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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
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
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.