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Nizhny Novgorod Oblast

Lake Svetloyar

Numerous legends are connected with Lake Svetloyar. The most well known of them is the legend of the town of Kitezh, transcribed in the Kitezh Chronicle. It was the inspiration for the opera by Rimsky-Korsakov «The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya», and was the subject matter for numerous works of art.

According to the story, Grand Prince Georgy Vsevolodovich initially built the town of Maliy Kitezh on the Volga, now known as Gorodets. Later, «after crossing the quiet and rusty rivers of Uzola, Sanda, and Kerzhenets», he reached Svetloyar and was so amazed by the beauty and grandeur of the spot that he founded Bolshoy Kitezh there. According to the Chronicle, the construction of the city took three years, from May 1, 1165 to September 30, 1168.

After learning about the beautiful Kitezh, Khan Batu decided to conquer it. The Mongols captured Maliy Kitezh, and Georgy and his troop hid themselves in the forest city. One of the captured warriors, under torture, told the invaders about the secret paths leading to Lake Svetloyar. The enemies went to the beautiful Kitezh, but as soon as they entered the city, fountains burst from under the ground. The water flooded the city. Lake Svetloyar hid Kitezh from invaders. This is how the legend of a city that never gave in to the enemy was formed. It is said that people with pure souls and clear hearts can hear the ringing of Kitezh bells above the surface of the forest lake, and see the glimmer of church domes in the depths of the lake waters.

Lake Svetloyar is oval-shaped, measuring 500 by 350 m. It is fairly deep — up to 40 m. In 1997, it was recognized as a natural monument of federal importance.

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Address: Vladimirskoye Village, Voskresensky District, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast

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