The Talab islands

6 copyThe group of Talab islands is located in the PskovLake, which is the southern part of the Pskov-Peipsi water body. All three islands of the Talab archipelago were formed approximately 12 thousand years ago, at the spot of a prolong delay in the retreat of the glacier. The Talab islands are situated in the south-eastern part of the PskovLake, 23 km northwest of Pskov, and 6 km west of the River Tolba delta.

The western island – Belov (formerly Upper) – is the biggest; the eastern one is Zalit, with the isle of Talabenets between them – the smallest of all three. They are separated by narrow straits.

According to literary references, the Pskov-PeipsiLake is home to 69 islands of around 35 sq. km total area, but most of them are rather small. The Talab islands are fairly large. The Upper Island – largest of the three – is 0.85 sq. km, Zalit is 0.62 sq. km, and Talabenets is only 0.07 sq. km. The UpperIslands is 800 meters wide, stretching almost 1.5 km northeast to southwest. The island’s surface is elevated to 15-20 meters above the lake.

The northwestern shore of the island is steep and precipitous, whereas the southeastern one is rather flat and covered with glacio-lacustrine sands.

The most interesting natural sites of the UpperIsland are the wave-cut terrace with boulder fields, submarine ridges, large boulders, abrasion precipices on the western and northwestern shores, and ancient glacier zones in the shape of dunes. One of the top peculiarities of the UpperIsland is the Big Grove located in the island’s northwest. These are the famous spruces – part to the southern taiga which used to cover the north of the PskovLand.

According to literature (Sandoyevsky, 1892), the first settler on the islands was a man from the Finn-Ugric tribe of Chud’ named Tala – hence the name of the islands. Andrei Manakov suggested an alternative theory, according to which the name of the islands is connected to the name of the northern Latgale province of Talava.

10 copyAbout 1470, Reverend Dositheus founded a monastery on the UpperIsland and commemorated it to Saint Peter and Paul. Further on in 1584, the abode was registered with the Pskov-Pechory Monastery, and in 1764 it was abolished, with the temple turned into a parish church.

It is a known fact that it was namely from here – the Talabs – Peter the Great recruited ship-masters to build his fleet. In 1820, the settlements on Talabsk and UpperIsland were renamed after Tsar Alexander, son of Paul, and became Alexander Posad. The posad status granted Talabians with economic advantages, facilitating development of merchantry. The rich merchants of the Talabs gained the opportunity to process their catch. The fisheries were mainly placed close to the shore, with people employed there settling in the direct vicinity.

The present names – Belov and Zalit – were given to the islands after 1917.