The town of Vylkove is often called “Ukrainian Venice.” The Old Believers founded the settlement in 1746 – now an elegant modern monument on the bank of the Danube River reminds one of this fact. It was erected in honor of first settlers who disembarked at the river mouth. The dumpy bronze figure of a bearded Old Believer with a big cross in his hand is called here “Ivan Lypovan,” though, naturally, no concrete historical person is implied.
The Old Believers were interested not only in the beauty of the Danube’s mouth with numerous large and small channels. The main point was that this locality was inaccessible for uninvited guests – all kinds of officials and gendarmes. The greater part of the village has small channels rather than streets, and the boats of the local residents have much in common with the boats of Ukrainian Cossacks.
There exists a joke in Vylkove: they say a local villager who wetted his whistle with “novak”(young red wine not older than one year, a favorite drink of the locals) can be easily recognized – he staggers only forward and back, and never left and right. The footbridges along the buildings in Vylkove are so narrow that you will be in the Danube in a blink in case you stagger left or right. However, the fact that the village is situated at the mouth of a large river has a positive as well. The river silt is a first-rate natural fertilizer ensuring Vylkove villagers record harvests of vegetables and greens.
The frontier of the Russian and Turkish empires ran through the village for two centuries. Later it became part of the Romanian kingdom for several decades (they say the last king Mikhaj liked this beautiful place very much. Sometimes he came there incognito to fish, and was on friendly terms with the local Old Believer fishermen. After World War II the frontier of the USSR with Romania passed through the town.
In contrast to Italian Venice, Vylkove has no stunning architectural masterpieces, if only a few elegant old churches. The village itself is an original memorial of co-existence of man and nature.
Now life is quiet at the frontier post that remained after Soviet times. The sea frontier guards enliven the pleasant provincial calm by inviting in summer venerable and young artists from all over Ukraine for wonderful Danube plein-air sessions.