Today I will tell you about my trip to one of the most ancient Russian cities, which was the second most important center of Kievan Rus’ after Kiev and which has preserved many ancient Russian sights – Veliky Novgorod.
My trip to Veliky Novgorod was, as well as to Zelenogorsk (which I wrote about earlier), for one day. Only this time we went by car. This has its advantages and disadvantages compared to the electric train. The advantage is that you can quickly move from one point of the city to another, but the disadvantage is that the 4 hours journey to the city itself is rather tiresome.
Veliky Novgorod greeted us with rain. It’s good that we took care of this in advance, and we had a sufficient number of umbrellas. We parked on the right bank of the Volkhov River, on the banks of which the city is located, directly opposite the Flagman frigate.
In the photo, besides the frigate itself, you can also see the sculpture that we first met – a monument to a tired tourist girl.
A little further on the same bank is the arcade of the Gostiny Dvor (the remains of the old Gostiny Dvor built in the late 17th century).
Speaking about the river, she divided Veliky Novgorod into 2 parts, the inhabitants of which often competed with each other. And the ancient city itself is located on this river on the basis of even more ancient settlements of people, which can be traced back to the Neolithic times (4-3 thousand years BC).
Further along the bridge across the river, we moved towards the Novgorod Kremlin (Novgorod Detinets) – a fortress, the first mention of which was back in 1044.
The fortress is located on the left bank of the river, is the oldest part of the city and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Entering it, the first thing that a visitor will see is stone paving stones and many trees.
Going a little deeper towards the center of the fortress, there is, perhaps, the monument that impressed me the most on this journey – the Millennium of Russia.
As the name implies, it was erected in 1862 in honor of the millennium anniversary of the founding of Russian statehood. Its height is 15.7 meters and it depicts a ball-orb on a bell-shaped pedestal and 128 figures of people from different spheres who played key roles in the history of Russia.
Opposite the monument is one of the oldest churches in Russia – the Cathedral of St. Sophia. It was built in the city back in 1050.
It is noteworthy that apple trees grow near the main entrance to the cathedral. Especially beautiful apples grow high, and on the lower branches there are practically none, as many tourists treat themselves to sweet apples, passing by them, picking them, as long as there is enough growth.
Inside the Kremlin, along all its walls, there is a path, following which you can see all of its ancient walls and towers.
Walking along this path, you can come across other antiquities, for example, old bells (Sofia belfry)…
Carved wooden and stone stairs – the entrances to the chambers …
Old and new wooden structures.
And also on the walls of the Novgorod Kremlin you can see the passages along which the soldiers who guarded the Kremlin used to move.
Here, inside the ancient walls, the building of the Novgorod State Museum-Reserve is located. The museum presents several exhibitions at once, telling guests about the history of the Novgorod land.
For example, here you can see a map of an ancient city.
Or a letter that is several hundred years old.
Also, one of the expositions in the museum is dedicated to Old Russian icon painting, it presents icons of the 11-17 centuries.
Several halls contain works by woodcarving craftsmen.
The memory of the new history of Veliky Novgorod during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) is also preserved here.
One of the halls collected many posters of those years…
And the other one, which I remember most of all, preserved artifacts and weapons belonging to Soviet and German soldiers who fought in the city.
Leaving the Novgorod Fortress, a tourist can go along the Sofiyskaya Embankment, walk along the river…
Or walk the streets of the city and watch how modern Novgorodians live.
Architecture of Veliky Novgorod
Speaking about the architecture of the city, as in other cities with a comparable population in Russia (224 thousand in 2020), Soviet-built houses with rare new high-rise buildings on the outskirts prevail.
However, we must pay tribute, sometimes in Veliky Novgorod, in addition to ancient art, you can also find modern, for example, large graffiti.
And the number of ancient churches in the city certainly exceeds their number in most Russian cities. In the photo below, the church of Boris and Gleb built in 1536.
We planned to finish our trip to Veliky Novgorod by visiting the monument to Alexander Nevsky, but it was closed for restoration. But this, at first glance, failure turned out well for us, and we were lucky to watch a beautiful sunset over the ancient city.