Wiki-expedition to Gdov through Leningrad Oblast

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Sunday, August 8, 2021

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In July 2021, after a long break, North-West Russia Wiki-Historians organised another wiki-expedition using automobile and Gdov became the target. Gdov is the ancient Russian town that was very important military and economical center of lake Peipus nearby in the past. Nowadays the town is in deep decline: most of historical buildings, including XIV century fortress, were destroyed during World War II. Also the railroad from Narva to Pskov and Polotsk, that was going through Gdov, was demolished in 1944 by retreating Wehrmacht and restored only as a short piece from Slantsy to Gdov to supply Smuravyovo air base. Unluckily air base was dismissed in 2009, so suburban train from Saint Petersburg became the only remaining user of the railroad. In 2012 train route was shortened to Slantsy and railroad was abandoned. That hit the town rather hard economically and culturally, so it loses its population gradually.



Pskov Oblast was under interest of North-West Russia Wiki-Historians user group from the very beginning, but they couldn't find any like-minded participants from that region yet. Non-existance of any offline activity in the region was noted by the user group founder Nikolay Bulykin during Russian Wiki-conference 2020. As a result UG participants from Saint Petersburg decided to make a tour to Pskov Oblast by themselves, despite the rather long distance (near 225 kilometers one-way). This expedition consisted of five people including UG founders Nikolay Bulykin and Yekaterina Borisova, Wikimedia Foundation activist Reda Kerbouche and a Wikimedians of Erzya language representative. They also continued the tradition of drone photographing, because such photos are always very informative and have high encyclopedic value.


Leningrad Oblast and Gdovsky District

Way to Gdov from Saint Petersburg runs mostly along the «Narva» highway, that has plenty of cultural heritage monuments in its nearby. There are dozens of historical manors, churches, post stations and memorials of Great Patriotic war there. With the reason that it's quite impossible to watch all of them even in several days, the expeditioners decided to make stops only at those objects, that are placed directly on the way to Gdov.



Since XVI century there was a system of yams — old-fashioned post stations where travelers could rest or change horses to resume traveling without big delays along the Saint Petersburg — Narva road. At the beginning of XIX century, during the Nicholas I rule, some post stations buildings was constructed by project of famous architect Luigi Rusca. Nowadays, all the remaining stations are cultural heritage monuments of federal level in Russia.



One of the valuables of these expeditions is opportunity to study interesting objects «as it is» and even to find new ones, that are not marked on maps. Afterwards, photographs of those objects are uploaded to use not only in Wikimedia projects (such as Wikipedia and Wikivoyage) but also in non-Wikimedia resources such as Wikimapia.


Gdov

After reaching Gdov wikimedians left their car and made the footwalk around the whole town. It's easy to do that because Gdov is near 2 kilometers wide from north to south. Also Nikolay used drone again to take aerial shots. Fortunately the weather was fine, not as it was during previous trip to Lampovo. The clear sunny day allowed to rise drone to 200 meters high and take good pictures to illustrate many articles. Ground photographing also was the case, so as a result most of notable places of Gdov, official of not, were pictured.



Leading their another tradition wikimedians put effort to photographing towns fauna that is very diverse in Gdov, so now there are pictures of plenty different domestic and wild animals photographs on Commons.


Lake Peipus

After watching everything in Gdov and being tired of summer heat, the expeditioners decided to leave dusty town and to visit the lake Peipus shore. Some of wikimedians photographed the lake and local birds while some of them tried to swim despite of rather high waves and rocky lake bottom.


Smuravyovo

Last viewpoint of the expedition was former military base Smuravyovo-2, that was partially abandoned after the air regiment was dismissed. The most interesting thing there is the MiG-21R aircraft placed as a monument in front of destroyed House of Culture.



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