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Guide to Torzhok: Golden Gimp, Pozharsky Cutlets and Russian Palladianism

Torzhok is experiencing a renaissance. Until recently, luxurious palaces and cathedrals were quietly withering—now a lot is being restored here, interesting start-ups are appearing, and cafes are opening. We tell you where the pyramids come from, what the Russian Leonardo da Vinci built and where there are fire cutlets.

Torzhok is one of the oldest cities in Russia; the exact date of its foundation has not been established, so it has recently celebrated its millennium twice. It all started with the fact that the Novgorod merchants arranged a new auction near Tvertsa-a small market like this: the inhabitants still call themselves Novotors.

The fate of the city has been determined by roads for centuries. It owes its appearance to the Tvertsa River—a water trade route from Novgorod to the south passed along it. With the advent of St. Petersburg, Tvertsa entered the Vyshnevolotsk water system: building materials, flour, and hemp. At the same time, Peter conceived the “sovereign road” between Moscow and St. Petersburg, but it was already built under Catherine-it was under her that Torzhok reached its peak: the empress turned the stop between the capitals into a luxurious architectural ensemble with a traveling palace. The decline of the city is also associated with the road, the Nikolaev railway: it passed through Tver, bypassing Torzhok, and it lost its imperial gloss, becoming quiet and provincial. Recently, a pandemic boost to the development of domestic tourism has cheered up the city: life is in full swing here again.

Getty Images/Santiaga

How to get there

If you are traveling by train , you first need to get to Tver by Lastochka or Sapsan; it is an hour from Moscow and a little less than three from St. live: house-withhouse-with clean, tidy rooms and the best restaurant in Both an "Onyx" of noble interiors, plus a spa hotel with a hammam, a billiard room, and a bowling alley. And, closer to the city center, The Staroyamskaya Hroom is both a game of noble interiors and a spa hotel with a hammam, a billiard room, and a bowling alley. in the huts or in the A-frame house.

Palace Square

"Expedition to Torzhok"

Catherine II appreciated comfort and quality service. Along the government highway-the "sovereign road"-she ordered the construction of a whole network of travel palaces so that it would be possible to stop every few tens of kilometers. The palace in Torzhok was built simultaneously with the road and became a “standard project”; palaces in Gorodnya, Medny, Vydropuzhsk, and Vyshny Volochek were later built on its model.

The palace itself is under restoration, but you can see the preserved ensem  highway—theation square estate—cheated monuments, he showed everything in the wrong direction, so they let him down.

Boris and the Gleb Monastery

Getty Images/Santiaga

Catherine II built a policy of enlightened absolutism. She liked the idea of ​​the enlighteners about the rejection of medieval ignorance and a return to the high ideals of the Renaissance and antiquity. In terms of architecture, these ideas were perfectly formulated by Andrea Palladio, a 16th-century Venetian architect. The architect who dusted off the Roman classics and proclaimed the importance of symmetry, classical order, and contextual planning Catherine She needed her own Nikolai Lvov , who was born near Torzhok. He translated the works of Palladio into Russian—"Fur Booands on Architecture" became the desktop of Russia. Russianassicists will be around for centuries.

Lvov himself was a Renaissance man—a Russian da Vinci—a self-taught universalist, he was keenly interested in botany, mechanics and geology, dramaturgy and drawing, history and poetry, studied music and translations. As an architect, he began with the estates of the Novotorzhsky district, and for Torzhok he designed the main cathedral of the Borisoglebsky Monastery. The monastery itself is considered one of the oldest in Russia; according to some sources, it is even older than the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Be sure to climb the Candle Tower - from the observation deck you can see the whole city.

Palladianism in Russia is more than an architectural style; it is the idea of ​​empire, expressed in stone and carried through the centuries. Classical estates with colonnades; slender embankments of St. Petersburg; rotunda churches; palaces of the Stalinist Empire-all this appeared thanks to Nikolai Lvov.

Hotel Pozharsky

"Expedition to Torzhok"

Influential nobles, princes, foreign merchants—a demanding audience traveled along the St. Petersburg Highway. They needed a hotel to match. The Pozharsky family was famous for its special hospitality: according to professor Dmitry Likhachev , "the entire Russian culture of the 19th century passed through the Pozharsky hotel."

