Back in time in Vyatskoye and Rostov


Vyatskoye is known in the Yaroslavl region as the “village that wanted to become a city” (yes, failure is heavily implied).  “City” seems like a bit of a long shot to me… “town” would have been a more realistic goal.

I spent an afternoon there visiting curious museums and wondering where all the people were. In the rural countryside, I expected the quiet.  It was in the “downtown” area of Vyatskoye that I was most disturbed.  There were buildings and open squares and roads, just no humans or cars (plenty of mosquitoes, though).  It was as if the city was meant to be occupied by thousands more, but the people simply weren’t there.  It was abandoned.  A ghost town.

Ready for your baptism?


Rostov is another town in the Yaroslavl region (Rostov the Great, not to be confused with Rostov-on-Don).  It boasts of a history of over 1100 years, but a population of only about 30,000.  It sits quietly on the shore of Lake Nero and serves as a tourist hub in the Golden Ring of ancient Russian cities.

Rostov is full of ancient cathedrals and beautiful enamel handicrafts, but eerily quiet.  I found it hard to spend time there, just like in Vyatskoye.  Something in me desperately wanted to run back to civilization before I was forgotten.

Both of these towns were haunting and beautiful in their own right, full of history and longing.  And both would definitely make badass settings for a horror movie.  I called it first, Oren Peli.


  1. John Azzili

    A curiosity: You know that Vyatskoye is the hometown of Kim-Jong-il,the ex-dictator of Nort Korea (He has korean fathers,but born in Russia,and later moved to Korea)

  2. This is a great post Meghan. Places like this remind you of what is going on perhaps in Russia as well as the world. Young people are flooding to the urban areas and abandoning the past, making these little places ghost towns. So sad. But reality right. What are your next plans? Are you done with your year of travel yet? Or do you still have more time?

  3. Niki

    I can’t get enough of these photographs!!! They’re so amazingly vivid and expressive. An exhibit will be in order at some point in your life, you know. Co-organized with your twin most probably :-).

      • I just saw this and smiled. But I have to say: I’m not doing it till we can find an appropriate twin meme for it. Twincamera, twinphoto and twinxhibit don’t cut it yet.

        Also, I want to live in that bright blue house. With you.

        And — the photo of the candles remind me of the one you took in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I’m not sure if Russia and Jerusalem are surprising us with the parallels, or if we are simply seeing them and projecting them everywhere, but they are further proof of the connectedness of the world and, i nthat way, they are making me smile.

  4. Sid Dunnebacke

    Fabulous photos, as always, Meghan. Call me strange, but there are days when a quiet town devoid of crowds of people is really appealing!

    • I’m right there with you Sid, I love escaping the noise of the city too. What was odd about these places was the feeling of abandonment, an emptied town. I’ve never really seen anything quite like it before. I have a theory of my own that the mosquitoes drove them out. 😉

  5. It’s all really beautiful…in a macabre sort of way. Have you ever seen “American Horror Story?” The song the play during the opening credits is running through my head as I scroll through these…

    Especially the doll. Why are dolls so terrifying?

    • I haven’t seen that yet, Loni, but I imagine the theme music would fit well! And yes, dolls creep me out as well. Especially when they have those glassy little eyes that move independently of their heads…

  6. Those are some truly stunning photos, Meghan. Do you mind me asking what camera you use?

    The first village would kind of creep me out – That kind of isolation isn’t something I like. I think of too many horror films.

    • Thanks a lot Ceri! I use a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, and adore it. It’s not a DSLR, but it’s the closest you can get, plus the added benefit of being very compact and durable.

      And yes, that village gave me the creeps too! Maybe it was just the billions of mosquitoes crawling on my skin…

  7. TheBlackTwig

    Interesting towns. The people just abandoned them? Who maintains the city? A handful who were left behind? It’s sad but beautiful at the same time.

    • Yes, sad but beautiful is a good way to describe it. It was just a natural thing that happened over time, I think. There just wasn’t enough commerce to create jobs in these small villages like Vyatkskoye, so people moved to the larger cities to find work. Now there are museums and a few local businesses. I don’t know if the people who work there actually live in Vyatkskoye, or in a larger nearby city. I couldn’t imagine living in such an eerily quiet place!

      • TheBlackTwig

        I treasure solitude. But when you said that it could be a good setting for a horror movie, I feel scared already. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Really interesting.

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