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10 largest cities of Russia
St. Petersburg
Nizhny Novgorod



Image of Novgorod




Location: Novgorod Oblast   Map







Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

Interesting information and useful tips



Description of Novgorod

Novgorod or literally "new city" dates back as early as the middle of the 9th century. Despite its relatively young age it became one of the largest and most successful cities in Medieval Russia. Due to its strategic location it became a key trading center and due to its seclusion it managed to avoid Mongol invasion of the 13th century that devastated much of Rus'. Functioning as a democracy Novgorod republic gathered "veche" or public assembly to discuss policies, hire or dismiss officials and etc. Unfortunately after loss of its independence to Moscow prince Ivan III and massacre of Ivan the Terrible Novgorod lost much of its importance. Only large churches and impressive walls tell of the time then Novgorod got its respectful greeting of "Lord Great Novgorod".



Travel Destinations in Novgorod

Novgorod Kremlin






Holy Sophia (Wisdom) Church

Holy Wisdom Bell Tower Church

Church of Andrew Stratelates Church


Millennium of Russia Church


History of Novgorod

Early developments

The Sofia First Chronicle makes initial mention of it in 859, while the Novgorod First Chronicle first mentions it in 862, when it was purportedly already a major Baltics to Byzantium station on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The Charter of Veliky Novgorod recognizes 859 as the year when the city was first mentioned. Novgorod is traditionally considered to be the cradle of Russian statehood.

Archaeological excavations in the middle to late 20th century, however, have found cultural layers dating back only to the late 10th century, the time of the Christianization of Rus' and a century after it was allegedly founded, suggesting that the chronicle entries mentioning Novgorod in the 850s or 860s are later interpolations. Archaeological dating is fairly easy and accurate to within 15–25 years, as the streets were paved with wood, and most of the houses made of wood, allowing tree ring dating.

The Varangian name of the city Holmgård or Holmgard (Holmgarðr or Holmgarðir) is mentioned in Norse Sagas as existing at a yet earlier stage, but the correlation of this reference with the actual city is uncertain. Originally, Holmgård referred to the stronghold, now only 2 km (1.2 miles) to the south of the center of the present-day city, Rurikovo Gorodische (named in comparatively modern times after the Varangian chieftain Rurik, who supposedly made it his "capital" around 860). Archaeological data suggests that the Gorodishche, the residence of the Knyaz (prince), dates from the mid-9th century, whereas the town itself dates only from the end of the 10th century; hence the name Novgorod, "new city", from Old Church Slavonic Новъ and Городъ (Nov and Gorod), although German and Scandinavian historiography suggests the Old Norse term Nýgarðr, or the Old High German term Naugard. First mention of this Nordic or Germanic etymology to the name of the city of Novgorod (and that of other cities within the territory of the then Kievan Rus') occurs in the 10th-century policy manual De Administrando Imperio by Byzantine emperor Constantine VII.

Slightly predating the chronology of the legend of Rurik (which dates the first Norse arrival in the region around 858–860), an earlier record for the Scandinavian settlement of the region is found in the Annales Bertiniani (written up until 882) where a Rus' delegation is mentioned as having visited Constantinople in 838 and, intending to return to the Rus' Khaganate via the Baltic Sea, were questioned by Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious at Ingelheim am Rhein, where they said that although their origin was Swedish, they had settled in Northern Rus' under a leader who they designated as chacanus (the Latin form of Khagan, a title they had likely borrowed from contact with the Avars).

Princely state within Kievan Rus'
In 882, Rurik's successor, Oleg of Novgorod, conquered Kiev and founded the state of Kievan Rus'. Novgorod's size as well as its political, economic, and cultural influence made it the second most important city in Kievan Rus'. According to a custom, the elder son and heir of the ruling Kievan monarch was sent to rule Novgorod even as a minor. When the ruling monarch had no such son, Novgorod was governed by posadniks, such as the legendary Gostomysl, Dobrynya, Konstantin, and Ostromir.

Of all their princes, Novgorodians most cherished the memory of Yaroslav the Wise, who sat as Prince of Novgorod from 1010 to 1019, while his father, Vladimir the Great, was a prince in Kiev. Yaroslav promulgated the first written code of laws (later incorporated into Russkaya Pravda) among the Eastern Slavs and is said to have granted the city a number of freedoms or privileges, which they often referred to in later centuries as precedents in their relations with other princes. His son, Vladimir, sponsored construction of the great St. Sophia Cathedral, more accurately translated as the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom, which stands to this day.


Early foreign ties

In Norse sagas the city is mentioned as the capital of Gardariki. Four Viking kings—Olaf I of Norway, Olaf II of Norway, Magnus I of Norway, and Harald Hardrada—sought refuge in Novgorod from enemies at home. No more than a few decades after the 1030 death and subsequent canonization of Olaf II of Norway, the city's community had erected in his memory Saint Olaf's Church in Novgorod.

