Elabuga is a provincial Russian town. (Natalia Verderevskaya)

Articles catalog :: Myths of the Elabuga city

"Devils ancient settlement" fount of myths

Devil’s fort” – this is the name of a place on high Kama bank where restored stone tower – symbol of Elabuga – is placed. So why “Devil’s fort”? There are several curious legends as answer for this question.

????? ??????? ???????? - ?????? ????-????????Den of Dragon-oracle.

During one of the famous academic missions, Devil’s fort was explored by Russian traveler Nikolay Petrovich Rychkov. In his book “Magazine or a daily memoirs of captain Rychkov trip over various provinces of the Russian state in 1769 and 1770” he told the legend of dragon-oracle.

It said that previously a temple of ancient pagans stood on the place of Devil's fort. According to legend, Devil's fort got its name from the snake-oracle (or devil) that lived in the pagan temple standing on a high hill on the right Kama bank. Snake-oracle was known over the whole neighborhood (and also far beyond it) due to its predictions. Oracle’s answers were famous for their accuracy and therefore those who wanted to know their fate came to the oracle from all the sides. As payment for a prediction, the snake got human victims from captured enemies.

Before the Bulgarian kingdom was destroyed, the snake suddenly disappeared. Questions of tsar to the oracle about the way of saving his country and his people from those who was coming from the North were vain. There was no answer ... Soon the tsar and his people became victims of a powerful enemy.

There is also a fact common with the legend about the snake – there were special gates – "Elbuga gates" in Kazan – and they faced on Alabuga. Another legend is related to this period – it tells us that a terrible snake stole the beautiful daughter from one of Elabuga baies and a brave horseman Churnay rescued her ...

????????? ?????-???? ???? ???????? ??????? ???????? ???? ???????Pitfall (Bull).

Title Devil's fort is known from XVI century. Russian priest Ivan Glazatyi, who was in Kazan captivity for 20 years, wrote the “Kazan history”. It says: “In some Kazan ulus there was a small empty town, it stood on high bank of the Kama river, Rus calls it devils’ fort…It is a sacrificial place of ancient Bulgarians. Devil … turns boats floating along the river and drowns them”.

By the legend, priests lived in the tower of Devil's fort. Due to Kazan professor Erdman we may read next about the legend "... not far from Devil's fort and a pitfall now also known as the Bull. The water rushes to it from the opposite bank with a terrible power, and crafts can easily become victims of waves ... priests having received gifts from people floating along the Kama river, took away their ships and saved from destruction”.

Indeed, this pitfall was in Kama at Elabuga, until the beginning of navigation along the river. So the stone was destroyed for navigability over the river and to avoid tragedies.

???? ??? ? ?? ????? ????????? ???????Devil, in the flesh.

One of the most famous legends that for sure are told to the tourists when visiting the towers on Devil's fort relates to the period of Kazan Khanate conquest.

Devil liked priest's daughter. And he decided to marry her. The priest did not want to give his daughter in marriage to devil, and he made a trick. “Hey, devil, build a white-stone church on the bank of Kama in one night, - said the priest”. Devil started to work with zeal, he worked for the whole night and when he almost finished, cocks crowed suddenly. He was not in time to construct the cross on the roof. Devil did not fulfill priest’s will, so he won’t see priest's daughter. And what devil built – scattered of itself with cockcrow. And till those days Kama bank near the foot of settlement is littered with huge stones ...

Severed foot of hero.

Writer A.N. Radishchev, returning from Ilimsk exile on May 27, 1797, where he was sent by the will of the Empress Catherine II for his book “Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow”, visited Elabuga. When the barge on which Radishchev traveled stood at the pier, the writer became interested in the tower overlooking the Kama. A conductor helped Radishchev to climb the mountain and told the story of the settlement and the legend extant in his book.

From the diary of A.N. Radishchev: “... this building for sure was built by Devil, there are notes about this in spiritual direction and that the castle really was besieged by some strong man, whose leg was cut off, and it is still kept on the porch of the church”.

Although it is likely that this legend is a variation of the previous legend about devil and the pope, as Radishchev’s diary is the only known source, where the legend of the hero and his severed leg is presented.

Each legend is beautiful in its own way, each one has its evidence, but still a person himself decides which of them to believe (or disbelieve). But when tourists and passers-by ask a question about the name of Devil's fort to locals and guides – all as one start to tell them their favorite legends about piece of mythical Elabuga history.


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