The town of Kirzhach is the administrative center of the Kirzhach district of the Vladimir region, with a population of 27,439 (2016). It is located on the Kirzhach River (the left tributary of the Klyazma River), 125 km to the west of Vladimir and 90 km to the north-east of Moscow.


The name of the town comes from the Kirzhach River, which means "left" in the Mordovian dialects (coming from Finno-Ugric tribes inhabiting these lands in the first centuries of our era). Kirzhach was founded on the left bank of the river of the same name, which is the left tributary of the Klyazma. 

The first mention of the settlement on the Kirzhach River is found in the spiritual charter of the Moscow Prince Ivan I Kalita, according to different versions, either in 1328 or in 1332. According to other sources, Kirzhach emerged as a settlement under the Annunciation Monastery, founded by Sergius of Radonezh in 1358. The heyday of the monastery is in the 15th-18th centuries. In 1764, as a result of secularization reform of Catherine II, the Annunciation Monastery was abolished. Its temples became parish.

The settlement near the former monastery developed, which was favored by its convenient location on the Stromynka road (it connected Moscow, Yuryev-Polsky, Suzdal, Vladimir). The population of the villages Kirzhach and Selivanova Gora (on the right bank of the Kirzhach River) was engaged mainly in silk-weaving and carpentry. Carpenter were called "arguny", on behalf of the village of Argunovo, near Kirzhach, a carpentry center. "Argunovo decor" on the huts, iconostases was known even in Moscow.

In 1778, with the formation of the Vladimir governorate (since 1796 – the Vladimir province), the villages Kirzhach and Selivanova Gora, which represented a virtually unified whole on the basis of established economic ties, were merged into the district town of Kirzhach. In 1781, the town received its coat of arms, which reflected a close neighborhood with the forest: an owl with outstretched wings, sitting on a stump, is depicted on a green background. There were many owls in the forests at that time in the vicinity of the town. The modern coat of arms of Kirzhach, approved in 2009, is a reconstruction of the historical coat of arms of 1781, only the owl and the earth became gold. It is believed that the image of a wise bird symbolizes the intrinsic calmness, restraint, unhurried, weighted decision-making peculiar to Kirzhach residents.

The right of the county town Kirzhach used only 18 years, and then the center of the district moved to Pokrov, through which a large Vladimir road was built. With a decrease in the value of Stromynka, the development of Kirzhach slowed. Many of its residents, deprived of income, went to work in Moscow or the Moscow province, the silk factories in Fryanovo and Schelkovo.

The silence of a small town was interrupted by the Patriotic War of 1812. Kirzhach actively participated in the Vladimir militia, forming armed horse patrols on the Stromynka road and collecting riflemen. Parts of the Vladimir militia fought selflessly with fires, typhus and cholera in Moscow left by Napoleon. According to a legend, when the survived militias, exhausted by typhus, returned by Stromynka road to their native places in the winter of 1813, they stopped near Kirzhach in the pine forest, so as not to put the townspeople at risk of infection. This place on the right bank of the river, between Kirzhach and the village of Lisitsyno, is today known under the name of "Nitty hill" and is protected as a historical monument.  

In the first quarter of the 19th century, the development of industry accelerated in Kirzhach. Many former migrants to Moscow factories began to master the silk and velvet production in Kirzhach itself and nearby villages. In the construction of silk-weaving and dyeing-finishing manufactories and factories, the leading role was played by the merchants- entrepreneurs, father and son Solovyovs, and later – by their children and grandchildren. In the 19th century, the Solovyovs dynasty owned a number of silk-weaving, yarn-dyeing, cotton-printing, calico-textile factories, equipped with the latest technology, and also they established trading houses. At the same time, theworking conditions at these factories were very difficult, the working day lasted for 12 hours, work of children was widely used.

However, almost all the charitable undertakings and construction that determined the town look in the second half of the 19th century, were associated with the name of A.A. Solovyov: the town Mutual Insurance Society, a women's two-year school, a teacher's seminary, a hospital, an almshouse.

Businessmen Arsentyev brothers, Derevenshchikov brothers, etc. also contributed  to the development of the silk-weaving industry and the improvement of Kirzhach in the second half of the 19th century. By 1913 almost 20% of Russian silk fabrics were produced in Kirzhach and surrounding villages.

In the middle of the 1860s, on the desolate bank of the Kirzhach River (now the village of Krasny Oktyabr), the Shaposhnikov’s copper-brass plant was founded, where up to four hundred workers were employed.

The factory for the production of copper-brass dishes in 1931 was redesigned to the "Krasny Oktyabr" plant, which produced lighting fixtures for cars and tractors (since 1992 – "Avtosvet"). In 1932 the Silk Combine was set up on the basis of the Solovyov factories, which became one of the largest in the country.

In 1929, Kirzhach became the center of the district as part of the Alexandrov Okrug of the Ivanovo Industrial Region.

During the Great Patriotic War, Kirzhach was one of the strongholds of the circular defense of the capital, where gliders, paratroopers and military pilots were trained. In 1942-1943, the famous female combat air regiment based in the town, led by the renowned pilot M.M. Raskova. She was one of the first women to receive the title of Hero of the Soviet Union (1938). The street on which the pilots of the air regiment lived during the war was named after her.

