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Home page / Regions / West Russia / Sighs of Novgorod

Sighs of Novgorod

Novgorod is used to rising from the ashes: it was nearly fully destroyed during the suppression of the Novgorod Veche, was damaged during the Swedish occupation and the 2nd World War. It used to have over 200 temples; now there are only 38. Nevertheless, however destroyed, burned down and sacked, Novgorod would revive every time and rise again showing some special will to live

Ancient Novgorod is an important center of Russian culture that did not suffer from Tatar-Mongol hordes and was the focus of chronicle writing, book publishing, literacy promotion (752 birch bark scrolls dated by the 11th through 15th century were found), played an important role in the development of Russian architecture, painting and applied arts.

In 1998 the city was renamed Velikiy Novgorod. OK, so you are in Velikiy Novgorod for whatever reason, on business or for pleasure. At any event you must walk and look around. You bet you will not be disappointed but will be carried away. Novgorod may be less beautiful than St. Petersburg, but even though it has been rebuilt many times it was able to preserve some true Russian dignity and refractory soul Your decision to have a look at the local sights is not going to be negative. Where is the usual question of all newcomers. We will try to give answers so that you do not need to ask again

Velikiy Novgorod Sights and Objects of Interest

Buildings and Architecture

Sure, the kremlin is where you should start. The Novgorod fortress is one of the oldest architecture monuments in Russia. The oldest building in the kremlin is St.Sofia and Gods Wisdom Cathedral which was built by Yaroslav the Wise. Make sure you visit the Palace of Facets. It was made by overseas craftsmen, hence Gothic lancet windows and European engravings on the walls. These walls remember a lot of history. This is whee Ivan the 3rd proclaimed the annexation of Novgorod lands by Moscow, Ivan the Terrible made the bloody feast, and the Nazis turned the Palace into a casino during the occupation.

An ancient Russian town is hard to imagine without a kremlin. It was the core of the city and would determine its layout and view. A kremlin or detinets was the government, public and religious center. This is where Veche was, elections of the governor, this is where Alexander the Nevskiys army set out to beat the Swedes from, its walls protected the main Sofia Cathedral and the residence of the Novgorod bishop, and finally, it was the kremlin where chronicles were compiled and books collected and written

Yaroslavova Dvorischa (early 11th century)

The ensemble of Yaroslavova Dvorischa, situated on the right bank of the Volhov opposite to the kremlin is a piece of Ancient Russia, an island of the legendary times when the heroes of Russian tales were walking on the streets of Novgorod: Sadko the rich guest and Vaska Buslay who did not believe in anything but his strength. This is where the townspeople would run to if the Veche bell was ringing and Buslays loud voice must have been heard far away. And if the legend has it right and Sadko was indeed a merchant, this is where his stores and shops were. Yaroslavs Court was right in the downtown area and there were lots of stores there.

Palace of Facets

The three-storey Palace of Facets is one of the most prominent buildings in the Vladychny Dvor built in 1433 by Bishop Yevfimiy. Time has not spared the initial looks of the palace but it can be traced by some details that stayed till nowadays. The interiors of the Palace are basically better preserved, especially the main hall on the third floor. Now the Palace seems to have two storeys because the ground floor turned into the basement with time.

Office Buildings (1783 1786)

The Office Building was erected from 1783 through 1786 to the south of the old administrative building of 1572. Its vaulted ground floor was kept in the 1783 building. In 1778 Office Buildings were set up in all major towns by the project of architect V.S.Polivanov.

Sofia Belfry (1437)

The Sofia Belfry is situated close to the Sophia Cathedral next to the kremlin wall. The annals mention it in 1437 for the first time telling us that it had fallen into the Volhov in 1439 together with the fortress wall during a flood. In 1439 Yevfimiy set up a new belfry. Its details can be seen as part of the more recent belfry that exists at present. New bells were brought from Moscow to Novgorod in the 17th century that required more narrow flights. Old flights were bricked up.

Velikiy Novgorod Churches and Cathedrals

Sofia Cathedral (10451050)

The Sofia Cathedral was built in Novgorod in 1050. It is one of the most striking monuments of the ancient Russian architecture. It is younger that the Sophia Cathedral in Kiev by just a few years. It is older than the Paris Godmother Cathedral by a century. It is a perfect building. Byzantium and Kiev architects were able to express the essence of the Novgorod character through this only stone building in the 11th century: reserve bordering on severity, large scale ideas and power.

