Join 3,421 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


sunken cities
April 19, 2006 1:46 PM   Subscribe

When the Mongols invaded Russia in the 13th century, legend has it that when they reached the northern city of Kitezh, the citizens, rather than defending themselves, "engaged in fervent praying, asking god for their redemption. On seeing this, the Mongols rushed to the attack, but then stopped. Suddenly, they saw countless fountains of water bursting from under the ground all around them. The attackers fell back and watched the town submerge into the lake." Ever since, Kitezh has provided Russians "a platform for imagining what their culture might have been like, had it not been stamped by authoritarian rule." And it gave Rimsky-Korsakov the plot of his opera the Tale of the Invisible City of Kitezh. [More inside.]
posted by languagehat (22 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interestingly, not far to the west of the supposed site of Kitezh, at the turn of the Volga in the region of Yaroslavl, is an actual sunken city, Mologa, inundated by the creation of the Rybinsk Reservoir in the early 1940s; there's a whole site devoted to memorializing the city. And legends of sunken cities aren't just a Russian thing—there's a whole series of Celtic ones. And there may be more to come...
posted by languagehat at 1:47 PM on April 19, 2006


I wonder if theres a similar, communist city that magically esacped being over-run by Vulture Capitalists.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on April 19, 2006


Don't forget the unwelcoming neighbors of Baucis and Philemon in compiling sunken settlement stories!
posted by freebird at 2:10 PM on April 19, 2006


This would be a good Miyazaki movie.
posted by stavrogin at 2:14 PM on April 19, 2006


This is an awesome post -- thank you! It reminded me of the discovery of this sunken city off the coast of India in 2002. I think this city was legendary until they actual found it using sonar.

It also reminded me of "Mirage Village" from Final Fantasy V. =)
posted by ducksauce at 2:41 PM on April 19, 2006


More Kitezh

+

watch Andrei Tarkovsky - Andrei Rublev
posted by Substrata at 2:48 PM on April 19, 2006


stavrogin: I see it! The water river spirit returns and defeats the oily, blob-like figures.
posted by uni verse at 2:49 PM on April 19, 2006


So the town prayed for salvation, and in reverse Faustian fashion, got "saved" from the Mongols by God drowning the entire town first? Bravo! And, of course, we now have the authority of SCIENCE to prove God punishes those who petition Him in prayer:
Patients who received prayers were marginally more likely to develop complications (52.5 to 50.9 percent) and substantially more likely to develop major complications (18.0 to 13.4 percent) than patients who received none. You can't blame the major-complication gap on psychology, since both groups were told that they might or might not be prayed for. . . Warning: The surgeon general may determine that prayer is hazardous to your health. That's what can happen when faith sets out to prove its power through science.
posted by dgaicun at 2:57 PM on April 19, 2006


dgaicun : "So the town prayed for salvation, and in reverse Faustian fashion, got 'saved' from the Mongols by God drowning the entire town first?"

To be fair, from what I remember of the behaviour of the Mongols, no, God drowning the city would not be anywhere close to the best possible option, but it was probably an improvement on letting the Mongols take the city.
posted by Bugbread at 3:13 PM on April 19, 2006


One thing you hear is that the 'true' orthodox believers (Those that cross themselves with correct amount of fingers) can still hear the church bells of Kitzeh ringing in the deep.
posted by Vaska at 3:15 PM on April 19, 2006


I've always thought that Rimsky-Korsakov sounded more like a company that sells arms , than a guy who wrote opera's.
posted by grex at 3:42 PM on April 19, 2006


this post is why I read metafilter. awesome.
posted by shmegegge at 4:43 PM on April 19, 2006


Great post! Thanks.
posted by blahblahblah at 6:41 PM on April 19, 2006


And legends of sunken cities aren't just a Russian thing—there's a whole series of Celtic ones.

Cities? Bah. How about Atlantis?
posted by homunculus at 7:22 PM on April 19, 2006


Atlantis? How about New Orleans?
posted by horsewithnoname at 7:40 PM on April 19, 2006


ba-ZING!
posted by shmegegge at 7:52 PM on April 19, 2006


That is totally strange. Last night I was reading Natasha's Dance by Orlando Figes, and came across that story for the first time in my life. And here it is today in the blue. Synchronicity.
posted by wilful at 10:31 PM on April 19, 2006


thanks for the post!|
posted by matteo at 2:08 AM on April 20, 2006


The Celtic link missed out Lyonesse. And thank you for the post-- I'd never heard of Kitezh before.
posted by posadnitsa at 5:39 AM on April 20, 2006


Excellent, I'd never heard of the city, but I also immediately thought of Andrie Rublev, which I was lucky enough to see on film a year or so ago.

I went to a college where three of the housing areas-Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott-are named after towns drowned by the Quabbin Reservoir.
posted by OmieWise at 5:58 AM on April 20, 2006


Heh—as a newly fledged citizen of Massachusetts, I thought about including the Quabbin Reservoir, but decided the post was too overcrowded already.

But I'm curious about the Andrei Rublev connection; I've seen the movie, and I don't remember any reference to Kitezh (although of course there are invading Tatars). What am I forgetting?

(And yes, it would be a good Miyazaki movie.)
posted by languagehat at 8:17 AM on April 20, 2006


Nothing specific, just Mother Russia and the hordes.
posted by OmieWise at 8:52 AM on April 20, 2006


« Older Germano Facetti...  |  The Purple Party... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments