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Staraya Ladoga is a village in the Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Volkhov River near Lake Ladoga, 8 km north of the town of Volkhov. The village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries. A multi-ethnic settlement, it was dominated by Scandinavians who were called by the name of Rus and for that reason is sometimes called the first capital of Russia.
Dendrochronology suggests that Ladoga was founded in 753. Until 950, it was one of the most important trading ports of Eastern Europe. Merchant vessels sailed from the Baltic Sea through Ladoga to Novgorod and then to Constantinople or the Caspian Sea. This route is known as the Trade Route from the Varangians to the Greeks. An alternative way led down the Volga River along the Volga trade route to the Khazar capital of Atil, and then to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, all the way to Baghdad. Tellingly, the oldest Arabian Middle Age coin in Europe was unearthed in Ladoga.


Ladoga's next mention in chronicles is dated to 1019, when Ingigerd of Sweden married Yaroslav of Novgorod. Under the terms of their marriage settlement, Yaroslav ceded Ladoga to his wife, who appointed her father's cousin, the Swedish earl Ragnvald Ulfsson, to rule the town. This information is confirmed by sagas and archaeological evidence, which suggests that Ladoga gradually evolved into a primarily Varangian settlement. At least two Swedish kings spent their youths in Ladoga, king Stenkil and Inge I, and possibly also king Anund Gårdske.  
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Ladoga functioned as a trade outpost of the powerful Novgorod Republic. Later its trade significance declined and most of the population engaged in fishing in 15th century. After new fortresses such as Oreshek and Korela were constructed in 14th century further to the west of Ladoga the town's military significance also decreased. Ladoga belonged to the Vodskaya pyatina of the republic and contained 84 homesteads in 15th century; most of the land belonged to the church. The Novgorodians built there a citadel with five towers and several churches. The fortress was rebuilt at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, while the mid-12th-century churches of St. George and of Mary's Assumption stand in all their original glory. Inside St. George's, some magnificent 12th-century frescoes are still visible.