Hello! My name is Luba. I can show you my Yekaterinburg and Middle Urals in Russia!


Lake Shartash – a piece of nature in Yekaterinburg

Summer is short, so don’t miss a chance to do a short eco-tour to Lake Shartash. You can walk in the forest, climb ancient rocks, ride a bicycle, go swimming and sunbathing on the beach, what’s more it’s all within Yekaterinburg so you don’t need a car to get there!

Shartash in the east of Yekaterinburg is one of the oldest lakes in the Urals - 1 million years old. It has a shape of a bean; its area is 7 Shartash means a yellow stone therefore don’t be afraid of the yellowish waters – it’s not dangerous for swimming. First gold in the Urals was discovered in the lake area in 1745. The bottom of the lake has granite deposits and sapropel.

Getting there: from Lenin Prospect you can go by trams 8,13,15,23,32, “A” or any mini bus that has a weird abbreviation ‘40 let VLKSM’ (in English it means ‘40 years of All-Union Leninist Young Communist League’ – it’s actually the name of a tram stop) You need to get off at Kamennie Palatki on Viysotskogo Street. Cross the street, you will see a big sign Shartashsky Les (forest of Shartash) and stone steps leading up the rock. Climb the steps and you get to Kamennie Palatki:

Kamennie Palatki - granite monuments of the Stone Age can be found only in Middle Urals

Kamennie Palatki (stone tents) is something of the same significance in Russia as Stonehenge in England. The natural monument of the Iron Age is a wall of granite formed by the volcano eruption. Granite layers look like piles of huge pancakes. Archeologists found out that ancient people used the place as an altar.

Nowadays Yekaterinburgers bring food and drinks to Kamennie Palatki too, but instead of sacrifice they make picnics.

In 1905 the place was used by Sverdlov and other Bolsheviks for secret meetings.

Get down back to the street and walk about 400 m. eastward, the forest is on your left. Turn left in front of the petrol station. Cross a railway crossing. To rent a bicycle walk straight on to the forest, the lake is on your right. Continue walking till you see a sign on your right Sportivnaya Baza. Alternatively, from the railway crossing turn right and walk to Sundali Beach

Sundali Beach

Bicycle rentals are open daily from 10a.m. to 8p.m. 1 hour is 100-200roubles. Bring a passport or driver’s license with you to rent a bicycle. Don’t worry about the passport - it’s a common practice in Russia when a rental company keeps your document while you keep a bicycle.

The cycling trail around the lake is 12.5 km. Near the village of Shartash you have to cycle about 2 km on the highway as there is no trail by the lake which is inconvenient especially with children. My favourite route is along the lake anti-clockwise to Izoplit village and back. It takes one hour and apart from peaceful nature you will see an interesting site in Izoplit:  shabby wooden huts standing next to mansions of rich Yekaterinburgers:

Houses in Izoplit on Rybakov Street

And on the opposite side of the same street...

For sale

Shartash is a closed lake. It has about 50 springs and no outflows. The lake is getting shallow; it’s now 2-3m. deep and scientists predict it may turn into a swamp in 50-70 years. I hope you will find some time to visit this beautiful ancient lake before it disappears.

Whenever I have a day off in summer I go to Shartash for a ride. You are more than welcome to join me 😉


Mount Narodnaya, up to the highest peak of the Urals

Thanks to my Facebook friend Maciej Besta from Poland, we are able to do virtual tours to the highest peak of the Urals. Even though the peak is not too high - 1,894 metres (6,214 ft), I doubt, I will ever dare to get there because…well, take a look…

Today is probably below -40C. with the wind chill factor

The expedition was launched in winter 2011 by 4 Polish explorers.  It was the first Polish winter ascent of Mount Narodnaya and probably the first winter traverse of all the way from Inta railway station (a town in the Komi Republic) to Narodnaya (on foot)

Mount Narodnaya is located in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug and is the highest point in European Russia outside the Caucasus.

Maciej Besta: “The exact distance from Inta (a town in the Komi Republic) to Narodnaya along the truck route is 150 km. When we were going to the mountains we covered part of the distance on a truck. But, when we were coming back, we were going only on foot. I did the distance in 6 days (the last day was 50 km of non-stop march), the rest of the group did it in 7 days. However, it is essential to know that the conditions on a route were pretty OK - the snow on route was hard thanks to good weather and trucks.”

