In recent years, the village of Kamenka in Russia’s Lipetsk region has become popular as the home of Zmei Gorynich, a giant three-headed statue of one of the most iconic villains of Slavic folk stories.
In Russian and Ukrainian folklore, a Zmei Gorynich is a monstrous dragon. In skazki (Russian folktales) and byliny (Russian epic poetry), is a dragon or serpent, or sometimes a human-like character with dragon-like traits. The word zmei in Russian is the masculine form of zmeya, meaning “snake” while the term Zmei Gorynishche literally means “Dragon, the Son of a Mountain”.
The impressive statue is located in “Safari Park Kudykin Mountain”, a family theme park, on the outskirts of the village, and the statue is literally an “extremely realistic” and “frighteningly attractive” rendition of the main antagonist in dozens of Russian folk stories and legends.
Created by Ukrainian sculptor Vladimir Kolesnikov, the impressive statue stands about 15 meters high and is about as large as you’d expect a fearsome three-headed dragon to be. Oh, and it breathes fire from time to time.
Work on this real-life version of Zmei Gorynich began in 2015 and was completed after about two years. It consists mainly of an iron frame and concrete, and depicts the creature in all of its terrifying glory, atop a small mound, in the middle of the Kudykina Gora family park.
Even before its completion in 2017, photos of the then-wingless Zmei Gorynich went viral on social media, getting over one million likes on Facebook alone and drawing tourists to Kamenka village.
And today, tens of thousands of tourists visit the park every year to see this real-life dragon for themselves.
The highlight of a visit to Kudykina Gora is hearing the dragon let out a scream just before spouting flames through all its three mouths, leaving plumes of black smoke floating around.
These special effects can only be witnessed at 7 pm on weekends, and on national holidays.
Author’s notes: to see this impressive statue of Zmei Gorynich with your own eyes, you’ll have to travel 400 km from Moscow along the M4 Don highway.
The 500-hectare Kudykina Gora theme park is free to visit and features a variety of attractions for the whole family.
Images from web – Google Research
Park’s website is here, it’s in Russian, but it’s no trouble as it contains a handy map of the place along with pictures.