The Old Believers

by Jorge Sanchez - 2 years, 1 month ago

I spent half a day in Tarbagatay. I went there by myself, in a minibus that I boarded in Ulan Ude, since in the hostel where I was lodged they offered an excursion to Tarbagatay but very expensive for my pocket.

Upon arriving to Tarbagatay I asked the local people where was the main Old Believers church, and they, Old Beleivers, as practically all the inhabitants of that village. showed me the way. When I arrived I saw a kind of huge museum on the open air, the door of the gate was open, and observed the church (it was closed) plus several old wooden buildings inside the complex. I waited for somebody to come, but after half an hour or so I left, since nobody appeared.I then walked around the village taking pictures of the lovely and old wooden houses, then climbed to a hill nearby to have a better view over the town. I saw a huge cross on the top of the hill with a sign nearby thanking the village of Tarbagatay for having accepted them to live there.


Perhaps I should have joined a tour in Ulan Ude to visit this place, or to have gone there on Sunday, to watch their religious service. I had seen pictures of the Old Beleivers with folkloric clothes and singing. But perhaps they only perform that for tourists or in special holy days.Anyway I enjoyed my visit and did not regret it.

The Old Believers did not accept the reforms introduced on the XVII century by Patriarch Nikon of Moscow. Old Believers continue liturgical practices that the Russian Orthodox Church maintained before the implementation of these reforms.


The spiritual culture of the Old Believers in Tarbagatay was proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.But I did not catch much of that. Anyway I was happy to have visited Tarbagatay.

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