Let's the virtual tour to Narodnaya (photos and interesting comments by Maciej Besta):


Cave diving in the Urals

I’ve been living in the Urals for 31 years but the region keeps on surprising me. The recent revelation was diving in the Urals. As you might guess, Russia is not a diving country. There is Lake Baikal, of course, and the Black Sea, but do you know any other diving places? It turned out the Ural Mountains are a mecca for divers and they come here from all over the world. It is an ideal place for ice diving, free diving and cave diving – a dream for every pro diver. My new friends from DiveXpert Club based in Yekaterinburg opened a whole new world to me and I’d like to thank them once again for the information and amazing photos of the Orda Cave – an absolute gem of the Urals.  

If you are interested in diving and are looking for something unique – the Orda Cave is the place to explore. It’s near the village of Orda in the Perm Region, on the left bank of Kungur river. Orda is . It was formed about 500.000 years ago. The water is incredibly clear and it is cold (the water temperature is +4). Divers call the cave ‘a white bride’ as the walls of the passages are white due to gypsum rocks formed about 200 million years ago. There was a sea at that time. Currently the length of the explored underwater passages is 4850 meters. New small passages and grottoes are discovered in the cave every month.

Russian divers started to explore the cave in 1990ies. Those days they were not very well equipped and the exploration was a dangerous challenge. Now the Ural divers are members of a GUE (Global Underwater Explorers) team. Cave courses are provided all year long and the village of Orda has a necessary infrastructure for tourists. Andrey Dmitirev from Yekaterinburg is now one of 75 Trimix instructors in the world and the only one in the Urals has been exploring the Orda Cave for many years. Last year the underwater photographer Victor Lyagushkin together with Andrey and other world leading cave divers launched a project: Orda Cave, Awareness. It is a book about the cave with more than 100 unique underwater photographs.

Some of the photos you can see here courtesy of DiveXpert Club, Andrey Dmitriev, Victor Lyagushkin and Dmitri Osipov.


Open air museum in Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha

There is a village in the Urals that can be called an open-air museum-village. Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha (yep, it's a tricky tongue twister)  is 180 km from Yekaterinburg on the way to Siberia. The settlement is 330 years old. There along the Siberian road you can see the examples of wooden architecture of the previous centuries. It’s always a good idea to park your car and to walk around. You can also buy a ticket to get inside the wooden chapels and houses to see more of the local naïve art, so characteristic for the Urals.

I got to Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha in August with a group of my fellow architects and designers. They chose the trip to celebrate Builder’s Day (it has been celebrated in Russia since the Soviet times by everyone involved in construction works)

The highlight of the village is Saviour Transfiguration Church. The locals say it was built by an Italian architect and it does look very Italian. Historians are skeptical about it and believe the architect was Russian as the church is typical for Siberian Baroque style. The church was largely destroyed by the Bolsheviks. The building was used as a social club and a library the Soviet era. It is now a part of the museum and that’s where you buy the entrance ticket for something like 200 roubles (7$).

 The church-museum has an interesting collection of bells from post cabs. There is an interesting exhibition of interior and exterior design on the second floor of the building. Rich villagers would hire a designer to paint the walls of their houses. Bright and happy colors were very popular with the Ural dwellers.It is probably because the natural scenery was not colorful at all. These days the scenery is the same - gloomily grey-and-white for at least 6 months a year. Local designers did their best to please the clients. They painted exotic animals or things they had heard about but never seen. Take a look at how people imagined elephants or locomotives – those are priceless images.

Book a tour to Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha here:

Sinyachikha river

a house of 18th century

There is only one man behind the whole project - Ivan Samoylov. He was a local activist who loved his village and dedicated 40 years of his life to create the open-air museum. With a few fellow-carpenters he started to restore the Savior Church in 1967. It took them 11 years to complete the restoration but that was only the beginning. Samoylov then started to collect old neglected houses from the nearby villages. He brought them log by log to Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha and built them anew. It was easy to do as wooden houses in Russia used to be made without a single nail. So he only had to pile the logs in the correct order.

