Veliky Novgorod

Veliky Novgorod (until 1999, the official name was Novgorod) is a city located in the Northwestern Federal District of Russia. The administrative center of the Novgorod region, as well as the Novgorod district, which it is not part of, has the status of a city of regional significance, forming the urban district of Veliky Novgorod with the only settlement in its composition.

The City of Military Glory.

Veliky Novgorod is one of the oldest cities in Russia, according to one of the annalistic versions (in the Novgorod First Chronicle), the place of calling of the Varangians (traditionally associated with the birth of Russian statehood) and the first capital of Rus’. In the Middle Ages, it was the second most important center of Kievan Rus after Kiev. In the 12th-15th centuries, it was the capital of the Novgorod Republic until it came under the authority of the Moscow principality in 1478. From this year onwards, it was the center of Novgorod land as part of the Russian kingdom.

The official date of the foundation of Novgorod is 859, according to the city’s first mention in the late Nikon Chronicle (XVI century). In the “Tale of Bygone Years,” created in the XII century, the city was first mentioned in 862. However, the chronicles could refer to the city’s existence to this time since the reliably dated archaeological layers of Novgorod date back to no earlier than the 930s.

According to archaeologists, Novgorod appeared around the turn of the 9th or 10th century or at the beginning of the 10th century at the source of the Volkhov River from Ilmen Lake.

The first bridge across the Volkhov was built in the second quarter of the 10th century.

In 1136, Novgorod became the first free republic in the territory of feudal Rus’ (from that moment on, the powers of the Novgorod prince were sharply limited). In the 12th-15th centuries, Novgorod was part of the Hanseatic Trade Union. For the period starting from 1136 and ending in 1478, when Novgorod lost (as a result of the victory of the Moscow prince Ivan III the Great over the Novgorodians) political independence, it is customary to use the term “Novgorod Republic” concerning the Novgorod land (the government of the latter used the designation, Lord Veliky Novgorod).

The Mongol invasion did not touch Novgorod. However, the city paid tribute to the Mongol Horde and retained unique monuments of ancient Russian architecture of the pre-Mongolian period (the most famous of them is St. Sophia Cathedral). It was the only one of the ancient Russian cities that escaped decline and fragmentation in the 11th-12th centuries.

In 1569-1570, Novgorod was subjected to the oprichnina pogrom of Ivan the Terrible, accompanied by massacres of the townspeople. In 1611-1617 the city was under the rule of the Swedes. After the founding of St. Petersburg, the city lost its economic importance, particularly staying away from the main trade routes.

In 1727 Novgorod became the center of the Novgorod province. Since 1927 it has become part of the Leningrad region. During the Great Patriotic War, the Germans occupied and almost destroyed the city. After the liberation, it became a regional center, was rebuilt, and many historical buildings were restored.

Architecture and main attractions

The architecture of Veliky Novgorod can be divided into several periods of development:

• The architecture of ancient Novgorod (this includes the period from the emergence of the city in the 9th century to the annexation of the Novgorod Republic to the Russian state).
• The architecture of Novgorod is part of the Russian state and the Russian Empire (the period from the middle of the 15th century to 1917).

The most important building of ancient Novgorod before the emergence of the veche republic was the St. Sophia Cathedral, built in 1045-1050. Together with the citadel, it formed the monumental center of the city, uniting separate settlements (ends) around itself. Opposite the citadel, on the Yaroslav’s Court, in 1113, the Nikolo-Dvorishchensky Cathedral was founded – the compositional center of the Trade Side, which after 1136 became the main veche temple of Novgorod. In addition, in 1119, the Cathedral of St. George was built, and in 1117-1119 – the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin was in the St. Anthony Monastery.

The Novgorod Detinets, also known as the Novgorod Kremlin, is a fortified complex. It stands on the left bank of the Volkhov River about two miles north of where it empties of Lake Ilmen. Novgorod Detinets, as part of the historical center of Veliky Novgorod, is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The compound was originally the site of a pagan burial ground upon which the first bishop of Novgorod, Ioakim Korsunianin, built the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom upon his arrival in the area around 989. Thus, the compound was and remained largely an ecclesiastical site. However, many Novgorodian boyars built their houses in the southern part of the Detinets.

The first reference of the fortification on the site dates to 1044, with additional construction in 1116. These were probably earthen embankments topped by a wooden palisade, although stone towers and walls were built in 1302.

Archbishop Vasily Kalika (1330–1352) rebuilt the stone wall along the eastern side of the Detinets in 1331–1335. The rest was completed in stone only in 1400. Under the rule of Archbishop Evfimy II (1429–1458), a council hall for the nobility council and a clock tower were built in the Episcopal compound in 1433 and 1436, respectively. Due to its elaborate Gothic vaults, the council hall, now called the Episcopal Chamber or the Chamber of Facets, is one of the easternmost examples of Brick Gothic. In 1437, part of Vasily’s walls collapsed into the Volkhov River and were rebuilt by Evfimy II.

