Ded Moroz, the Russian Santa
and his helper, Snegurochka
don't make their home at the North Pole but in the Russian town of Veliky Ustyug. The closest large city to Veliky Ustyug is Vologda, almost 500 km away, but Ded Moroz's home used to be a thriving northern military outpost, and its remoteness has enabled it to maintain its old-world feel.
Veliky Ustyug is trapped in time in more ways than one, however. While 17th-century churches recall its former glory, it will take patient and adventurous travelers a trek across the Russian north to get there.
Ded Moroz and Veliky Ustyug:
The Ded Moroz legend gained a foothold in reality in 1998 when Moscow's Mayor gave the Russian Santa a home in Veliky Ustyug. Established as Ded Moroz's home, it has built up its appeal as Russia's Christmas town ever since. Now, Ded Moroz's residence, a wooden "palace" built in a style that recalls Russian architecture of old, is a major attraction there. Ded Moroz's residence is a part of a recreational center suitable for both children and adults, a Ded Moroz souvenir shop supplies guests with memories of their stay, and the Ded Moroz post office sends and receives letters from the Russian Santa himself.
Ded Moroz's Address and the Post Office in Veliky Ustyug:
Children who want to write to Ded Moroz should write to:
Santa Claus Mail
To improve the letter's chances of arriving at Veliky Ustyug Post Office, use Russian letters for the address:
г. Великий Устюг,
Почта Деда Мороза
Tip: print out this page and snip the address to attach to the envelope if you're uncertain how to print Cyrillic letters.
Include a return address so that Ded Moroz can write back to you!
Other Sights in Veliky Ustyug:
Veliky Ustyug has been described as an open-air museum because many centuries-old structures are preserved, like the Ascension Church and Dormition Cathedral. Shops selling locally produced wares - like niello and birchbark items - and Ded Moroz-related memorabilia can also be visited.
Getting to Veliky Ustyug:
Getting to Veliky Ustyug is no easy feat. The nearest train station, Yadrikha, is 50 km away, though it does connect to Veliky Ustyug by tram. You'll spend about 13 hours on the train to Vologda from the Yadrikha train station, and about 20 to get to Moscow. Limited service to the Veliky Ustyug airport connects the town to Vologda.