Orel (or Oryol) is a city, regional center in Russia, which name translates as “Eagle.” It is the first city in Russia where the author encountered a clearly distinguishable variety of the Russian language. Here, people speak in the Kursk-Oryol dialect.

The residents of Oryol have a distinct way of speaking. They have certain speech characteristics such as the use of “а” instead of “о,” “ы” instead of “и,” and “щ” instead of “ш.” They pronounce “в” as “у” and “ф” as “х,” and their speech has a staccato-like rhythm as if in a military roll call. The Oryol dialect sounds noticeably harsh to the Moscow ear. Additionally, the locals express themselves in a peculiar and somewhat disjointed manner.

Here are a few amusing incidents that the author heard during their two days in Oryol.

“And the dessert you don‘t want or what?”
(In response to the request for the bill at the most expensive hotel in the city.)

“Okay, now once again, but louder.”
(The waitress at a trendy café taking an order.)

“There’s no cheesecake, it was all devoured yesterday.”
(Same place.)

“Here’s your little pizza.”
(Same place, a different waiter on the next day.)

An unprepared speaker of the literary Old Moscow language may be taken aback and feel a bit bewildered. But in reality, it is by no means an expression of rudeness or disrespect. It’s just how they speak in Oryol.

Oryol is an incredibly dull and meaningless city. Neither Tula nor Ryazan have come close to it in any way.

The Oryol hotel was located in a regular 16-story building. Next to the newly built structure stood a tilted wooden house with a garden, followed immediately by a freshly renovated school building.

I left the “hotel,” took a stroll along the street, and turned around. The hotel-containing building towered against the backdrop of someone’s mansion.

On the other side of the mansion, there were garages against the backdrop of a Soviet-era five-story building.

A few steps further, there was a wooden house with an attempt at decorative window frames and an awkward extension on the right.

“Aha,” I thought, and pulled out a small spring notebook into which I wrote: “Architectural eclecticism.”

Like many other provincial cities, Oryol is composed half of wooden buildings and half of panel houses.

The multi-story part of Oryol is terrifyingly ugly.


Inner courtyards.

Stairway to heaven.

Shops on the ground floor.

Small stalls.


Do not walk on the lawns.

Well, at least it’s cheap. You can buy an apartment for a little over a million.

Moreover, in Oryol, you can earn a decent income. That is, if the police don’t catch you.

The other side of Oryol, with its wooden buildings, is mainly primitive and bears no resemblance to the beautiful carved houses in Suzdal.

At times, it can be equally dreadful, just like the panel housing.

The city has a historical district where several famous writers lived. However, the district is quite unremarkable. Leskov’s house is in a neglected state.

Turgenev’s museum is wealthier but in a similar state of disarray. There is absolutely nothing to do in either museum, yet Oryol claims to be the “literary treasure trove” of Russia.

The disaster did not spare the transportation either. In Oryol, there is a tram system that is in a terrible condition, even worse than in Tver.

The majority of buses are Hungarian Ikarus models from the early 1990s.

But there is no money for such luxury, so the most common mode of transportation in Oryol is the Soviet-era PAZ-3205, which was “developed through the creation of dozens of experimental prototypes over almost 15 years.”

Of course, the financial issue has also let us down here. In order for a bus to operate, it needs gasoline. But where can you get it in a country with the largest oil reserves?

Hence, the PAZ buses in Oryol run on methane...

There is absolutely nothing to do in Oryol. The few artifacts that exist could potentially help the city, but they are so scarce and unremarkable that it is not worth coming here specifically for them.

“Communication Cable” sign.

Box “For letters and newspapers.”

Soviet glass engraving: “Entry to the hotel upon presentation of a guest card.”

A small pleasant section of the waterfront in the city center.

The only truly beautiful building in Orel is the central bank.

At least the bank had enough money for repairs.