On the Volga, 150km northwest of Moscow, the charming town of Tver dates back to the 12th century. After a fire levelled most of the town in 1763, the architect Pyotr Nikitin replanned Tver’s centre on a three-ray system and built his patron, Catherine the Great, a ‘road palace’ to rest in on journeys between the then-Russian capital of St Petersburg and Moscow.
Picturesque town houses and churches from the 18th and 19th centuries still line the main streets and riverbank, but the Soviet period was unkind to Tver. Not only was the town renamed Kalinin (after local Mikhail Kalinin, Stalin’s puppet president during WWII), the authorities tore down the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of our Saviour in 1935 (one had stood on the same spot since the late 13th century) and converted the mosque into a cafe. The latter has since been returned to the Muslim community.
There are English signboards around the city centre explaining the history of various key locations. It’s a good place to break a journey between Moscow and St Petersburg, as well as an access point for historic Torzhok and Lake Seliger.