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Veliky Novgorod

Veliky Novgorod is one of the oldest cities in Russia. The town is located on the picturesque banks of the river Volkhov. Novgorod was first mentioned in chronicles in 859. Scientists consider that this is the date of its founding. In those days, it was called Новый город (New town). These two words put together gave the name of Novgorod.

Novgorod played a significant role in the history of ancient Russia. The West criticise today’s Russia for its lack of democratic ideals, but in Novgorod, at the beginning of the last millennium, this form of direct democracy, or вече (a popular assembly of men on the main square of the city to decide the urgent problems of the city’s administration and its protection) was normal. Regardless of the social status and wealth, everyone had the same right to vote. Because a hundred years ago Veliky Novgorod had a great authority in Ancient Russia, the town was called Господин Великий Новгород (Lord Novgorod the Great).

In the end of the 13th century and until the early 16th century, Novgorod was one of the greatest centres of Ancient Russia. Now Novgorod is a big modern city. But it is also a city-museum, in which have been preserved ancient architectural monuments until today. The heart of the city is the Kremlin of Novgorod. On its territory stands ancient monuments: St. Sophia Cathedral, a monument from the 11th century, and churches from the 12th to 16th centuries. In the centre of the Kremlin we can see a monument of the second half of the 19th century “the Millennium of Russia”.

Wonderful monuments of Russian architecture have reached our time through 10 centuries of wind, rain and frost. Today, ancient Orthodox churches can be seen everywhere in the city centre. They can stand very close from each others, only separated by few meters.

The city was severely damaged during WWII. Now it is difficult to believe that this beautiful city has reborn from ruins. Priceless monuments of the culture of ancient Russian has been restored.

And later, a unique museum of wooden architecture opened its doors near the city centre. There can be found original monuments of architecture brought from the Northern regions of Russia. So if you haven’t the chance to visit the legendary island of Kizhi in the Northern Republic of Karelia, the visit of the museum of architecture in Novgorod is a good alternative.

Thousands of people who are interested in ancient Russian cities, attend to Novgorod every year. Artists and architects learn from the old Russian masters. The welcoming land of Novgorod is offering its wealth to the visitors.

Евгения Плещунова