Chappels in the Urals had brightly painted iron roofs and golden crosses

Samoylov preserved 20 buildings including the unique wooden chapels of 18th century. As he worked in the Soviet era, he was many times confronted by the local communist leaders who didn’t like the idea of saving churches. Samoylov didn’t concede and kept on working for his Motherland. He was never paid a rouble for what he had done but was awarded a medal by Yeltsin in 1990s. Sadly, after Samoylov’s death there are no volunteers to continue his work though there are still many historical objects in the decaying villages all over the Urals.

Today houses haven't changed much

A local wedding

Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha is worth visiting during the first week of March when Maslenitza (a pancake carnival) is celebrated. The museum workers arrange a special program with pancake tasting. There is also a nice cafe in front of the church but sometimes it is closed in the afternoon for wedding parties

The museum is open daily 9a.m.-4p.m., Wed 9a.m-8p.m; telephone: (34346) 75-1-18, 75-2-37

Book a tour to Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha here:

Getting there

by car: take Yekaterinburg - Rezh highway until Alapayevsk then down Ul. Lenina follow the directions to Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha. The main road leads exactly to the Church.

public transport: there are buses and marshrutkas to Alapaevsk from Yekaterinburg Severny Avtovokzal (near the train station). Busses run daily 3-4 times a day and take 3 hours. Alternatively go by electrichka (local train) to Alapaevsk. It takes 4 hours. In Alapaevsk take bus 103 from the bus station or hitchhike (about 2 km)


Hot springs in cold Tyumen. From the Urals to Siberia

Living on the border of Europe and Asia, Yekaterinburgers tend to look westwards. Though sometimes it’s worth taking a look to the east to arrange a weekend in cold Siberia. Namely, in the mineral hot springs outside Tyumen.

Tyumen is the nearest Siberian city – 340 km from Yekaterinburg (about 4.5 hr by car if you do 120km/h) Take Sibirski Trakt (sometimes it’s also called Tyumenski Trakt) and simply drive straight on all the way. Tired of partying in the Urals my friends and I decided to take a trip to heat up our bones on January 3. Frankly speaking, the only thing that could lure me to Siberia in the middle of winter was the fact that their springs are hot, I mean really hot +45C all year long. We, however, took an old longer road to Siberia. It was bumpy but our first stop in Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha was definitely worth it.

Saviour Transfiguration Church in Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha was built in 1823 in Siberian baroque style

    Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha is a small village and an open-air museum of wooden architecture. Local carpenter Ivan Samoylov gathered abandoned chapels all over the Urals and restored them in his native village

Our next stop was in Irbit - the only town on our way where we could have a lunch before submerging in healing mineral waters of Tyumen. Irbit was a disappointment both culture- and food-wise. What was once the biggest fair ground in Imperial Russia trading with tea and furs, is now a row of grey shabby houses with no infrastructure. All eateries were closed because of winter holidays. After New Year celebrations local supermarkets looked like in the worst times of war starvation: empty counters with only frozen vegetables to offer. Meanwhile we were frozen too. Siberian frost was getting more and more apparent: if it was -10 in Yekaterinburg, closer to Siberia it was already -22. Interestingly, the shelves with vodka were all full of bottles. Probably, the citizens of Irbit drink something else, but we chose vodka as the only remedy to get warm, animated and to forget about hunger. No wonder, the only photo taken in Irbit is a bit of a blur:     

Although Irbit is not worth a visit, there is one thing to attract foreign tourists: famous bike Urla is still being manufactured at the Irbit motorcycle factory.

Honestly, we wanted to have a sober day but Irbit forced us to drink and apparently this is the only way to finally enter Siberia. In the old times Siberia wasn’t only an exile but also a symbol of freedom to runaway surfs and to the persecuted in Moscovia old-believers. There is an old Russian saying: Good bye Russia, I’ve crossed the Urals, I’ve run away! With the same feelings we crossed the marked border between Ural and Siberia and also between Sverdlovskaya Oblast and Tyumenskaya.      

Typically Ural faces: where Asia meets with Europe. Larisa of semi-Asian Bashkir origin (left) and me with Belarusian roots (right)

We did find a nice café near the border. Café Ogonyok provided tasty meal, welcome prices and interesting (Siberian?) ambience:

And finally hot springs!

