Dedinovo: Cradle of the Naval Fleet
Dedinovo – Church of the Ascension – Eagle monument – Lukhovitsy

Debates on where and when the Russian naval fleet originated continue till the present day. The contenders include Voronezh, Pereslavl-Zalessky, and naturally St. Petersburg, yet Dedinovo is rarely on the list. Meanwhile, this village on the Oka River, 135 kilometers from Moscow (via Novoryazanskoye Highway), has serious reasons to be considered the cradle of the Russian naval ships.

1. Dedinovo
  • Ferry across the Oka River
  • The Oka in Dedinovo
  • Old Dedinovo
From the Oka River, you get a wonderful view of the ancient village, the Trinity Church built in 1647, the flood plain meadows and backwaters that attracted the attention of ship-builders back in the 17th century. 
The first adventure of this trip will take place after you get to Lukhovitsy, take a left turn and in a few kilometers, come to the Oka River. The village of Dedinovo is on the other side, so you will have to take the ferry across the river. This is very appropriate, if you recall that you’re actually travelling to the origins of the Russian fleet. 

Dedinovo has been known since the 15th century as a village supplying the court with fish. By the way, this pastime is still popular here. If you’re keen on fishing and you happened to bring your fishing gear along, you will certainly be glad you did.

The breaking point in the history of the village was 1667, when the Great Tsar Alexis ordered to make ships for his campaigns from Astrakhan to the Khvalyn (Caspian) Sea. Dedinovo was chosen for the first Russian dockyard.

This decision made by the Tsar came as no surprise to this rich village as river boats had already been built here before. Moreover, Dedinovo merchants were doing business not only in the neighboring Kolomna but also in Oryol, Bryansk, Yelets, Livny, and certainly Moscow.
2. Church of the Ascension
  • Church of the Ascension
  • House of the merchants Khromovs
  • Merchant houses in Dedinovo
  • Local history museum in Dedinovo
After you moor in Dedinovo, the first thing to do is to visit the local history museum on Brigadnaya Street. A tour around its exhibition will certainly immerse you in the right historical context, and the upcoming walk will surely be a more vivid experience.
Do take note of the huge stone Church of the Ascension built in 1809–1817 – it is the main architectural and conceptual landmark of Dedinovo. The history of the church’s construction is quite symbolic. It was sponsored by a former peasant Yakov Krivonosov, who earned his start-up capital at a rock quarry in Ust-Izhora, mining stone for construction of St. Petersburg, and became a merchant. 

After walking all the way through the village, we will reach a huge flood plain meadow, with the stone Trinity Church built in the mid-17th century towering above us. This is exactly the place where the first Russian dockyard for navy vessels was located, which is celebrated by a monument to the first warship in Russia.
3. Monument to the first warship in Russia
  • Eagle monument and Trinity Church
  • Oryol (Eagle) Cadet Corps in Dedinovo
  • Old Dedinovo
However, the frigate did not just fall into oblivion: the ship on the steeple of the Admiralty, the symbol of St. Petersburg, is a copy of the legendary Eagle, built in Dedinovo near Moscow. 
The history of this ship is the following: in 1667, a boyar Afanasy Ordin-Nashchokin was in charge of the execution of the Tsar’s order, whereas the construction of the ship itself, called “the Eagle,” was delegated to a Dutchman Lambert Gelt, who was assisted by Yakov Poluektov and Stepan Petrov. 

In May 1668, the Eagle was floated out, but it took its first voyage only in April 1669, after a winter in Dedinovo, under the tricolored flag – the first warship’s flag in Russian history. A Dutchman David Butler was appointed the vessel’s captain. After three and a half months of sailing, the Eagle reached the harbor in Astrakhan. 

And that’s where the ship suffered a tragic blow of destiny. In 1670, after Astrakhan had been taken over by Cossack rebels led by Stepan Razin, the Eagle was devastated – it lost its cannons and sails. One legend says it was totally burned down by the rebels; the other says it slowly deteriorated, once left off-hand.

However, the frigate did not just fall into oblivion: the ship on the steeple of the Admiralty, the symbol of St. Petersburg, is a copy of the legendary Eagle, built in Dedinovo near Moscow. 

Recently, a Cadet Corps named after that very ship was established not far from the monument – exactly at the place where the shipyards were located during the epoch of the Tsar Alexis.
4. Lukhovitsy
  • Cucumber monument in Lukhovitsy
On the way back to Moscow via Lukhovitsy, take note of a small local museum next to the train station. Part of its exposition is also dedicated to the Eagle of Dedinovo.

In Lukhovitsy, you should take your time. Otherwise you might miss two curious sights, characteristic of this district. The first is a bronze monument to Postman Pechkin (a famous cartoon character), opened in 2008. We have no idea as to why this two-meter giant is standing exactly here, but everyone has gotten used to him by now and believes that he’s local.

The second place worth attention is another absolutely hieratic sculpture – a monument to a cucumber. Its presence here makes perfect sense: cucumber is the key vegetable in this area. The silent competition between cucumbers from Lukhovitsy and Suzdal encourages local gardeners to try all kinds of cultivation experiments.

Where to eat

In Dedinovo, you will hardly find any public catering facilities. In Lukhovitsy, you can have a meal either at the Luch café (13 Kuibyshev Street) or at Elegiya (6 Pushkin Street) – a modest and quick makeshift meal, not to waste too much time before a long journey.

Written by Maxim Gureyev

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