After the war, since 1960, the first cosmonaut detachment was trained at the Kirzhach aerodrome, including Yu.A. Gagarin, G.S. Titov, V.M. Komarov, A.N. Nikolaev, V.F. Bykovsky, P.R. Popovich, etc. Preparation of the first cosmonauts was entrusted to deal with N.P. Kamanin, the Hero of the Soviet Union, the legendary pilot who led the expedition to rescue the polar explorers-Chelyuskin in 1934. The flight test complex of the Scientific Research Institute of Automatic Devices (now the Research Institute of Parachute Construction) was located in Kirzhach. It was their specialists who created the parachute system for the landing of the first cosmonaut of the Earth Yu.A. Gagarin. Several major Kirzhach streets are named after the cosmonauts. On the facade of the district house of culture there is a memorial plaque telling about the performance of Yuri Gagarin before the Kirzhach residents in March 1963. March 27, 1968 during a training flight near Kirzhach tragically perished Yu.A. Gagarin and V.S. Seregin. On the site of their death in 1975 a memorial was opened.

In 1944 Kirzhach became the center of the district in the Vladimir region. In 1963 the Kirzhach district was abolished, and in 1965 – re-established.

In 2005, the boundaries of the town significantly expanded due to the accession to the city of the village of Krasny Oktyabr, which became one of the Kirzhach microdistricts.


The basis of the modern economy of Kirzhach is the production of machinery and electrical equipment. Once a major manufacturer of lighting auto fittings, the "Avtosvet" plant was redeveloped into an Industrial park in 2013, and production was transferred to OJSC "Osvar" in Vyazniki and LLC "Avtosvet" in Dimitrovgrad. The Kirzhach industrial complex includes the following enterprises: Kirzhach Instrument Plant (KIZ), the leading Russian manufacturer of metal  cutting tools; Kirzhach furniture factory, which produces kitchen sets; Plywood plant "EkoFanera"; Holding "Children's Clothing", including the former Kirzhach silk factory, which produces polyester, raincoat, costume and other fabrics; Kirzhach Printing House, specializing in the manufacture of diplomas and certificates for universities and schools, etc. Since 2006, the "BEKO" factory of the Turkish company operates in Kirzhach, which produces household appliances (refrigerators and washing machines). In 2006 and 2008, two production lines of the "Wienerberger Kirpich" plant were commissioned in the village of Kiprevo in the Kirzhach region, producing quality ceramic bricks. In October 20014 the "Duke Home Systems" plant for the production of flexible bituminous shingles was opened in Kirzhach. In the village of Pershino, near Kirzhach, in the branch of SPA "Nauka" there are products of aerospace designation (air conditioning systems, automatic pressure regulation, life support of aircrafts). In the summer of 2013 the aeronautical base "Kirzhach", restored after ten years of  decline, was presented. Now it is the only Russian dirigibledrome in which the Aeronautic Center "Augur" (Moscow) tests its largest balloons.

Famous people

The names of many famous people in Russia are connected with Kirzhach. Graduates of the Kirzhach Teacher's Seminary were the largest Soviet linguist V.I. Chernyshev (1866-1949) and the founder of Soviet oil geology, Academician I.M. Gubkin (1871-1939). As a seminary's teacher worked for seven years A.M. Lazarev-Gruzinsky (1861-1927), Russian writer, novelist, who had been friends with  A.P. Chekhov for many years. In the village of Funikova Gora, near Kirzhach, S.M. Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944), a pioneer of color photography was born. He created the "Collection of Sights of the Russian Empire by S.M. Prokudin-Gorsky".  It is one of the first collections of color photographs in the world, which presents a variety of geographical conditions, ethnographic features, architectural monuments, cities, economy, transport – and became a kind of visual encyclopedia of the Russian Empire in the last years of its existence. A special exposition in the Kirzhach Museum of local lore is devoted to S.M. Prokudin-Gorsky.


There is a large number of attractions and interesting places for tourists in Kirzhach: the Annunciation Monastery (16th-17th centuries); historical civil buildings of the 19th century, including a mansion of merchants Vinokurovs, which currently houses the Kirzhach regional historical and art museum; in the northern part of the city on the Kirzhach River there is the "Nitty hill ", a historical site dedicated to militiamen in 1812 and 1941; 18 km from Kirzhach (near the village of Novoselovo) – the site of the catastrophe of Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Seregin, where the memorial is now erected; the estate of the Dumnovs factory owners in the village of Zarechye, where the museum complex is located, dedicated to the history of manual silk weaving, as well as an exhibition of author's ethnographic dolls of Galina Maslennikova. In the summer of 2016 another sight appeared in Kirzhach: the Typographic Bridge, the longest wooden pedestrian bridge in Russia (555 m), built for the 85th anniversary of the Kirzhach Printing house. It connected the new "Alexander Garden" with the children's town and concert ground, on the "printing" side of the bridge, with the city center.

For those who love various kinds of active tourism, the country club Polan (Ivashevo village) offers a covered horse riding arena for dressage and riding lessons. Aviation sports and technical club "Strizh" at the airport "Slobodka" near Kirzhach organizes parachute jumps.

Author: V. Korolkova