Directions: before entering Tyumen at roundabout take exit to Roschino. In 3-5 km watch for a sign on the left “Verkhniy Bor” Hot springs are outdoors swimming-pools with mineral water springing from 1.233 m depth. Mineral water contains bromine and sodium chloride. Water temperature is +45. Hot springs are open daily until 4 a.m. Entry fee - 200R. There are indoor changing rooms, cafes and saunas. However, the place may be packed during public holidays. Then you can drive further down the road (20-25km) to get to the second larger pool near Pionerski Lager (Children Camp). That’s where we went to. There is no infrastructure though, so pull up to the pool as close as possible. You’ll have to change clothes in a car and what’s more to run good 30 meters to the water in your bathing suit! That was a challenge with outside temperature -25. What’s more, one of my friends left slippers home and had to run barefoot. Needless to say, he sobered up immediately!

Useful tips: - bring your towel, slippers and a woolen hat if the air temperature is -10 or lower

- stay in the water for 15-20 min. then take a break before bathing again  

- you will feel very relaxed after bathing so a driver should consider having some rest before driving back

Hotels to stay:

Istochnik Hotel (3.000R a night, includes entry fee to the hot springs) 

Sosnovaya Hotel (1.600R a night, 3.100 for a cottage for 3 persons)

Baza Zeya (860R for a  3 persons bedroom)

plus you can book any hotel in Tyumen


Ural rivers and remote villages

My good friend Vitaliy decided to buy a datcha in some remote Ural village. The idea was to find a decent house on the river far from civilization. Fortunately, there are plenty of old partly neglected villages in the Urals and most of them are on the rivers.  Rivers were the main transport arteries in 19th century, that's why Ural villages would spring up along the rivers with the windows of the houses facing the water roads.

The good news for Vitaly was that a shabby house could cost about 1 000 US dollars (of course with some refurbishing needed) What Vitaly didn't expect was the fact that roads in the the 21st century are not any better than centuries ago, i.e. there were simply no roads only forest paths. Upshot, Vitaliy didn't find a nice and cheap datcha but the photos he and his partner Sergey took in summer 2010 are priceless and I'm happy to share them with you!

p.s. Vitaliy finally bought a country house close to his native town of Nizhni Tagil. It's not a remote place but at least it has a cobblestone road built by the German prisoners after the War...


The Demidoff family – from the Urals to Italy

A portrait of Nikita Demidoff who started the famous dynasty. In fact, his name was Nikita Demidovich Altufyev but Peter the Great would call him Demidov or Demidoff in a European way.

The Demidoff family was the richest clan not only in the Urals but in the whole Russian Empire. The history of Middle Urals is mostly the history of the Demidoffs who owned dozens of factories mostly in nevyansk and Nizhni Tagil. Ural metals with Demidoff's trademark Old Sable can be found in St.Petersburg (Peterhof), in London (the Palace of Westminster) and even in new York. The Statue of Liberty was a gift of France, as you know. But first the French had to buy copper from Demidoff's factories.

Akinfy Demidoff was the most influential in the dynasty. With the discovery of gold in the Urals, Akinfy became the second wealthy person in Russia after the Tsar. The legend says that he also counterfeited ruble coins in the secret factory in the basement of his mysterious Leaning Tower in Nevyansk. The Leaning Tower is still a secret to scientists and historians. We don't know the name of the architect, why the tower has the inclination and what purpose it had. It was a laboratory, a prison, a watch tower and a clock tower at the same time. The English clock that still plays music every 15 min. cost Demidoff more than the tower itself. In addition the Leaning Tower had a lightning rod the first ever used in the world.

Akinfy Demodoff's grandson Nikolay had enjoyed his life in the Urals until once he went on holiday to Italy, fell in love with it and never went back to his residence in Nizhni Tagil. You can't really blame him for lack of patriotism. Compared to the Ural severe climate and plain food, of course Italy seemed to be a paradise to Nikolay. He lived in Florence in Villa San Donato also known as Villa Demidoff and bought a feudal title of Count of San Donato. Although Russian aristocrats refused to call Demidoff by his title, the name of San Donato is well known in the Urals. There is a small train station San Donato not far from Nizhni Tagil. The name sounds so exotic that many people believe San is short for Sanatorium, however there is no sanatorium in the neighborhood. Meanwhile the Demidoffs set even stronger bonds with the Europeans when Nikolay's son Anatole Demidoff married Princess Mathilde, a niece of Napoleon.

