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Package tours >>> Veliky Novgorod

 


VELIKY NOVGOROD
 

 



Veliky Novgorod is one of Russia's most historic cities and the administrative centre of Novgorod Oblast. It is situated on the M10 federal highway connecting Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Translated from Russian, its name means roughly "The Great New City". The city lies along the Volkhov River just below its outflow from Lake Ilmen.
No other Russian or Ukrainian city can compete with Novgorod in the variety and age of its medieval monuments. The foremost among these is the St Sophia Cathedral, built between 1045 and 1050 under the patronage of Vladimir Yaroslavich, the son of Yaroslav the Wise (Vladimir is buried in the cathedral along with his mother, Anna.). It is the best preserved of 11th century churches, probably the oldest structure still in use in Russia and the first one to represent original features of Russian architecture (austere stone walls, five helmet-like cupolas). Its frescoes were painted in the 12th century originally on the orders of Bishop Nikita (died 1108) (the "porches" or side chapels were painted in 1144 under Archbishop Nifont) and renovated several times over the centuries, most recently in the nineteenth century.

The cathedral features famous bronze gates, which now hang in the west entrance, allegedly made in Magdeburg in 1156 and reportedly snatched by Novgorodians from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. More recent scholarship has determined that the gates probably were purchased in the mid-fifteenth century, apparently at the behest of Archbishop Evfimii II (14291458), a lover of Western art and architectural styles.
The Novgorod Kremlin, traditionally known as the Detinets, also contains the oldest palace in Russia (the so-called Chamber of the Facets, 1433), which served as the main meeting hall of the archbishops; the oldest Russian bell tower (mid-15th cent.), and the oldest Russian clock tower (1673). The Palace of Facets, the bell tower, and the clock tower were originally built on the orders of Archbishop Evfimii II, although the clock tower collapsed in the seventeenth century and had to be rebuilt and much of the palace of Evfimii II is no longer extant. Among later structures, the most remarkable are a royal palace (1771) and a bronze monument to the Millennium of Russia, representing the most important figures from the country's history (unveiled in 1862).
St Nicholas Cathedral, built by Mstislav I near his palace at Yaroslav's Court, Novgorod, contains 12th-century frescoes depicting his illustrious family.Outside the kremlin walls, there are three large churches constructed during the reign of Mstislav the Great. St Nicholas Cathedral (111323), containing frescoes of Mstislav's family, graces Yaroslav's Court (formerly the chief square of Novgorod). The Yuriev Monastery (one of the oldest in Russia, 1030) contains a tall, three-domed cathedral from 1119 (built by Mstislav's son, Vsevolod. and Kyurik, the head of the monastery. A similar three-domed cathedral (1117), probably designed by the same masters, stands in the Antoniev Monastery, built on the orders of Antonii, the founder of that monstery.
There are now some fifty still-extant medieval and early modern churches scattered throughout the city and its environs. Some of them were blown up by the Nazis and subsequently restored. The most ancient pattern is represented by those dedicated to Sts Peter and Pavel (on the Swallow's Hill, 118592), to Annunciation (in Myachino, 1179), to Assumption (on Volotovo Field, 1180s) and to St Paraskeva-Piatnitsa (at Yaroslav's Court, 1207). The greatest masterpiece of early Novgorod architecture is the Saviour church at Nereditsa (1198).
In the 13th century, tiny churches of the three-paddled design were in vogue. These are represented by a small chapel at the Peryn Monastery (1230s) and St Nicholas' on the Lipnya Islet (1292, also notable for its 14th-century frescoes). The next century saw development of two original church designs, one of them culminating in St Theodor's church (136061, fine frescoes from 1380s), and another one leading to the Saviour church on Ilyina street (1374, painted in 1378 by Feofan Grek). The Saviour' church in Kovalevo (1345) was originally frescoed by Serbian masters, but the church was destroyed during the war. While the church has since been rebuilt, the frescoes have not been restored.
During the last century of republican government, some new churches were consecrated to Sts Peter and Paul (on Slavna, 1367; in Kozhevniki, 1406), to Christ's Nativity (at the Cemetery, 1387), to St John the Apostle's (1384), to the Twelve Apostles (1455), to St Demetrius (1467), to St Simeon (1462), and other saints. Generally, they are not thought so innovative as the churches from the previous epoch. Several 12th-century shrines (i.e., in Opoki) were demolished brick by brick and then reconstructed exactly as they used to be, several of them in the mid fifteenth century, again under Archbishop Evfimii II, perhaps one of the greatest patrons of architecture in medieval Novgorod.
Novgorod's conquest by Ivan III in 1478 decisively changed the character of local architecture. Large commissions were thenceforth executed by Muscovite masters and patterned after cathedrals of Moscow Kremlin: e.g., the Saviour Cathedral of Khutyn Monastery (1515), the Cathedral of the Mother of God of the Sign (1688), the St. Nicholas Cathedral of Vyaschizhy Monastery (1685). Nevertheless, the styles of some parochial churches were still in keeping with local traditions: e.g., the churches of Myrrh-bearing Women(1510) and of Sts Boris and Gleb (1586).
In Vitoslavlitsy, along the Volkhov River and the Myachino Lake, close to the Yuriev Monastery, a picturesque museum of wooden architecture was established in 1964. Over 20 wooden buildings (churches, houses and mills) dating from the 14th to the 19th century were transported there from all around the Novgorod region.