In the 1830s, Daria Pozharskaya inherited the hotel and the tavern. She not only gave a warm welcome to the guests but also finalized the family recipe. Her father, Evdokim, cooked veal cutlets in white bread crumbs. Daria came up with the idea of ​​using tender chicken instead of veal. According to one legend, the idea was suggested to her by a French guest: he did not have enough money for an overnight stay, and he paid with a recipe. Crispy, juicy cutlets became a real bestseller among travelers from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Pushkin even left a poetic recommendation to a friend: “Dine at Pozharsky’s in Torzhok at your leisure, taste fried cutlets and go light.”

Nicholas I once tasted Daria's cutlets and was so taken with them that the innkeeper began to visit the court frequently and even took part in the baptism of Peter Volkonsky's grandson. And the recipe was included in all cookbooks and still serves as the main culinary brand of the city. The hotel building has come down to us in a rebuilt form, and now it is a cultural event site.

Where to try meatballs

The restaurant "Onyx" has five versions of Pozharsky cutlets: chicken, veal, pike perch, according to the author's recipe, and even soup with cutlets. Here you can not only taste the reimagined hits of the local cuisine but also get to know them through a master class on making Novotorzhskaya marshmallows or a concert of rare folk instruments; the hostess develops a community of caring local residents, organizes expeditions around Torzhok and its environs, and takes you rafting along the Osuga and Tvertsa.

A more touristy option is the Lira cafe : cutlets are cooked according to a recipe from 1853; guests are greeted by a woman dressed as Daria Pozharskaya.

The Museum of Gold Sewing

Demchikova, Anna

From time immemorial, Torzhok has been famous for its embroiderers: since the 13th century, local craftswomen have been decorating bags, purses, hats, morocco boots, and church vestments. For embroidery, they used gimp—threads that were drawn from gold or silver. The work was very complex and painstaking, hence the idiom "pull the gimp".

Since the city near the sovereign’s road had grown rich, courtiers and even Catherine II herself had appeared among the customers: she liked the dress so much that she wished to meet the craftswoman personally and did not believe that a simple girl could create such a miracle. The empress was far from the new ethics and decided this: beautiful things should be done by beautiful peopleordered themrdered to gather beauties from all over the country and send them to Torzhok to learn gold embroidery. Since then, Torzhok has been famous for its brides. The school is still open: you can attend a master class, make your own souvenir, or purchase products made by local needlewomen. The city also has a Museum of Golden Sewing—the only one in Russia.

Two Ascension churches

© Anna Demchikova

The oldest of the temples of Torzhok is a wooden church from the 17th century on the outskirts of the city. At first it was Voznesenskaya, but over time the building dilapidated, and a stone New Ascension Church was built nearby. In the 19th century, the wooden church was restored without a single nail and consecrated in honor of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God. In the Soviet years, she was almost sent to the Vasilevo Museum of Wooden Architecture, but they changed their minds: the church remained in its place and is now operating again. Inside you can see 200-year-old adirondack paintings, and in front of the church there is an observation deck on the high bank of Tvertsa.

All-Russian Historical and Ethnographic Museum

In the 1980s, philologist and culturologist Dmitry Likhachev proposed the creation of a federal museum in order to explore and preserve the cultural heritage of the province. A competition was announced among the cities, and Torzhok won—"a small town with a great history," an economic and cultural center with a thousand-year history, where the architectural environment of the 18th and 19th centuries has been preserved. The branches of the museum are scattered throughout the city, each located in an architectural monument. Restoration work, excursions, lectures, archaeological exhibitions, folklore festivals—all this takes place in the city at the initiative of the museum; follow current events on the website .

"Expedition to Torzhok"

Homesteads around Torzhok

Noble estates in the vicinity of Torzhok deserve a separate, thoughtful trip. But once here by car, it is worth seeing at least the work of Nikolai Lvov. Nikolskoe-Cherenchitsy  is, in fact, his birthplace and the site of his first architectural experiments. From the main house, only memories of the unique air conditioning system and steam kitchen, invented by Lvov, remained. But Mitino The Mitino belonged to a distant relative of the architect, here again a glacier-pyramid. And of course, Znamenskoye-Rayek  is a necklace estate, perhaps the most famous creation of Lviv. If you have time, you can see the neighboring estates of Bernovo and Gruziny, or you can combine a trip to Torzhok with a visit to Staritsa.

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