In the present time the Demidoffs live in France. They own neither palaces nor noble titles. The head of the family hardly speaks Russian. He is aware of his famous ancestors but prefers a modest life style. What's interesting, the last Demidoff has been to Russia only once in early 90s. He didn't go to the Urals, instead he chose to visit the Red Square in Moscow. In the interview for the Russian TV he said that he wasn't much impressed..

Unlike Demidoff, tourists from Russia and abroad like to visit Demidoff's places and the Leaning Tower in particular. Nevyansk is 90 km north to Yekaterinburg. You can get there by bus or by train. The Tower is opened every day except Mondays from 9a.m. to 6 p.m. Because of many tourist groups on weekends, it's wise to book an excursion beforehand by phone +7-34356-2-20-56 or e-mail: Note that excursions are in Russian only.

Book the tour to Nevyansk here:

Take a look at the photos of Nevyansk by Fredrik Forsberg  (for more photos visit my page Yekaterinburg for You on Facebook)


American Spy in the Urals

It looks like history is repeating itself. This year a few Russian spies were detected by CIA and exchanged for a couple of spies who had worked for the USA in Russian territories. The Russian failed spies, by the way, were heartily greeted by the authorities in their Motherland and the new Mata Hari - red-haired spy Anna Chapman is even starting a modelling career in Moscow.

This incident is not the first and I suspect not the last in the history of Russian-American espionage. The Ural region with numerous nuclear factories has always been largely involved. It's not that we are told about everything but one incident that happened in 1960 is well known and remembered by the senior citizens of Yekaterinburg (those days it was Sverdlovsk). On May 1 - Labour Day in the USSR there was an annual parade of the Soviet workers on the main city square. The Communist leaders received the workers' salutes from the granite tribune next to the monument of Lenin. It was a bright sunny day that's why the citizens spotted two white clouds that suddenly appeared in the clear sky.

S-75 missile in the Military History Museum in Yekaterinburg

That was CIA's U-2 aircraft on a mission piloted by Francis Gary Powers. Powers was able to take high-resolution photos of the military sites. U-2 had been invulnerable to Soviet anti-aircraft weapons for good four years causing the KGB's considerable dismay until in 1960 Russian S-75 missile hit the aircraft over Sverdlovsk. The American aircraft wasn't the only one hit by the missile that morning. The Russians also brought down their own MIG-19 jet that had been sent to intercept the U-2. The Soviet pilot Sergey Safronov crashed his plane in the woods and died. Colonel Powers was lucky. He parachuted to the field and was greeted by the local villagers. The villagers were happy to see the survived pilot in the first place but because the pilot didn't speak Russian (a big mistake for a spy) they sent him straight to the KGB.

Soviet intelligence couldn't be happier: the brought down U-2 turned out to be intact. For some reasons Francis Powers didn't activate the aircraft self-destruct mechanism and didn't have time to destroy the camera and films. Besides the KGB was able to extensively interrogate the American spy of a high rank who was actually expected to have taken a CIA suicide pin but he didn't. Powers was sentenced to three years of imprisonment in Moscow and seven years of hard labour in Gulag. Once again he was lucky - in 1961 Powers was exchanged for Soviet KGB colonel Rudolf Abel. 

A Soviet 1968 spy film Dead Season features a scene of that exchange on Glienicke Bridge in Berlin. Power's biography also became an American television movie in 1976: Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident   

The story is not finished yet. In 2010 the released CIA documents revealed that the US Government never believed in Power's account and thought the story had been cooked by the Russians. Garry Powers Jr, who visited Lubyanka quarters in Moscow on May 1, 2010, said that it had taken the US Government 50 years to set the record straight about his father and the record still has kinks in it.


Secret towns in the Urals

My dad was a military man in the Soviet era. He worked for the Russian rail in Sverdlovsk then got a promotion and we moved to Nizhni Tagil. Tanks made in the plant of Nizhni Tagil were and still are transported by rail. So my dad was making timetables for the cargo trains with military equipment. When my dad retired he couldn't by rule leave the country and travel abroad for 5 years, so you can assume there weren't only tanks involved..

