KALUGA, December 15 (RIA Novosti). "The Ugra national park, one of the youngest national parks in Russia, runs across the entire Kaluga Region and tributaries of the Oka, such as the Ugra, the Zhizdra and the Vyssa," said the park's director Valery Novikov. "It is a biosphere reserve designed to protect unique nature landscapes. Remarkable historical and cultural heritage monuments are also located here," the official said.
Many significant historical events took place in this area. The most remarkable of them are the so-called great standing on the Ugra River in 1480, which signalled the beginning of the decline of the Tatar-Mongolian yoke, bloody battles during the Patriotic War of 1812 and World War II. The Optina Monastery, one of the most famous orthodox centers, is located there. These sites attract numerous visitors and pilgrims to the Ugra national park.
The park's administration puts an emphasis on active river and excursion tourism, which makes it possible to establish strict control of nature protection measures and encourages the development of programs to preserve and restore natural, historical and cultural sites. The bend of the Ugra River, associated with a number of historical events, is considered an attractive tourist venue. Historians claim that Russian and khans' troops were deployed there. The Opakovo settlement, where Grand Prince Ivan had his headquarters, is another outstanding archaeological monument. The park also includes the Oka River belt, a system of protective fortifications and planted dense broadleaf forests, established on the Russian southern borders in the middle ages.
The Ugra national park has recently begun implementing a rather unusual agricultural tourism program, which offers an insight into Russian rural life and an opportunity to learn the basics of crop growing and handling.
"Several guest houses with additional farm buildings, cattle barns, and vegetable and fruit gardens are open for tourists," said the park's director Valery Novikov. "There are plans to build a few more similar guest houses in different parts of the park soon."