Veliky Novgorod is the capital of Novgorod region and one of the most ancient cities of Russia.History
Novgorod was first mentioned in the Russian chronicles in 859. First, there was a fortress. However, historians still debate over the exact date of it’s foundation. ‘Novgorod’ means a ‘new town’ in Russian. The fortress grew bigger, and in 1044 and 1045 the local Kremlin called Detinets and Saint Sophia Cathedral, presently the two main sights of Novgorod, were erected.
In 1019, Prince Yaroslav the Wise granted Novgorod independence from Kiev. Prior to that, the oldest son of the Great Prince of Kiev traditionally ruled in Novgorod. Starting from the XII century, Novgorod had different political order than other Russian towns. It was an independent feudal republic managed by a gathering of representatives of all parts of the town. It was the first and the only republic in Russia.
In ancient times, Novgorod was situated on the main trade crossroads of the Eastern Europe. The Volkhov River was a part of the great water route from Scandinavian countries to Byzantine and from the eastern countries to the Baltic. It was also one of the greatest international trade centers. Novgorod independence contributed greatly to the development culture and arts.
In 1478 Novgorod became a part of the Russian state ruled by Moscow. Medieval Novgorod was one of the greatest art centers of Europe. Its architectural traditions, icon-painting, jewelers and decorative applied art were famous all over the world. From 1611 till 1617 Novgorod was occupied by the Swedes. In 1727 it became a regional center. Novgorod suffered greatly in the battles of World War II. Being at the front line, the city was bombed and shelled. Novgorod was occupied in 1941 and liberated by Soviet troops in 1944. After the war, it was restored.In 1992 historical part of Novgorod was included in the List of World's Historical Heritage and in 1997 it received a European Council award.
Electrotechnical, chemical, woodworking and light industries are the main industries in Novgorod. Major factories are located outside of the city centre and far from historical sights.
Novgorod region is more open to the foreigners and international relations than the majority of Russian regions. As local government offers tax exemptions to the foreign companies, around 50% of overall output of the region is given by the companies with the foreign capital.
The main ways of transportation in Novgorod region are railway and motor transport. Trains depart from Veliky Novgorod to Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Pskov, Minsk and local towns and villages in Novgorod region. Buses depart to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tver and Riga daily. There are also several routes to the villages of the Novgorod region and many routes inside the town. There's also an airport in Veliky Novgorod, but the flights go not so often.
Novgorod has a unique complex of architectural monuments with frescoes dated XI-XVII centuries, manuscripts, chronicles, and icons. Novgorod Kremlin, a brick fortress with 9 towers, is called Detinets. Inside the Kremlin, there is Saint Sophia Cathedral, several museums and other sights.
Facet Chamber is located inside the Kremlin. In the XV century the Chamber served as an audience hall and Archbishop's courtroom and now it houses exhibition of ancient jewelry. It is a Gothic style building erected by German architects in 1443. Presently there is the Museum of Russian Arts and Crafts housing a collection of icons. In the Kremlin, there is also a bronze monument dedicated to the millennium of Russia. It was designed by Mikhail Mikeshin in 1862.
The museums of Novgorod include Historical Museum, Museum of Visual Arts, and Vitoslavlitsy Open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture. Vitoslavlitsy collections include pieces of ancient wooden architecture, peasant life, folk art and everyday life of Novgorodians. Museum of History and Art located in the Kremlin has collections of icons, wood crafts and manuscripts. Novgorod State United Museum houses a unique collection of historic, cultural and art artifacts.
Churches and monasteries are the major attraction of Veliky Novgorod. Nowadays 5 cathedrals act in Veliky Novgorod, the most ancient of which is Saint Sophia Cathedral, and many churches function as museums and are purely tourist places.
Saint Sofia Cathedral located inside the Kremlin was built in 1050. It is a symbol of the town and one of the oldest stone buildings in Russia. The height of the church exceeds 38 meters. An iron dove sits on it’s cross.
Trinity Church was built in the XIV century, and it’s upper part was completely rebuilt in the XIX century. Church of Nikolai Bely was erected in 1313. Church of Peter and Paul of brick and limestone was built in 1406. The five-dome Cathedral of Saint Nikolas was erected in 1113. Znamensky Cathedral was built in XVII century in traditional Moscow style. The XIV century frescoes of world-famous Theophanes the Greek can be seen in the church of the Transfiguration of Saviour on Iliah Street.
Some people consider Novgorod to be Russian Florence as no other Russian town has preserved so many ancient architectural monuments.