I went to the library today to do a little research into something I'll blog about shortly (or eventually), and stumbled upon something else - a reference to Taganrog's past as a pilgrimage destination:
"And specially from every shire's ende of Russia to Taganrog they wende."
Just kidding. What it really said was:
"Just as streams flow to the sea, so too did pilgrims from different areas of Russia wishing to get to Palestine set out for our city."
...Yup. And apparently there was actually a group called the Православное палестинское общество/Orthodox Palestinian Society, which was dedicated to serving the pilgrims who came through Taganrog on their way to the Holy Land. No dates were given in the source I was reading, but it appears that this was fashionable (among a certain set, anyway) in the second half of the 19th century. Pilgrims would come down to Taganrog to catch a ship bound for Constantinople, and from there they'd head to Jerusalem to "bow at the grave of the Lord." Unfortunately, the ship for Constantinople was either not that good about posting its schedule or not that frequent, because said pilgrims often found themselves spending several days camped out here, sometimes without shelter. Orthodox Palestinian Society to the rescue! A noblewoman donated her house, and under the direction of a local shipping merchant, it was turned into a hostel for pilgrims, with ten spaces for men and ten for women, a small chapel, and a well-kept garden. Unfortunately, the house is no longer there, having been replaced by a five-story apartment building.
Beyond its face value as a quirky part of the city's past, this is interesting because passenger ships to Constantinople (or Istanbul, for that matter) no longer leave from Taganrog, but from Novorossiysk, down on the Black Sea coast. It's probably just as well for Taganrog; it's notoriously difficult to develop a booming tourism industry around pilgrims.