was equal to about 10 per cent of the total population. White-stone classical facades of the buildings in the merchant centre perfectly matched the bright many-coloured wooden houses with extravagant carved ornaments located in the Tatar suburb, in the centre of which a mosque with a high minaret built in the 1840s soared. During the Soviet times the mosque was closed, and as years passed by, it deteriorated and was demolished. In 1996 Al Kadyr mosque was built of red brick on this historic spot. It is practically an exact copy of the lost wooden mosque.
Куратор выставки — Елабужский государственный музей-заповедник.