The history of the place

The first records of inhabitants dwelling on the territory of today’s Nicola-Lenivets (word for word “Nicola-the Lazy-bones) are dated around three thousand years B.C. On the high left bank of the Ugra river there appeared a little settlement of ancient Slavs-Vyatiches, which was later on fortified by an earth mound and a wooden fortress. The strong fortification facilities helped the Slavs to repel incursions of nomadic tribes and protected the settlement over the years. To this very day research teams have been conducting archeological digs on the territory of the ancient settlement, investigating historical heritage. Numerous ancient implements, utensils and hunting devices are exhibited now in a museum of local history.

During the following centuries, which were the time of strengthening of Russia state system, the Ugra river became an important strategic object. On the left bank of the river there arouse numerous outposts, which allowed to rebut the enemy contentions. Due to this fact the Ugra river was named as “The belt of the Blessed Virgin”. Many of historical battles took place on the banks of the Ugra river. The present name of the settlement Nicola-Lenivets appeared after one of them. The legend is as follows: Once in the beginning of the Middle Ages on the eve of Snt. Nicolay day an enemy host attacked the settlement from the opposite bank of the Ugra river. The history does not say whether it was a horde of Tatars or troops of Lithuanian knights, but their unexpected attack dashed the defense of the Russian warriors, which had to escape in order to keep their homes intact. The walkover blunted the enemies’ vigilance. They made a big feast and became lazy and slothful. At dawn Russian warriors smashed the enemy host. Since then the settlement was named Nicola in honor of Snt. Nicolay, whose protection helped the Russians to win the battle. Word “Lenivets” (Lazy-bones) was added in the memory of the fast defeat of both armies, as the place itself disposes people to laziness and idleness.

In year 1480 Nikola-Lenivets became the center of the Great standing on the Ugra river, which put an end to the Tatar Yoke. In memory of that prominent event there was built a wooden chapel. In the 19th century it was replaced by a stone church of the Holy Trinity, which became the most eminent religious and cultural center for the local people. The church was built on the funds of a local landlord Muromtsev. Each of the dwellers contributed his share into the work. They worked a loam quarry and built baking ovens for brick manufacture and organized numerous forge and wood engraving shops. On the maps of the 19th century the settlement is marked by a symbol “from 2 000 to 10 000 inhabitants”. With the start of Soviet times the life of local people changed greatly. Religious service was abolished, the relics of the local church were removed, the iconostas was destroyed, the bells were thrown down from the bell tower, the priest was repressed. The cultural center was moved to Zvizzhi. (the root of the name means “squeal”). The legend says: One day during the period of the Great standing on the Ugra river a Russian hero called Nicola tortured a pig with his sword, looking at the burning fires of the enemy camp. The pig squeal put the fear of God into the enemies. Since then the place took it’s name – Zvizzhi. The central farmstead of kolkhoz “Druzhba” replaced the landlord manor. The only thing which reminds the olden times is a part of linden alley leading to Nicola-Lenivets. The Great Patriotic War brought even more destruction. The German army conquered local towns and villages easily. But in 1943 on their escape route they reduced all the houses to ashes. Only the church remained untouched.

The only merit of Soviet government was the foundation of milk plant in the building of the ravaged church, which helped to save the unique temple from destruction during the times of the “Khrushev’s presecution”. The plant was closed in the 70th. However by the early 90th the church lied in ruins. There were only seven tumbledown houses left in the village inhabited by three local people: Granny Katia, Anna Romanovna and Ivan Sokolov (Uncle Vanja).

As he decided to build the house there, he has offered the same idea to his  friends: doctor Alexander Goryachev and artist Nikolay Polissky who have agreed to join him and since 1990 the building of new houses has begun.

Many remarkable people came to stay for a while and help at the first stage of development of village. In 1990 designer Vasilij Kopejko participated in night piratical wood campaigns and in 1997 decided to join the friends and built his own house in Nicola. In 1995 architect Anna Chizhova with her daughter Julia Bychkova  came from England to Nicola for a short visit but stayed forever and changed her surname to Shetinina. In 1995 businessman Igor Kireev joined the company. He financed the restoration of the Church of Holy Trinity (2000-2003) under the initiative and the direction of Vasily Schetinin and by the project of reconstruction done by architectural bureau "Terra". Igor also supported Nikolay Polissky's art activity.

In 1998 there appeared an access road, which was constructed with support of the local governor. Thanks to this fact the inhabitants of Nicola and their guests got an opportunity to drive to the place in any weather.

Nowadays Nicola-Lenivets is a registered nature-conservative and historical zone which belongs to National Park “Ugra”, founded in 1992.

Since 2000 the village of Nikola-Lenivets has  become an outpost of modern art, thanks to the work of Nikolay Polissky. Together with peasants, local residents from nearby villages, he has created set of objects around the village. It were armies of snowmen, towers made of hay, fire wood, rods. To look on the objects art experts, journalists and spectators have started to arrive. Polissky organized several art events, when he understood that it is time to take things more seriously. And in 2005 he made a decision to found the festival, called “Archstoyanie” (“Architectural Standing”). To do that he invited inhabitants of Nikola-Lenivets: Vasily Kopeyko, Anna Shchetinina and Vasily Shchetinin as the organizers of the event. Curator work was offered to Julia Bychkova. All this gave birth to a non-commercial partnership «Nikola-Lenivets Art Crafts», renamed afterwards to «Project Nikola-Lenivets».

The first festival "Archstoyanie" took place in Nikola-Lenivets in 2006. 

Атон Кочуркин   Anton Kochurkin
The curator of project 2011, architect
Николай Полисский
  Nikolay Polissky
Artist, the mastermind of the festival.
Юлия Бычкова   Julia Bychkova
The head of project 2011, architect  
Василий Щетинин
  Vasiliy Schetinin
organizer, the discoverer of the Nikola-lenivets village.
Инна Прилежаева   Inna Prilezhaeva
Анна Щетинина
  Anna Schetinina - architect, organizer, president of "Project Nicola-Lenivets",
  Vasiliy Kopeyko
designer, organizer


Contact us

Archstoyanie 2013. July 26-28

Katya Porutchik, tourism manager

contacts for press
Margarita Chubukova, PR & communications

Catalogs of previous FESTIVALS