If you take a train from Yekaterinburg to the north you will inevitably pass one of the secret towns or closed towns as they are not a secret anymore in the Ural region - Novouralsk. You won't miss it because the town lies behind the barbed wire fence that resembles prison walls. The citizens of Novouralsk have special passes to enter. To visit your relatives there you need a special invitation from them for certain dates. I know a girl from a closed town who studies in Yekaterinburg, she happened to lose her pass and her Russian passport once and couldn't get back home to her parents for 5 weeks until her documents were renewed by the authorities. Of course, you may ask why on earth people live behind the wall. The answer is simple - good salaries at the secret factories, a tax free area, zero unemployment rate, zero crime - sounds like a paradise except for low life expectancy.

In the USSR when Yekaterinburg was called Sverdlovsk the secret towns weren't on the maps. They didn't even have names only numbers: Sverdlovsk 45, 16, etc. I remember when I was little and the news about American enemies was still on TV, my dad taught me a lesson on geopolitics. He brought the world map, showed me where the USA was and pointed at the Ural Mountains. We were equally far away from both sides. My dad explained that if the Americans had sent their rockets to Russia from the east coast, the rockets would have dropped somewhere around Moscow, sent from the west coast they would have reached Siberia but had no power to fly up to the Urals. Thus we lived in the safest place in the world. I was pretty satisfied with this explanation and have never cared for the Cold War since that.

Ironically, some time ago I was telling an American tourist about the closed towns in the Urals. The tourist and now my friend Harlow Ingalls happened to be a veteran of three International Wars including the Cold War conflict. He told me that the US government has always known about our secret factories and the secret towns were not a secret to them. On the contrary, the Urals would have been the first and the main target if the Cold War had turned into hot and their rockets would have dropped in the right place, to be sure...


Rural life in Koptelovo village

Those who are planning to visit the Urals should also visit Singing Babushkas and other inhabitants of Koptelovo. It's a village-museum 135 km north-east to Yekaterinburg. Surprisingly enough the life of the remote village hasn't changed much since last centuries. Of course the villagers drive their Lada cars now and have satellite TV but they still for example don't care much about mobile phones, refer to the Americans as enemies of the cold war (don't worry my US friends, it doesn't go further than the reference as many Americans have already been there and were treated very kindly!) The people of Koptelovo speak in a very distinct local dialect, which I as a linguist was particularly interested in.  Plus the stunning nature of the North-East...

The landscape of the North-East differs from that near Yekaterinburg.

The Rezh river

Koptelovo village was built on the Rezh river in 1663. Those days rivers were the only way to get to the Urals as there were no roads. People travelled through the Arctic seas then down the rivers of the Northern Urals

The vast lands of the area make it possible to live on farming. Although the Urals is called a territory of risky farming, this area is good enough to grow wheat and...cucumbers. Very large cucumbers, they say!

Another church partly destroyed bu the Bolsheviks still waits for its investor. However, I like it as it is now

Baba Katya's izba is house-museum of the rural life in the Urals in 17th century

Tourists are welcome to visit Baba Katya's izba. She was the last owner of the house built 300 years ago and was the 18th member of the family in 30 square metres

You can go inside the izba and satisfy you curiosity as to how 18 people fitted in at once.

Inside the izba of Baba Katya

A wooden box on the stool in the middle is for a bay

Russian pechka (stove)

Only elderly people had a privilege to sleep on a warm pechka. The others slept on wooden berths or on the floor.

Accessories of a village girl of 17th century

The director of the local museum, a former school teacher, will tell you how young girls used to dress in order to get married asap. Kokoshnik (a dome-like head accessory) meant the girl was rich and had better chances. Interestingly, girls were considered worth marrying from 16 to 25, at the age of 26 they became old maids. Obviously the Ural people had less strict rules than my Belarusian grandmother. I was a hopeless case for her already at 22.

And of course the highlight of the journey to Koptelovo village - Singing Babushkas! Enjoy...

Singing babushkas of Koptelovo village, the Urals

Singing babushkas of Koptelovo village, the Urals

Singing babushkas of Koptelovo village, the Urals

By the way, their band is called The Restless!

see more pictures of Koptelovo village: