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NOVGOROD VELIKII

John Sloan
Micha Jelisavcic

Novgorod, (population 230,000 in 1990, 27,000 in 1914) the "new city", was founded in 859 A. D. on the Volkov River on the site of an older fortification. It was an ancient town, predating even the Varangian invasion in the 9th century. In the Xth Century, when the fortification was still rather small, Novgorod was besieged by the Polovtsi troops.
It was then the most important commercial and trade center on the route from Scandinavia to the Orient and only had to share its economic power with Kiev after the Varangians captured Kiev and made it their center (1000 - 1150). The town established many colonies along the Russian rivers and lakes and displayed its importance with its official title of Novgorod the Great. Among these were Staraia Rusa, Ladoga, Kopor'ye, Torzhok, Korela, and Oreshek. In the middle 1100's Novgorod achieved independence from Kiev and continued its territorial expansion to the northeast as far as the White Sea and the Ural Mountains. The local economy was based on agriculture, hunting, fishing, and extraction of the valuable products of its northern domains. These products were traded with the Hansiatic League towns along the Baltic. In addition Novgorod continued to be a major entrepot for east-west trade. It was the target of the Livonian knights in 1242, when they were stopped by Alexander Nevski. It was the subject of repeated wars between rival Rus princes. It suffered from outside invasion for a second time in 1611, when it was overrun by Swedish forces. A traitor opened the city gate. In 1941 the German troops seized and held Novgorod until 1944. During these three occupations the city suffered terribly.
Novgorod had a unique form of government as a feudal republic. The city assembly (veche) was composed of all freemen of the rural as well as urban areas, but political power was in the hands of the aristocracy of merchants and landlords. The citizens elected the Prince of Novgorod whose principal function was commander of the army. In 1166 the initial fortifications were expanded considerably and reinforced by an earthen and wood rampart. In 1302 five wooden towers were built. In 1420 the construction of the stone Kremlin (in Russian the word Kremlin means a fortified stronghold) was completed. The Novgorodians would call their kremlin "Dotioots". .
At that time the Novgorod republic controlled a vast territory from the Chudsky Lake in the southern Baltic region reaching to the coast of the Arctic Ocean and built a cluster of fortresses in that area. The city itself was defended by "The Ololny Gorod" that was an earthen rampart with a wooden palisade and stone towers. The rampart itself, part of the moat in front of it and one of the stone towers have been preserved. The rampart is 11 km long. In the points of entry and exit of the river into and out of the city the defenses were reinforced by walls of major monasteries.
Novgorod faced a major military threat from the west and northwest when the Swedes began expansion through Finland and the German Livonian Order seized the Baltic coast (parts of modern Latvia and Lithuania). Between the middle 12th and middle 15th centuries Novgorod was at war with Sweden 26 times and against the Livonian Order 11 times. Novgorod escaped the direct assault of the Mongols in the 1240's but was forced to accept Mongol overlords and pay tribute in taxes and troops. The Swedes and Germans attempted to take advantage of this immediately, but were defeated by Prince Alexander at the Neva River and Lake Chud respectively. In the 14th century Novgorod struggled against both Tver and Moscow and used their rivalry as a means for preserving itself. With the increase in power of Lithuania Novgorod turned in that direction for assistance against its Russian neighbors. To the Muscovite grand princes this made Novgorod a threat to their goal of reuniting all the Rus lands. Novgorod's efforts reached a head in 1470 when the boyars invited Prince Mikhail Olel'kovich of Lithuania to be their prince and began negotiations toward closer union with King Casimir, but this was not a popular goal for many of the lower classes. Ivan III knew well how to exploit the internal contradictions within Novgorodian society. He promptly invaded Novgordian territories and defeated their militia at the Shelon River in 1471 and subsequently. By using a careful policy of internal subversion, he annexed the area in 1478. It remained for Ivan IV to obliterate Novgorodian society and deport the population a hundred years later (1570). The Swedes again attacked in 1627. The medieval population fell from 400,000 to only 2,000 by the 17th century.
After Novgorod was forcibly incorporated into the Moscow principality, the new Muscovite administration kept reinforcing fortresses and building new ones. The Novgorod kremlin was reconstructed, modelled on its Muscovite namesake. At first 13 towers were built, but only nine survive. Some are round and some square. They date from 1303 and 1490 with restorations in 1698 and 1862. The shape of the merlons was changed as was the shape of the embrasures. The stone walls were faced in brick. At the end of the XVII century under the order of Peter the Great the height of one of the towers was raised to 32 meters.
The kremlin remains the center of Novgorod to this day. It features the chief Cathedral of St. Sofia, dating from the time of Yaroslavl I, 1045-1052, but restored between 1893 and 1900 and again repaired after World War II.
During its greatest prosperity in the Middle Ages Novgorod had over 230 churches. Now about 40 remain. Many of them are worth a visit as architectural and artistic landmarks. Within the kremlin in addition to the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom (St Sophia) built by Vladimir,(1045-50) after the wooden church burned; there are the Church of St Sergius and Church of Andrei Stratilat and Church of the Intercession. The belfry of the 15th century was restored in the 19th. There are also a historical museum (1863) and the Granovita palace (chamver of facets) from 1433. The Millinnarian monument designed by Mikyeskin in 1862 depicts the Imperial orb with statues of Rurik, St Vladimir, Ivan III, Dmitri Donskoi, Peter I and Mikhail Romanov symbolic of the different eras of Russian history.
Medieval Novgorod was on both sides of the Volkov, the Sophia side with kremlin and the merchant's side or Yaroslav Dvor (palace) side mentioned from 1113. Now the churches are in a kind of park and include St Nicholas Cathedral (1113), Church of St Michael (1300 rebuilt in 1454), Church of Apostle Philip (1383-4 rebuilt in 1526), Church of St Peter and Paul (1367 restored now) Church of St Elijah Ilyinski (1198-1202 rebuilt) Uspenski (Assumption ) church (1362 rebuilt 1466), Church of St Prokopi (1529) Church of Myrrh-bearing women (1570), Transfiguration Church (1374), Znameenski Cathedral (1682-88), Assumption Church (1135-44), Church of Dmitri Solunski (1381-2) Church of St Clement (1386), Church of Nikita the Martyr (1557), Church of Fedor Stratilat (1360-61), Nativity Church (1381-2), Church of St Ioan (1127-30 rebuilt 1453), Church of St George (13th cent), Church of St John the Divine (1536), and the Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral in the Antoniev Monastery (1117-19). For discussion of art and architecture of medieval Novgorod please see Novgorod and following sections.
There are churches worth visiting in the main part of Novgorod including; Annunciation Church (12th century), Church of Saints Peter and Paul (1185), Church of Feodor Stratilata (1292-94), Trinity Church (1365, rebuilt) Church of St Ioan (1421), Church of St Peter and Paul (1406), Church of the Intercession (1339), Church of St Simon (1467), and Trinity Church (1557) of the former Holy Spirit Monastery.
South of Novgorod on the river is the Yuriev Monastery, see George) a place the visitor must visit. Here is the Georgievski (St George) Cathedral begun in 1119 by Prince Vsevolod. In the monastery also is the lovely Church of the Elevation of the Cross (1828).
Here we have some photos taken during visits.

