The town of Melenki is the administrative center of the Melenki district of the Vladimir region with a population of 14,190 people (2016). It is one of the most remote towns from the regional center, located 150 km southeast of Vladimir, in the eastern part of the Meshchera lowland, on the river Unzha.


In its history, the town changed its name three times. Since the end of the 17th century, on the site of the present town was the palace village of Rogozhino,  located on the "veretiy" (Russian) –  a dry, elevated ridge between two neighboring rivers Unzhoy and Melenka. Therefore later it became known as Veretevo. By the beginning of the 18th century, wooden churches of the Intercession of the Virgin and Elijah the Prophet were built in the center of the village.  There were up to thirty houses and a water mill ("melnitsa" – Russian) in Veretevo. Gradually the village began to be called Melenki.

Today they argue about why this name was given to the village. The simplest explanation is the presence of a large number of mills, which, however, is not confirmed by the sources. Rather, on the contrary, the received name – Melenki –  entailed the construction of several windmills in the district. Another version connects the name of the town with the river Melenka – very shallow ("melenkaya" – Russian). There is also such an explanation: the surrounding fields have long been sown with flax, which here yielded good harvests, and the peasants, respectively, were engaged in the initial processing of flax – crushed flax. Here from these words - "crushing flax" ("myat lenky"– Russian), the name of the village – Melenki could have occurred. In any case, it reflects a long-spread occupation on this territory, which later developed into linen production.

In 1778 the village of Melenki received an urban status, together with other county towns of the Vladimir province. In 1881 the new town acquired its coat of arms. Under the Vladimir lion, a windmill was depicted on it nevertheless, with which, apparently, the heraldists  associated the name of the town.

Melenki was a small and rather poor town. But the urban status still contributed to the development of industry and the gradual growth of the population. In the 1860s, the whole association of flax, weaving, carding and whitewash-weaving factories was created in the town, which belonged to the manufacturers E. Brandt, E. Lindes and the merchants Volkov.  Brothers Soldatkin founded iron foundry, and later – copper foundry. At the end of 19th century, Melenki became the center of the county for the processing and marketing of flax.


Today  historically established industries develop in the economy of Melenki and a linen combine, a garment factory, and a foundry-mechanical plant operate. In addition, the location of the city in the forest Meshchera region determined the development of wood processing.

Crafts associated with the presence of a clay deposit have long developed on the Melenki land. In the village of Korovino near Melenki there is a well-known center of art pottery.


As for the sights and architectural monuments of a cult nature, in the Soviet years almost all churches in the city were closed and destroyed. Since the 19th century, only the bell tower of the Church of All Saints survived, which for a long time served as a fire tower.

For nearly twenty years there is a well-known historical and patriotic club "Rusichy" In Melenki, which is engaged in the reconstruction of ancient Russian martial arts and related crafts, for which it received many Russian and even international awards.

Famous people

Many famous people in Russia are connected with Melenki. It is the birthplace of  P.I. Lebedev-Polyansky (1882-1948), a major Russian revolutionary, a Soviet literary critic, an academician, whose monument was erected in Vladimir in front of the building of the philological faculty of the Vladimir Pedagogical Institute near the Golden Gate. Also N.P. Kamanin (1908-1982) was born in Melenki – Soviet pilot, the legendary leader of the expedition to rescue the polar explorers-Chelyuskin, who received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union in No. 2, a major military leader on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, Colonel-General of Aviation, the organizer of the training of the first Soviet cosmonauts. Here, in Melenki, O.V. Rozanova (1886-1918) was born, one of the largest artists of the Russian avant-garde with a unique coloristic talent, a bright but short destiny.

Author: V. Korolkova