They call Novgorod the city-museum of the ancient Russia. Here, unlike in other regions, many remarkable monuments of architecture and monumental painting of XI-XVII centuries were preserved. Hundreds of books and thousands of special articles are dedicated to the history of the city and to its artistic sights. Russian historians, archaeologists, restoration architects, art critics work restlessly at the study, disclosure and restoration of the ancient Novgorod monuments. Their efforts crowned by interesting findings and discoveries.
Under big soil layers, which were accumulated during more than millennial history of the city, the ancient narrow streets of Novgorod with the bridge, the remainders of wooden habitable and economic buildings were discovered. In the cultural layers of the ancient city the numerous certificates, written on the white part of birch bark, are found. This entire material has enormous value for studying of political system, social and economic relations of the ancient Russia culture.
Many examples of the early peasantry period monumental painting in Russia were preserved in Novgorod. In the territory of the region 4,8 thousand monuments of history and culture are located. The global significance of some of them is confirmed by the reports of UNESCO. Many cities and villages of the region were the ancient centers of primitive trades: Borovichi - woodworks, pottery and leather dressing, Valday was famous by the production of bells, Utorgosh - by production of wooden toys, Staroe Rakhino and Kresttsy - the centers of embroidering trade - Krestetskaya white line. The names of outstanding writers and poets (G. R. Derzhavin, N. A. Nekrasov, F. M. Dostoyevsky), composers (S. V. Rakhmaninoff), famous general A. V. Suvorov, well-known traveler N. Miklukho-Maklay, are tightly connected with the Novgorodskaya land.
Novgorodskaya region is one of the earliest historical cultural territories in the north-west of Russia. It occupies a special place in Russian history. This is concerned with the fact that precisely in Novgorod a number of important for Russia events occured: the formation of princely residence by the Volkhov river springs in IX century on the way "from Varangian to Greeks", which became the starting point of Old-Russian statehood.
For centuries Novgorod served as a shield protecting Russian lands from the West. Advantageous geographical location at the intersection of important waterways contributed to the development of trade and crafts, Novgorod masters' goods were in popular demand in European countries.
Novgorodskaya region has preserved a large amount of historical and cultural monuments, monuments of pre-Mongol period, the masterpieces of medieval civilization. Historians credit it with the fact that the city was located far, in inaccessible for the Tatar- Mongolian hordes forests and swamps. There are 4631 monuments of history and culture in the region. Thousands of tourists from various countries visit Novgorodskaya region, and they are enraptured by uniqueness of Novgorod monuments. The monuments, included into the list of the world heritage, are the most ancient and valuable: the architectural ensembles of Antoniev Mastery of XII-XIX century,Novgorod Kremlin XI-XIX century, Yuriev Monastery XII-XIX century, Yaroslavov Dvorishche XII-XVII century; in total 37 ensembles and monuments in Sofyskaya and commercial sides of the Great Novgorod.
Historical cities of the region, which have interesting architectural monuments: Great Novgorod, Borovichi, Valday, Malaya Vishera, Soltsy, Staraya Russa, Kholm, Chudovo. The following settlements have preserved their historical appearance until nowadays: Demyansk, Volok, Kresttsy, Kulotino, Konchansko- Suvorovskoe, Lyubytino, Medved, Moshenskoye, Opechensky Posad, Peredki, Yazhelbitsy.
The list of the most significant objects of cultural heritage includes: the museum of the wooden architecture Vitoslavlitsy; Iversky Monastery in Valdai district; travelling palaces in Korostyn villages of Shimskoy district, villages Yedrovo and Yazhelbitsy of Valdai district; the museum-home of F.M. Dostoyevsky in Staraya Russia; museum-home of N.A.Nekrasov and G.I.Uspenskogo in Chudovo, the estate of A.V.Suvorov into the Konchansko-Suvorovskoe village of Borovichsky district and many others.
In 2009 Great Novgorod will celebreate its 1150 anniversary from the day of the first annalistic reference.
Valday Bell Museum
The Bell Museum was founded in 1995 in the building of the Great Martyr St. Catherine Church. The building was designed by a well-known architect Lvov. The Lvov’s Rotunda built in 1793 was part of Catherine’s Travel Palace where she stopped on her way from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Services were held here quite rarely.
The collection of the museum features rare samples of bells cast by Russian masters T. Andreev and P. Grigoriev in 1536, German and Swedish trophy bells of the 17th century, Valday coachman's bells of the 19th century, samples of 20th century bells used in churches, railroads, vessels, as well as tiny cow bells and door bells.
Many of the exhibits can be not only seen but heard as well. Three belfries have been installed in the museum's hall for this purpose. These belfries make it possible to hold spontaneous concerts, as any of the visitors can try the sounds of the bells he liked best.
Millennium of Russia monument
The history of the monument started with a contest and collection. M.O. Mikeshin, a 25-year old sculptor, won the contest and later became a famous monumentalist and author of several monuments in Russian towns.
150 thousand were collected. 450 thousand more were taken from imperial treasury. However, a project of the monument sparked off many arguments. Famous historians and writes argued with each other, the tsar was against depictions of various outstanding people: Gogol, Shevchenko, Dmitrievsky, Ushakov, Boronikhin, Zakharova and so on. The tsar and the churchmen thought that the tsars and the churchmen had to stay in memory. Alexander II with the family and mane noble representatives attended the opening of the monument on the 8th of September in 1862. Several thousands of soldiers took part in a parade. The monument resembles a famous hat of Monomakh. However, some historians think that the monument projects a shape of a bell which was supposed, according to the idea of the author, tell the descendants about Russia’s heroic past.
The monument is 15,7 meters high. Its granite base is 9 meters in diameter. The length of relief border is 27 meters. 129 figures of outstanding people are depicted. The bronze parts of the monument were produced in St.Petersburg. The granite was brought from Ladoga stone mines. A huge ball, a symbol of tsar’s power, is out in a big base. The ball is covered in ornaments of crosses, symbols of church and monarchy unity. A figure of an angel handling a cross is put on the base. A figure of a kneeler woman imaging Russia stands in front of him. Statuaries around the ball represent six main stages of Russian history, according to the periodization of noble and middle-class history. There is a statuary “Establishment of Russian state” among them. Vladimir, the prince of Kiev, a woman with a child near him, a Slavic who cast down a vanity are depicted in statuary “Establishment of Christianity”. Dmitry Donskoy treating a Tatar depicts Russia’s liberation from the Tatar yoke. The fourth statuary is represented by Ivan III, prostrated Lithuanian and German with a broken sword lie near him. There is depicted a Siberian man as a symbol of Siberia joining Russia. The latter symbolizes monarchy. Pozharsky prince protects Mikhail Romanov, the parent of the dynasty, in the fifth statuary. The sixth statuary is Peter the Great, an angel with wings and prostrated Swede, what symbolizes “Establishment of Russian Empire”.
There are depicted 109 faces united in 4 groups: “Enlighteners of the people”, “People of state”, “People of war and heroes”, “Writers and artists”. The fascists took the monument into pieces during the Great Patriotic War, but they failed to take out of the city.