 

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Entrance to the kremlin across a dry moat.

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Diagram of the kremlin on board near entrance

 
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Another diagram of the kremlin

 
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The section of the restored kremlin wall on the south west side to the right as one enters the grounds.

 
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One of the Novgorod kremlin towers under repair.

 
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Section of kremlin wall from inside the kremlin.

 
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Section of wall being repaired.

 
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Section of the Novgorod kremlin wall along the Volkov on the south east end of the old town. The WWWII victory monument is between it and the river.

 
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Section of the kremlin wall along the river

 
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Another section of the kremlin wall with tower.

 
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Section of the wall and tower just to the right of the entrance gate - the south east side of the kremlin.

 
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The tower in the southwest wall

 
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The tower in the southwest wall

 
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Reeconstruction of cover over the parapet of a curtain wall.

 
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The millennium monument

 
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Section from the millennium monument

 
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St Sophia (Holy Wisdom) Cathedral completed in 1050. The famous Magdeburg doors are cast bronze works of world-class art. See extensive historical discussion at Sophia.

 
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St Sophia (Holy Wisdom) Cathedral completed in 1050.

 
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Bells in front of the belfry in the kremlin

 
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Belfry

 
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Belfry

 
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Inside of the kremlin wall

 
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Tower in Yuriev monastery outside Novgorod.

 
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Church of the Intercession with the Pokrovski tower behind it.

 
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Church of the Intercession against the kremlin wall.

 
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The upper part of the bell tower appears above the kremlin wall in this picture taken just outside the wall by the bank of the Volkov.

 
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This set of arches is all that remains of the merchant stall section in the trader's quarter across the Volkov from the Novgorod kremlin. The standard design was created during the reign of Catherine II and applied to many towns in Russia. Behind it some of the many churches in this part of town now like an architectural park are visible. The area was built up with wooden edifices and streets paved with split logs. The tall tower with scafolding is the Veche tower.

 
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The long white building with two arches was a merchant arcade. The tall tower above it with scafold is the 'veche' tower in which the city veche met. The white bell tower was built in the 17th century;. To the left rear is the Church of the Myrrh bearing women.

 
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On the left the Church of the Myrrh Bearing Women (1510) and in the center at17th century bell tower at the end of the merchant's arcade.

 
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One of the oldest churches in Novgorod is the Church of the Assumption (Uspenski) founded in 1135-44 by Vsyevolod before he was forced out of Novgorod, It was restored in the 15th century

 
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Church of St Paraskeva Pyatnitsa founded in 1207 by a Novgorodian merchant guild. It was rebuilt in 1345. It is in the Yaroslav court. The tower on the right is believed to be the veche tower.

 
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Church of St Ioan (1127 rebuilt 1453)

 
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Church of St Ioan built in 1127-30 and rebuilt in 1453. This is in the church complex on the merchant side (Yaroslav's court) across the Volkov from the kremlin.

 
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Church of the Myrrh bearing women - Zhon Mironosets - 1510. also across the Volkov in the Yaroslav court section

 
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The Church of the Myrrh- Bearing -Women - (1508-1510) It was built at the expense of Moscow Merchant, Ivan Syrkov. In comparison with St Procopius built by his son, Dmitri, it is archaic masive in construction and the moret elaborate. It has four supporting pillars surrounded by a gallery. The north gallery has pentagonal niches added in the 16th century.

 
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Church of the Transfiguration - Spasopreobrazhenski - 1374 with 14th century frescoes attributed to Theophanes the Greek.

 
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Cathedral of the Apparation of the Cross

 
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Yuriev Monastery - Cathedral of St George. This was founded in 1119 by Prince Vsyevolod and is a marvel next only to St Sophia in the kremlin.

 
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Yuriev Monastery - Church of the Elevation of the Cross - 1828.

 
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Yuriev Monastery

 
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Aerial view of the Yur'yev Monastery south of Novgorod on the bank of the Volkov River. The bell tower was built in 1842 by Karl Rossii.

 
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Cathedral of St George in the Yuriev Monastery outside Novgorod was dedicated in 1119.

 
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Raising water the old fashioned way outside Novgorod.

 

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