The fortress was rebuilt between 1484 and 1490 by Muscovite builders in the wake of Grand Prince Ivan III’s conquest of the city in 1478; a third of it was paid for by the Novgorodian archbishop Gennady, a Muscovite appointee (1484–1504).

It is a large oval 545 meters long and 240 meters wide with nine surviving towers (three additional towers have not survived). The tallest tower, the Kokui Tower, is capped by a silver dome. It was built in the 18th century, and its name is of Swedish origin. Today it is possible to enter this tower and climb to the top. The walls are 1,487 meters in circumference.

During this period, the Grand Dukes, and later the tsars, built many churches in Novgorod and its environs. So, in 1557, the Church of Nikita the Martyr was built in the 1560s Trinity Cathedral of the Klopsky Monastery by decree of Ivan the Terrible. The construction of street churches also continued – for example, in 1536, residents of Zapolskaya and Konyukhova streets erected the Church of Boris and Gleb in Plotniki.

After the events of the beginning of the XVII century and until the construction of the new capital – St. Petersburg, Novgorod continued to be one of the most important cities of the Russian state. The Novgorod voivode had his own money yard, and active trade was conducted. In the 1690s, Gostiny Dvor was built on the Torgovaya side (now only the Gate Tower and the arcade from the side of the Volkhov River embankment remain from this large complex). In 1682-1688 the grandiose Znamensky Cathedral was built – a temple that appeared typical of Moscow churches of that time.

At the beginning of the XVIII century, in the development of Novgorod, urban planning principles introduced by Peter I in St. Petersburg began to be applied. The Sofia side was given a radial-semicircular layout, and the Trade side received a grid of streets consisting of rectangular quarters. In 1771, the Travel Palace was built at the end of the 18th century – Metropolitan’s chambers in the Kremlin. In 1783-1786 on the site of the Order Chamber of the 17th century, the building of the Public Places was under construction (now it is the main building of the Novgorod State United Museum-Reserve).

In the 1820s, on the site of the Small Earthen City (a complex of defensive structures built during the time of Ivan IV), a garden of about 22 hectares (now the Kremlin Park) was arranged around the Kremlin wall. In 1828, the project of Sophia Square was approved – the main square of the city, intended for reviews and parades of troops. In 1851, according to the project of A. I. Stackenschneider, the building of the Nobility Assembly was erected on it (after the war, the building was heavily rebuilt. Currently, it houses the Museum of Fine Arts). One of the most famous sights of Novgorod was the Millennium of Russia monument erected in 1862.


Novgorod Museum-Reserve:

  • Expositions and exhibitions on the territory of citadel
  • The main building of the museum (formerly the building of the Presences)
  • History of the Novgorod land
  • Old Russian icon painting of the XI-XVII centuries
  • Carved wood XIV-XVII centuries
  • Russian fine art of the 18th-20th centuries
  • Saint Sophia Cathedral
  • “Ancient bells of Veliky Novgorod” in the Belfry of St. Sophia Cathedral
  • Vladychnaya (Faceted) Chamber
  • Decorative, applied and jewelry art of the XI-XX centuries.

Stand-alone monuments of the Sofia and Trade sides:

  • Church of Simeon the God-Receiver
  • Exhibition halls of Yaroslav’s Court
  • Gate tower (“Gridnitsa”)
  • Exhibition “Saved frescoes” (frescoes from the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Kovalev, XIV century)
  • Cathedral of the Sign
  • Church of the Transfiguration on Ilyina street
  • Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in Antonov
  • Church of the Nativity on the Red Field

  • Georgievsky Cathedral of St. George’s Monastery
  • Museum of Wooden Folk Architecture “Vitoslavlitsy
  • “The State Museum of Artistic Culture of the Novgorod Land” in the Desyatinny Monastery
  • Museum Workshop of Porcelain
  • The Museum of Written Culture and Books in the sub-church of the Church of the Presentation of the Lord of the 16th century on the territory of the Anthony Monastery
  • Film museum in a historical building of the XIX century on Rogatica street, 16/21
  • Museum of Archeology named after Sergei Orlov at the Humanitarian Institute of Novgorod State University named after Yaroslav the Wise
  • Novgorod Center for Contemporary Arts
  • Yuryev Monastery

Main information

Area: 90 sq. km

Coordinates: 58°33′N 31°16′E

Population: 224 286

Languages: Russian

Currency: roubles

Visa: Russian

Time: UTC+3:00

Telephone code: +7 8162

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