Fedor Stratilat Church

The church is located on the Sophia side at the Statislavska street and Novoluchanka street junction. Two more streets used to be there in the ancient time, Schirkova and Rozvaja. This is the only ancient temple out of numerous stone churches mentioned in the chronicles that remained till the present within the ground wall.

Andrey Stratilat Church (11671173)

This church has a complicated building history. Initially, the Boris and Gleb Cathedral was built at that location in 1167 - 1173 by the order of a Novgorod citizen named Sotko Sytinych. The cathedral was rebuilt in 1441 by the command of Bishop Yevfimiy on the old basement, and a small church dedicated to saint martyr warrior Andrey Stratilat was built on the strong foundation of the 12th century tower.

Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Church (1156)

Overseas merchants that is Novgorod townspeople who traded with Western European countries built a church close to the Nikolskiy Cathedral that was devoted to Paraskeva Pyatinitsa, the patron of trade. Paraskeva means Friday in Greek. (Paraskeva was the daughter of a rich Roman who lived in the 3rd century and vowed celibacy; during oppression against Christians she was forced to get married but refused to and was beheaded). The first church must have probably been wooden. A new stone one was built in 1207.

St. Jen the Chrism Carrier Church (1508)

It was built in 1508 by the rich Moscow merchants Syrkovs. After Novgorod lands had been annexed by Moscow, Ivan the 3rd evicted many prominent noble and merchant families and handed over their property to Moscow merchants. They quickly increased wealth and built several churches here.

Cloisters

Antoniy Monastery (1106)

As the legend has it, the cloister was founded in 1106 by Antoniy the Roman who sailed to Novgorod on a stone having made a miraculous voyage around Europe in two days. The stone can still be seen at the porch of the Godmother Nativity Cathedral built in 1117. The funds for the construction of the cathedral were extracted by the saint from a barrel that sailed from Rome with treasures that his parents had bequeathed to him. In 1740 the Theological Seminary was set up in the Antoniy Monastery which is one of the oldest educational institutions of the Russian Empire.

Yriyev Monastery (1030)

The Monastery of St. Great Martyr, Victor and Wonder-worker Georgiy for many centuries was referred to as Yuriyev (Yuriy is a dialect form of the name Georgiy widely used in Russian) belongs to the oldest cloisters in Russia. It was founded in 1030 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise. Yaroslav Vladimirovich was baptized as Georgiy and deeply revered his patron from the heaven, he set up monasteries in Kiev and Novgorod for his name.

Dessyatinny Nunnery (1327)

The nunnery is situated in the Ludinny end, to the south of Prusska Street next to the rampart of Okolny. The nunnery is mentioned in chronicles for the first time in 1327 which says that archbishop Moses set up a church for Godmother in Dessyatina. In 1397 Novgorod governor Eesak Onkifov set up a new temple devoted to the nativity of Godmother, and in 1413 Ivan Morozov set up another stone church devoted to John the Baptist. Gradually the nunnery was getting a complex of buildings: stone cell walls, a chapel, a refectory, a kvass room. A stone belfry was erected in 1809 which capped the entire complex. It was reconstructed in 1903 and remained this way till the present.

Nikolo-Vyajishskiy Monastery (1391)

Seven miles to the north-west from Velikiy Novgorod there is a strikingly beautiful ensemble of the Vyajishskiy Monastery built in the upper flows of the Veryajy River. The exquisite and fine richly decorated buildings of the monastery look great with the nature in the background.

The Nikolo-Vyajishskiy Monastery was built in the last quarter of the 14th century. Coenobites Yevfrosin, Ignatiy and Galaktion founded it. The first superior of the monastery was celibate priest Pimen. Lands of the monastery are mention in the boundary charter of 1391.

Zverin (Pokrovskiy) Monastery (1148)

Nerevskiy End is one of the five ends, that is districts of medieval Novgorod. It occupied the northern part of the left-bank Sophia side. Town ends were not limited by the ramparts. Five temples that were called monuments of Nerevskiy End (Holy Trininty Church of the Svyato-Duhov Monastery, St.Peter and Paul Church in Kojevniki, St.Nickolas Church of the Belo-Nikolayevskiy Monastery, Simeon Church and Porkrovskaya Zverin Monastery) are situated outside of the rampart but on the territory that is adjacent to Nerevskiy End. Several dozens of temples were been built here during the history of the End. Archeologists were able to discover the location of several churches that used to be known only by chronicles.

Monuments

Russias Thousandth Anniversary Monument

Russias Thousandth Anniversary Monument is located right inside the kremlin, in its center. It was set up in 1862 to mark the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of the Russian state. The event was hailed as the national jubilation. A lot of nobles arrived in the city as well as several thousand troops to take part in a parade. On 8 September 1862 the monument was opened with Alexander the 2nd and his family present. The monument looks like the famous Monomahs hat. Some researchers believe though that the monument resembles a bell that was supposed to ring the posterity about the heroic past of Russia.

