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Pskov

 


PSKOV
 

 



Pskov is an ancient city located in the north-west of Russia about 20 kilometers (12 mi) east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River.
The name of the city, originally spelled "Pleskov", may be loosely translated as "[the town] of purling waters". Its earliest mention comes in 903, which records that Igor of Kiev married a local lady, St. Olga. Pskovians sometimes take this year as the city's foundation date, and in 2003 a great jubilee took place to celebrate Pskov's 1,100th anniversary.
The first prince of Pskov was St. Vladimir's younger son Sudislav. Once imprisoned by his brother Yaroslav, he wasn't released until the latter's death several decades later. In the 12th century and 13th centuries, the town adhered politically to the Novgorod Republic. In 1241, it was taken by the Teutonic knights, but Alexander Nevsky recaptured it several months later during a legendary campaign dramatized in Sergei Eisenstein's 1938 movie.

In order to secure their independence from the knights, the Pskovians elected a Lithuanian prince, named Daumantas, a Roman Catholic converted to Orthodox faith and known in Russia as Dovmont, as their military leader and prince in 1266. Having fortified the town, Daumantas routed the Teutonic knights at Rakvere and overran much of Estonia. His remains and sword are preserved in the local kremlin, and the core of the citadel, erected by him, still bears the name of "Dovmont's town".
Pskov still preserves much of its medieval walls, built from the 13th century on. The Krom, or medieval citadel, looks as impressive as ever. Within its walls rises the 256-foot-tall Trinity Cathedral, founded in 1138 and rebuilt in the 1690s. The cathedral contains the tombs of saint princes Vsevolod (died in 1138) and Dovmont (died in 1299). Other ancient cathedrals adorn the Mirozhsky monastery (completed by 1152), famous for its 12th-century frescoes, St. John's (completed by 1243), and the Snetogorsky monastery (built in 1310 and stucco-painted in 1313). Pskov is exceedingly rich in tiny, squat, picturesque churches, dating mainly from the 15th and the 16th centuries.

There are many dozens of them, the most notable being St. Basil's on the Hill (1413), St. Kozma and Demian's near the Bridge (1463), St. George's from the Downhill (1494), Assumption from the Ferryside (1444, 1521), and St. Nicholas' from Usokha (1536). The 17th-century residential architecture is represented by merchant mansions, such as the Salt House, the Pogankin chambers, and the Trubinsky mansion.
A Russian coin commemorating Pskov's 1,100th anniversaryAmong the sights in the vicinity of Pskov are Izborsk, a seat of Rurik's brother in the 9th century and one of the most formidable fortresses of medieval Russia; the Pskov Monastery of the Caves, the oldest continually functioning monastery in Russia and a magnet for pilgrims from all over the country; the 16th-century Krypetsky Monastery; Elizarovo Monastery, which used to be a great cultural and literary centre of medieval Russia; and Mikhailovskoe, a family nest of Alexander Pushkin where he wrote some of the best known lines in the Russian language. The national poet of Russia is buried in the ancient cloister at the Holy Mountains nearby. Unfortunately, the area presently has only a very minimal tourist infrastructure, and the historic core of Pskov requires serious investments to realize its great tourist potential.