Kolomna is a small city about 120 km to the south-east of Moscow. Our dacha is in that general area, so I pass through it a few times a year.
Just like Moscow and Volokolamsk, Kolomna was founded in the 12th century, and could almost be considered to have been an informal second capital during the 15th century, though it later fell into relative decline.
Its post-Soviet fortunes have been relatively good. While there are no major heavy industries, its larger size (140,000 people), historic attractions, and reasonably diversified service economy enabled it to weather the transition much better than Volokolamsk. During the post-Soviet era, its population “only” declined by about 10% relative to its peak, which isn’t bad given its proximity to the Moscow gravity well. There was even some limited backflow from Moscow to Kolomna to take advantage of the cheaper living costs – one can buy a very respectable detached house for less than $100,000 (that’s the cost of a two bedroom apartment in Moscow’s grittiest outskirts), while a historical multi-room mansion close to the river and the Kremlin can be had for as little as $200,000.
The integrity of the central tourist area is well maintained, with regulations forbidding ahistorical construction or renovations. There are good connections to Moscow, and plenty of amenities, including a recently constructed ice skating rink.
Kolomna was a major center of locomotive manufacturing in the USSR, and trams remain the major form of public transport within the city. There is even a tram museum, though it is currently closed for a lengthy renovation.
The Kolomna Kremlin, constructed in its present form in the early 16th century, encompasses an area almost as big as the Moscow Kremlin, and its walls are even higher on average (though not as thick).
The most colorful legend around the Kolomna Kremlin concerns Marina Mniszech, a Polish femme fatale who married both the False Dmitrys, and bore the second one’s son. Too bad for her, the Russians kicked out the Poles in 1613. She was unable to secure support for a Cossack uprising against the Romanovs, who instead handed her over to the new Russian Tsar. She was imprisoned in the Kolomna Kremlin tower in 1614 and died there soon afterwards… though some speak that she cursed the Romanovs and their descendants, and turned into a magpie and flew away.
The central area has a very nice and reasonably priced restaurant called Knyazhich (pictured: Beef Stroganoff). One can also stop by the hipsterish Ne Prosto Cafe (“not just a cafe”) for refreshments.
Apart from the Kremlin itself, the city happens to be chock full of museums:
- Local museum (краеведческий);
- Blacksmithing museum
- Tram museum (currently closed for restoration)
- The writer Alexander Kuprin’s house
- Kalachnaya museum (a sort of traditional bakery)
- Communal services museum (yes I’m wondering about that as well)
- Samovar museum
I haven’t visited all of these yet.
During the Soviet period, pastila was made according to industrial technologies. The old ways were forgotten, and were only recently restored. While I am not a huge fan of pastila, the traditional Kolomna variant (see above) does genuinely taste much better than the mass produced slabs sold in the supermarkets.