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​Veliky Novgorod

The past glory and significance of the city is seen in the architecture preserved from the 11th century and ancient fortresses

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The Rise of the  

Great Rurik  Dynasty

For the first time, the word “Novgorod” is mentioned in a chronicle dating back to the 9th century when Knyaz Rurik settled here with his family and gave rise to the great Rurik dynasty. Leading a team from Novgorod, Knyaz Oleg conquered Kiev, and Kievan Rus was formed. Novgorod became the second most important city in the state.

During the years of the yoke, the city constantly paid tribute to the Horde, so that the Tatars did not attack its lands and managed to save unique architecture. Nowadays not many cities in Russia preserve pre-Mongolian buildings. Having escaped destruction, the city played an important role in protecting the North-Western borders of Russia from Swedish and German aggression.

short city information

LOCAL TIME
UTC+3
CLIMATE
Temperate
POPULATION
200 thousand people
HOW TO GET
4 hours by bus from Saint Petersburg
HIGHLIGHT
Kremlin, Yaroslav’s Courtyard, Yuriev Monastery, Vitoslavitsy Open-Air Museum

types of tourism

A lady with binocular sightseeing

Excursion

Gilded onion domes with crosses of an orthodox church

Religious

Small thick pancakes prepared on kefir and decorated with fruits

culinary

A volcano and the sea

nature

former way of life

The First  Free Republic

In the 12th century, Novgorod received the status of the first free republic on the territory of Rus. The life of the city was governed by the Veche. The elders who were part of it decided all issues related to war and peace, chose the ruler of the city, passed laws and concluded treaties with neighboring cities and principalities.

The form of the government was not the only peculiarity of the city at that time. Modern scientists discovered that the citizens of Novgorod were surprisingly literate. Archeologists found lots of birch bark manuscripts used by the citizens in the everyday life to write a note or a letter. They even discovered manuscripts of a 9-year old boy, which seems unreal for the level of literacy in Rus of that time.

Intersection of Major Trade Routes

Two Banks of  Volkhov River

Novgorod is located on the two banks of the Volkhov River. The center of the city is situated on the so-called «Sofia side» where all the major city sights can be found, including the Kremlin, the St. Sophia Cathedral, the «Millennium of Russia» monument.

The second side of the river is the «Trade side». For a long time, Novgorod was an important trade city, the intersection of major trade routes linking the Baltic States, the Mediterranean, the East, Flanders, Scandinavia, Constantinople, and Astrakhan. Only the construction of St. Petersburg led to the loss of this ancient city’s significance. On the Trade side, the major sights are Yaroslav’s Court and St. Nicholas Cathedral founded as a residence of Prince Yaroslav in the 11th century.

© Center for Tourism Development "Krasnaya Izba"

inside the stone walls

Kremlin  & St Sophia Cathedral

The historical center of the city is surrounded by the ancient stone walls of the Kremlin, built in the 15th century by Ivan the 3rd when he conquered Novgorod and joined it to Moscow. Inside the Kremlin is the symbol of Novgorod, the St. Sophia the Cathedral.

It is the oldest building in the European part of Russia. The temple was built in just five years, from 1045 to 1050. The majority of frescoes are of the 19th century, but on the central dome, some fragments of the frescoes of 1109 have been preserved.

Near the belfry, you can get to the fortress wall and enjoy a first-class view of the Volkhov River and the Trade side, you can even see the Yuriev Monastery and the Rurik settlement.

Photos © Center for Tourism Development "Krasnaya Izba"

unique monuments

Vitoslavitsy  Museum

The Vitoslavlitsy Museum of Wooden Architecture is located in a unique historical and landscape area just 4 km from Velikiy Novgorod. At the eastern part of the museum territory, you can enjoy a beautiful view of Lake Myachino, the floodplain of the Volkhov River, and the Rurik settlement with the Church of the Annunciation.

The uniqueness of the Vitoslavlitsy Museum is in the architectural value of the transported monuments. There are 34 unique buildings including 10 religious (churches and chapels). Three of them are objects of wooden architecture of the 16th century, including one of the oldest wooden churches in Russia – the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin that was built in 1531.

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вел новгород, витославицы
ВН33

© Victoria Vasilieva (https://www.flickr.com/photos/vasilv_spb/with/4606896279/)

heritage of Byzantine culture

Valday Iversky Monastery

In Novgorod Oblast, there is one of the most significant spiritual places in Russia of the 17th century – Valday Iversky Monastery. It was founded by Patriarch Nikon in the image of the Iversky monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. The building of this monastery supported the idea of the continuity of Russia in the heritage of Byzantine spiritual culture.

Having become the richest and most famous of the monasteries of that time, it became the center of spiritual enlightenment. It also was one of the few centers of book printing in Russia, the place where crafts were born and developed.

The monastery is situated on one of the islands of the picturesque Valdai Lake. The pure and untouched nature makes the silent peace of the island even more inspiring.

Western Outpost

Tikhvin 

The history of the monastery is strongly connected with the Theotokos of Tikhvin icon, one of the most significant relics of Orthodoxy. As the legend says, the icon appeared in a bright radiance, the image soared in the air over the waters of Lake Ladoga. After that it appeared here and there, giving healing to the suffering until it stopped not far from the future city of Tikhvin and sank to the ground. Dimitry Donskoy heard about the miracle and ordered to build a wooden church of the Assumption here.

During the 2nd World War, the icon was stolen by the Nazis, but after their defeat, it was found in the United States of America. There the relic was carefully kept by the archbishop of Chicago and his son till the Tikhvin monastery restoration was finished. In 2004, the icon was officially returned to its historical place.

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