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A Glimpse of Ivan the Terrible’s Fortress, the Island Town of Sviyazhsk in Russia

The island town of Sviyazhsk is a monument of Russian history and culture, but what prompted the creation of this tiny island town?


The 1500s was a trying time for the Russians. Ruled then by Ivan the Terrible, he led several campaigns against Kazan. So what was Kazan’s beef with Russia? Well, the Khanates (whose capital is Kazan) has been at war with Muscovites (Ivan’s army) for hundreds of years. Their main problem is that both of them want to own Kazan, which has a strategic location on the Volga River. But since the Khanates inhabited Kazan, they pretty much blocked Ivan’s forces from passing through there out onto the Caspian Sea.

Ivan led many campaigns against Kazan, but they couldn’t seize the city. Until one day Ivan’s troops found a little wooded island around 30 kilometers from Kazan. He came up with the idea to create a base near Kazan to make it easier to launch attacks against the city.

Sviyazhsk was initially uninhabited until Ivan the Terrible stumbled upon it in 1550.

It was used as a base fortress for Ivan's campaign against the Khanates.

However, the structures in Sviyazhsk were built further upstream and was reconstructed in Sviyazhsk by floating the logs downstream.


Strategically, building the base right where the enemy could see would be stupid, so Ivan and his team of engineers came up with a brilliant idea. They built a massive fortress in Uglich, about 70 kilometers upstream. When the fortress was built, they disassembled it like a Lego house and sent each log down stream towards the little island where it could be assembled. They then created a town as big as the Moscow Kremlin, complete with walls, towers, gates, and even churches within a month.

The little fortress town, known as Sviyazhsk, was such a hit that people went there to ask for citizenship. The bigger population and the strategic placement of the fortress allowed Ivan to finally conquer Kazan. The town continued to grow as a center of Russian culture and orthodoxy among the nearby towns.

Sviyazhsk was quite a happy little town, and people even went there to gain citizenship.

However, in the 20th century, the Bolsheviks attacked Sviyazhsk, destroying many of its buildings. The remaining buildings were then transformed into a labor camp for prisoners, and eventually a Gulag prison. And then in 1957, half the town was flooded after the construction of the Kuibyshev Water Reservoir. From a lofty population of 2000 people, it had been reduced to only 250.

It was flooded in 1957, thus reducing the population by 90 percent.


In 1960, it was declared as a monument of Russian history and culture, and was added to the tentative list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. The city of Sviyazhsk is currently being restored one building at a time, and has also become a tourist destination.

Sviyazhsk is now a tourist destination, an important piece of Russian history.


This Magnificent White Beach in Tuscany Hides A Very Dark Secret

Beach-goers become victims to tumors and high mortality rates because of this dark secret.

Rosignano Solvay is a tourist haven. This southern Tuscany area boasts of brilliant white sand beaches that attract thousands of visitors every year. Little do they know, the glorious Caribbean-like white sands they frolic on actually hides a dark secret.

This picturesque Italian town’s main tourist attraction is its seemingly beautiful coastline of sparkling sand locals call Spiagge Bianche.

However, the stunning stretch of beach isn’t a wonder of nature at all.

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The Ancient Roman City of Timgad Reveals Remarkable Modern Grid Design

This city ruins is one of the best surviving examples of the grid plan used by the ancient Roman city planners.

In 1765, when Scottish explorer James Bruce discovered an ancient city partly buried in the sands of the Algerian desert. He did not realize that he was actually standing above the ruins of the largest Roman Empire settlement ever built in North Africa — the ancient city of Thamugadi, now called Timgad.

The ruins of Timgad offer us a glimpse of ancient Roman urban planning at its height with its precise design and modern grid plan. Located on the slopes of Aures Massif in what is now known as Algeria, it was built nearly 2,000 years ago by the Roman Emperor Trajan.

The city was originally designed as a perfect square, 355 meters long on each side. The angled design was highlighted by the decumanus maximus (east-west oriented street) and the cardo (north-south-oriented street) lined by a Corinthian colonnade.

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Live Like a Royal Everyday, These Castles are For Sale

Whoever said you can’t be royalty was dead wrong. Just buy any of these castles and be king everyday.

Unless you happen to be one of the chosen few to be dating royalty, chances are, you happen to be just like everyone else – a commoner. But just because you’re not married to the next heir to the throne doesn’t mean that you no longer have the chance to live like one. Of course you still can!

It’s actually easier and hassle-free than getting hitched. The shortcut? Purchase any of the castles below and viola! You can now experience the same luxury living kings, queens, princes and princesses do.

1. Dracula’s Castle, Transylvania

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