There are lots of people who have heard the story of the lost continent of Atlantis. The famous Greek philosopher Plato first described an island continent called Atlantis.
According to Plato’s description, Atlantis had its own civilization and culture, but the island continent sank under the sea after ‘losing the favor of the gods.
Although most researchers and analysts consider ‘Atlantis’ to be a mere piece of fiction, this ‘lost continent’ has captured the imagination of people throughout the ages.
Some have even tried to locate Atlantis. They traced Atlantis from the region around Egypt to the North and South Poles. But Atlantis has always proved a mirage to the curious.
But in contrast to this fictional Atlantis, there is a real Atlantis, whose story is very similar to the fictional Atlantis. This Atlantis, too, was once prosperous but was later buried.
Of course, the gods had no hand in this Atlantean cremation, the world’s most destructive creature, man, was responsible for it!
The location of this Russian ‘Atlantis’ is in Yaroslavl Province, northwest of Moscow, the capital city of the present Russian Federation. This Russian Atlantis was called ‘Mologa’.
Mologa was an ancient city in Russia and was located at the confluence of the Volga and Mologa rivers. The city has existed since the beginning of the 12th century, as it is mentioned in the Russian chronicles of 1149.
At that time Russia was divided into relatively small states, and in the early thirteenth century, the city of Mologa was part of the Rostov state.
Later, the Yaroslavl state occupied the city of Mologa. In 1321, Mologa itself became an independent Russian state, but within a few days, the most powerful Russian state, Muscovy, captured Mologa.
From the late 14th century to the early 16th century, Mologa was one of the most important commercial centers of Russia.
At that time, one of the largest trade fairs in Russia was held in Malaga and merchants from various countries of Europe and Asia participated in this fair.
By the end of the fifteenth century, the city of Málaga had become one of the most important centers of trade between Russia and the Asian states. A fort was also built for the defense of Mologar.
During the socio-political upheaval in Russia at the beginning of the 16th century, Mologa became a commercial ‘sloboda’ or duty-free trading centre.
In 1777, the Russian empress Catherine II (‘Catherine the Great’) transformed Málaga administratively into a ‘district headquarters’.
During this time, the Volga trade route and the growth of the then capital of Russia, St. Petersburg, led to great economic development of the city of Mologa.
Mologa became an important port on the Volga River. Hundreds of ships used to pass through Mologa every year and these ships collected goods and other facilities from Mologa.
The city of Málaga was famous for its commercial activities as well as its medieval and classical architecture.
The 15th-century St. Athanasius Convent was one of the buildings in the town, and by the end of the 19th century the convent had 4 churches.
Epiphany Cathedral, built in 1882 in the Russian Byzantine style, is also one of the attractions of the city. The stone-built fire station in the town and its adjacent watchtower were also a source of pride for the townspeople.
Its architect was Andrei Dostoevsky, brother of the world-famous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky.
In 1881, Mother Superior Taisia, abbot of a monastery near Mologa, dreamed that she was walking through a paddy field, which was gradually being submerged in water.
He kept walking in the water and gradually the water rose up to his neck.
At that time someone gives him an object from the water, on which he tries to rise above the water. At this time the water started to recede again and the white stone walls of the monastery started rising from the water!
Mother Taisia recorded this strange dream in her diary, but little did she know that within the next half century, their beloved city would be truly buried!
The Russian Revolution of 1917 led to the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, taking power in Russia, and in 1922 founded the Soviet Union on the ruins of the Russian Empire.
After Lenin’s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin became the ruler of the Soviet Union. Under Stalin’s leadership, industrialization began on a massive scale in the industrially backward Soviet Union.
In the 1930s, the Soviet Union became one of the world’s leading industrial nations. And the city of Mologa became a victim of this industrialization.
In 1935, a decision was taken to build the large-scale Rybinsk hydroelectric station and Rybinsk reservoir in Yaroslavl province. The city of Rybinsk is located near Mologar.
At the initial stage of the project, however, it was considered that there was no need to sink the city of Mologa, and after the construction of the Rybinsk Reservoir, Mologa would become an island isolated from the mainland.
But during the construction of the Rybinsk Dam, the decision was made to raise the height of the reservoir to 102 meters instead of 98 meters above sea level in order to increase the production capacity of the hydroelectric power station.
This resulted in the size of the reservoir being much larger than originally planned and the need to submerge the city of Móloga. Incidentally, Rybinsk Reservoir was the world’s largest man-made reservoir at that time.
The Soviet authorities therefore ordered the evacuation of about 130,000 people from the city of Mologa and its surrounding villages.
Those among them whose houses were made of wood were dismantled and transported by ship. And those who had stone houses were compensated by the Soviet government.
These ‘development refugees’ from Mologar were resettled elsewhere in Yaroslavl province, in neighboring provinces and in Moscow and Leningrad.
After the city was evacuated by 1941, all major buildings, factories, churches and other buildings in Mologa were blown up using explosives. The city was then submerged.
According to a secret report by the Soviet intelligence agency ‘NKVD’, some of the residents of Mologar refused to obey orders to leave the city.
The town’s 294 residents decided to stay in their homes and shackled themselves to various heavy objects. Nothing is clearly known about what happened to them.
However, it is assumed that along with Mologa, these unfortunate inhabitants of Mologa were also buried. A monument was erected in 2003 in memory of these inhabitants of Mologar.
Although the city of Mologa is completely submerged, the height of the Rybinsk Reservoir sometimes drops and ruins of the city of Mologa can be seen. The ruins of Mologar were first discovered in 1972.
In 1992, the height of the Rybinsk reservoir dropped by one and a half meters, and as a result, historians were able to send an expedition team to Mologa.
A ‘Maloga Museum’ has been constructed and a documentary made from the material collected by this expedition team from Maloga.
In 2014, Mologa was temporarily sighted again as the height of the reservoir dropped again. Today, the city of Málaga is almost completely destroyed.
What the Soviets didn’t destroy, being underwater for so long destroyed. Nevertheless, former residents of Mologa or their descendants still flock from all over Russia every year to visit the city.
Many of them believe that, like the first part of Mother Taisia’s dream, the last part will come true, that is, the city of Mologa will one day become habitable again!
Every year on 14th April in Yaroslavl Province ‘Mologa Day’ is celebrated to commemorate the burial of Mologa. The Salilsamadhi of Mologar is, no doubt, an example of the human catastrophe caused by Stalinist industrialization.
But according to many, the Mologar tragedy saved Russia from an even greater tragedy. The Rybinsk Reservoir, created by submerging Mologa, supplied power to Moscow during critical times during World War II.
Known as the ‘Rybinsk Sea’, this large body of water has now become a center for fisheries, recreation and tourism.
The Rybinsk ‘Sea’ is an attractive destination, especially for those in the immediate vicinity who cannot afford to travel to the Black Sea coast of southern Russia. Moreover, the ‘Russian Atlantis’ Málaga also attracts many curious tourists like a magnet.