According to some archaeological facts, the history of the region dates back to the paleolitic period. The first settlements were founded along the Mologa and Sukhona rivers and near the Beloe lake. One of the first towns of the Oblast is Beloozero (862). The town of Veliky Ustyug was founded in the middle of the XIIth century. The first reference to Vologda, the center of the Vologda Oblast, dates back to 1147 the same year Moscow was founded. A saying goes that in the XVIth century the Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible even intended to make Vologda the capital of Russia.
Peter the Great paid much attention to Vologda. However, after Petersburg had been laid Vologda's significance as a big transport juncture was considerably reduced.
Peter the Great favoured greatly the industrial development of Russia. In 1703 two metal working plants were commissioned in the oblast. Woodworking industry started to develop in the XVIIIth century. Wood processing enterprises of Vologda and Tot'ma supplied timber products not only to local but also to Arkhangelsk and foreign consumers. Then two glass factories were set up in Vologda and near Kadnikov.
Since the end of the XVIIth century the importance of Cherepovets, the biggest industrial city in the oblast nowadays, started to grow dramatically, particularly after the construction of the Volga-Baltic canal.
One of the prior industries of the XIXth century was the flax spinning industry. In 1851 in Krasavino, near Veliky Ustyug, a flax spinning factory was commissioned producing scarves, napkins and tablecloths that became widely spread in Russia.
Towards the end of the XIXth century a pulp and paper and wood processing factories were set up in Sokol 40 Km (25 MI) off Vologda.
Butter making became popular at that period of time. Vologda butter, as well as Vologda lace, is nowadays known world-wide.
In post revolutionary time Vologda together with all Russian people suffered the tragedy and experienced the achievements of the social epoch of great experiments. On September 23, 1937, there appeared a Decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, according to which the Vologda Oblast was formed within its modern borders. The battles of World War II almost did not touch the Vologda oblast. The hostilities took place only in Prionezhye (near Onezhskoye Lake). The front-line, established in 1941, almost did not change, till Russian troops broke through the Leningrad blockade. At that time Vologda stayed a front-line city, fatefully intended to give refuge to people evacuated from the western parts of the USSR and to recover wounded soldiers and commanders. Weakened by the horrors and hunger of blockade, the citizens of Leningrad were taken out of the city across ice-covered Ladozhskoye Lake. Great many people could not endure the burdens along the way. In honour of that tragic time a special monument was erected on the communal grave of Leningradians who perished on the "road of life". For these three years of war Vologda remained one of the most important medical centres for three fronts. That period of the city's history is marked by numerous memorial boards attached to buildings where hospitals were situated in war-time.
The Vologda oblast is famous for the number and significance of its historical and cultural monuments: the Vologda Kremlin; Spaso-Prilutsky, Kirillo-Belozersky, St. Ferapont, St. Michael and Archangel monasteries. Ancient towns of Vologda, Veliky Ustyug, Tot'ma, Ustyuzhna, Belozersk and Kirillov are well known all over the country.
Dionisy's frescoes in the Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral of St. Ferapont monastery are real treasures among the monumental fine art works.
Today the Vologda Oblast is one of the important cultural and economic centers of Russia's North-West.