Lake Velyo is located in the Novgorod region, on the territories of Valdai and Demyansk districts and covers an area of about 35 sq km. Sparsely populated coast surrounded by mixed forests, sandy bottom and the shore, the Lake Velyo water is safe to drink. History of Lake Velyo has its origins in the ancient glaciers, which are about eleven thousand years ago left a powerful moraine ridge, now known as the Valdai Hills, and an immense lake.
The first human settlements appeared on the shores of the lake around the V century BC, during the Neolithic Age. Primitive people built their homes, reminiscent of the dugout and huts near the water. Hunting and fishing, the benefit of the living creatures in this region has always been in abundance. Stone boulders with strange patterns left by ancient people have been found by the archaeological team, who studied the coastal strip of the lake and the surrounding forest.
At the end of the I century BC, with the advent of iron tools, the Finno-Ugric tribes who inhabited the coast, left behind the names of local lakes and rivers. There is a theory that the name of the lake – “Velyo”, translated from the ancient Finnish as “big”, “extensive”. Several settlements of ancient Finns were once between modern villages Podberezye and Osinushka.
In the VI century, these lands were inhabited by Krivichy tribes, after which, in the woods around the lake and along the coast, ancient burial-mounds are still found. In the VIII century, Ilmensk Slovenes tribes came to the Valdai Hills. The monuments of this era – burial mounds are huge, up to ten meters high, holding the dust of once the tribal nobility. Such a hill you can find, for example, in the middle of the village Velyo. By the XII century the ancient Slavs had created a whole network of small settlements, usually concentrated around a large, fortified settlement with a church. From similar “regional centers” Christianity spread through Russia, replacing the pagan gods.
Such a settlement, or rather a huge earthen wall remaining from the ancient settlement, is located near the Lake, the village of Peski (Sands) and it is called “Knyazha mountain.” Fortified settlements were built here from the XIII to XVII to resist Lithuanian invasion. In the XIV century, it was a part of the main trade route of medieval Russia – from Tver to Novgorod. And with the transfer of the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, through the Valdai stretches the main path of the Russian Empire – Petersburg. After the end of the Russian-Swedish war and the signing of Stolbovo in 1617, according to which part of the Karelian land was given to Sweden, much of the Karelians, in search of new habitats had to leave their land, settled on Lake Seliger and Lake Velyo.
In the first half of the XIX century in the village Nikolsky, on the left bank of the lake was opened Russia’s first fish hatchery, awarded with the recognition of the Russian Society of Agriculture and the Medal of the Paris Society of acclimatization. This fish farm exists to this day, being engaged in cultivation of valuable fish species.
During World War II there has been heavy fighting. Not far from the lake fell pilot Alexei Meresyev. Within a half year in these places went tense standoff between the invaders and our army. In this operation, called “Demyansk pot”, participated, notorious for their brutality, the German Division “Totenkopf”. Our troops were on the west bank of Velyo, German troops occupied the eastern shore of the lake. Old-timers remember the story, that in winter our soldiers, while waiting for ammunition, played football with the Nazis on the ice. Throughout the right bank of Vella can still be found trenches and bunkers, iron SS inscribed crosses.
After the war, in the 50s of XX century, in the depths of the forests to the north-east of the lake began to build a defensive ring of Moscow. There are numerous built missile bases that were clearly visible in the photographs from American satellites. After the adjustment, all the bases have been reorganized, derelict and at the moment about them resemble skeletons of buildings only in the dense forests surrounding the lake.