Monument to Alexander the Nevskiy

The author is Yu.Chernov. Velikiy Novgorod was famous not only for its wealth and arts, entrepreneurial wits of merchants but also for the bravery of its warriors. There was a proud saying then: Who is going against God and Velikiy Novgorod? In 1240 19 y.o. Novgorod Prince Alexander, the son of Yaroslav Vsevolodovich, led his troops against Swedish nights on the banks of the Neva and totally defeated them, hence his honorary nickname of Nevskiy. However, the imperious prince did not find a common language with the Veche and had to leave Novgorod. Crusader continued to raid Russian soil. When Livon knights were within 25 miles from the city, the veche invited Alexander back to the prince throne. In 1242 the great famous battle on the melting ice of Chudskoye Lake took place. It became known as the Icy Battle and stopped the seizure of Russian lands by crusaders.

Eternal Glory Flame

The Eternal Glory Flame memorial complex was opened on the 20th anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany on 8 May 1965. There had been two separate tombs in the kremlin before 1965 situated next to each other. The first one had prominent communists and bolsheviks from the Revolution. In 1937 a monument was set up on the tomb with the names of the buried. The other tomb was a common grave of the soldiers of the 59th Army who died in 1944 while liberating Novgorod. The two tombs were united in 1965.

Pedestrian Bridge across Volhov

In the 18th century a highway Moscow-St.Petersburg was laid down via Novgorod and a stone bridge was built in place of the old wooden one. A century later, a new one was built to replace it (by the project of engineer K.Reinhel) who was functioning till WWII with minor changes. In January 1944 Nazis blew up the bridge during their retreat from Novgorod under the pressure of the Russian offensive. For the time being a pedestrian is there instead of the old bridge. It connects the territory of the ancient Torg and kremlin.

The great bridge was the witness of intestine wars and executions: the condemned were thrown into the Volhov with their arms and legs tied. If the damned managed to get to the bank he was not thrown again as his salvation was ascribed to miraculous God powers.

Alexander the Nevskiy Bridge across Volhov

The two parts of the city of Velikiy Novgorod are connected with the Alexander the Nevskiy Bridge which was built before the war. Traffic is one of the major problems in the city. The bridge connects the central parts of the town. A terrific view of the city and the kremlin opens up from the bridge.

Museums

Wooden Architecture Museum Vitoslavitsy

A wonderful village is located in three miles from Novgorod in a picturesque location next to Myachino lake and the Volhov river. No one lives there. It is the Wooden Architecture Museum of Vitoslavitsy. In the 12th century there was a monastery there. Before, a small village of Vitoslavitsy was there. It must have been named so after its owner Vitoslav. It looks like the village was absorbed by the monastery as this name was never mentioned in chronicles after the 12th century. The open-air museum set up where this village used to be was named the same.

Palace of Facets

It is a collection of jewelry and various artifacts made of gold, silver, tin, porcelain, glass, wood, etc. in the 9th through 11th century by Byzantium, Russian and West-European craftsmen. Russian jewelry of the 11th through 17th century is a substantial part of the collection. It allows one to get the full picture of the Novgorod and Russian arts. All of them come from vestries of local churches and cloisters. Archeological and Historical Expositions The archeological collection of the museum includes different stuff ranging from the late Stone Age up to late Middle Ages. The core of the collection is the results of archeological research directly in Novgorod that have been carried out here from 1932 on a regular basis. The icon collection of the Novgorod State Museum is nearly as full and impressive as the Tretyakov Picture Gallery in Moscow and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. There is a collection of printed materials, a numismatic collection and a seals collection, manuscripts and old printed books.

Fine Arts Museum

The base of the museum was created after the revolution. Many canvases were brought from deserted noble estates that included outstanding works dated by the 18th and 19th centuries such as the Portrait of a Lady in a Cap with a Blue Ribbon by F.S.Rokotov and the Boy with a Dog by O.A.Kiprenskiy. After it was decided to set up the picture gallery in Novgorod, works from the Central Museum Fund were handed over to the museum, from St.Petersburg palaces and villas.

State Art Museum of Novgorod Region

The State Art Museum of Novgorod Region is the regional educational Center of Arts was set up in January 1994 and was opened to the public on 12 April 1994. The main idea of creating the Center with exposition halls was to unite creative professionals and popularization of arts of the Novgorod Region.


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