The Gotland town of Visby functioned as the leading trading center in the Baltic before the Hansa League. At Novgorod in 1080, Visby merchants established a trading post which they named Gutagard (also known as Gotenhof). Later, in the first half of the 13th century, merchants from northern Germany also established their own trading station in Novgorod, known as Peterhof. At about the same time, in 1229, German merchants at Novgorod were granted certain privileges, which made their position more secure.

Novgorod Republic
In 1136, the Novgorodians dismissed their prince Vsevolod Mstislavich. The year is seen as the traditional beginning of the Novgorod Republic. The city was able to invite and dismiss a number of princes over the next two centuries, but the princely office was never abolished and powerful princes, such as Alexander Nevsky, could assert their will in the city regardless of what Novgorodians said. The city state controlled most of Europe's northeast, from lands east of today's Estonia to the Ural Mountains, making it one of the largest states in medieval Europe, although much of the territory north and east of Lakes Ladoga and Onega was sparsely populated and never organized politically.

One of the most important local figures in Novgorod was the posadnik, or mayor, an official elected by the public assembly (called the Veche) from among the city's boyars, or aristocracy. The tysyatsky, or "thousandman", originally the head of the town militia but later a commercial and judicial official, was also elected by the Veche. Another important local official was the Archbishop of Novgorod who shared power with the boyars. Archbishops were elected by the Veche or by the drawing of lots, and after their election, were sent to the metropolitan for consecration.

While a basic outline of the various officials and the Veche can be drawn up, the city-state's exact political constitution remains unknown. The boyars and the archbishop ruled the city together, although where one official's power ended and another begins is uncertain. The prince, although his power was reduced from around the middle of the 12th century, was represented by his namestnik, or lieutenant, and still played important roles as a military commander, legislator and jurist. The exact composition of the Veche, too, is uncertain, with some historians, such as Vasily Klyuchevsky, claiming it was democratic in nature, while later scholars, such as Marxists Valentin Ianin and Aleksandr Khoroshev, see it as a "sham democracy" controlled by the ruling elite.

In the 13th century, Novgorod, while not a member of the Hanseatic League, was the easternmost kontor, or entrepôt, of the league, being the source of enormous quantities of luxury (sable, ermine, fox, marmot) and non-luxury furs (squirrel pelts).

Throughout the Middle Ages, the city thrived culturally. A large number of birch bark letters have been unearthed in excavations, perhaps suggesting widespread literacy, although this is uncertain (some scholars suggest that a clerical or scribal elite wrote them on behalf of a largely illiterate populace). It was in Novgorod that the Novgorod Codex, the oldest Slavic book written north of Bulgaria, and the oldest inscription in a Finnic language (Birch bark letter no. 292) were unearthed. Some of the most ancient Russian chronicles (Novgorod First Chronicle) were written in the scriptorium of the archbishops who also promoted iconography and patronized church construction. The Novgorod merchant Sadko became a popular hero of Russian folklore.

Novgorod was never conquered by the Mongols during the Mongol invasion of Rus. The Mongol army turned back about 200 kilometers (120 mi) from the city, not because of the city's strength, but probably because the Mongol commanders did not want to get bogged down in the marshlands surrounding the city. However, the grand princes of Moscow, who acted as tax collectors for the khans of the Golden Horde, did collect tribute in Novgorod, most notably Yury Danilovich and his brother, Ivan Kalita.


In 1259, Hordes tax-collectors and census-takers arrived in the city, leading to political disturbances and forcing Alexander Nevsky to punish a number of town officials (he cut off their noses) for defying him as Grand Prince of Vladimir (soon to be the khan's tax-collector in Russia) and his Mongol overlords. In the 14th century, raids by Novgorod pirates, or ushkuiniki, sowed fear as far as Kazan and Astrakhan, assisting Novgorod in wars with the Grand Duchy of Moscow.

During the era of Old Rus' State, Novgorod was a trade hub at the northern end of both the Volga trade route and the "route from the Varangians to the Greeks" along the Dnieper river system. A vast array of goods were transported along these routes and exchanged with local Novgorod merchants and other traders. The farmers of Gotland retained the Saint Olof trading house well into the 12th century. Later German merchantmen also established trading houses in Novgorod. Scandinavian royalty would intermarry with Russian princes and princesses.

After the great schism, Novgorod struggled from the beginning of the 13th century against Swedish, Danish, and German crusaders. During the Swedish-Novgorodian Wars, the Swedes invaded lands where some of the population had earlier paid tribute to Novgorod. The Germans had been trying to conquer the Baltic region since the late 12th century. Novgorod went to war 26 times with Sweden and 11 times with the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. The German knights, along with Danish and Swedish feudal lords, launched a series of uncoordinated attacks in 1240–1242. Novgorodian sources mention that a Swedish army was defeated in the Battle of the Neva in 1240. The Baltic German campaigns ended in failure after the Battle on the Ice in 1242. After the foundation of the castle of Viborg in 1293 the Swedes gained a foothold in Karelia. On August 12, 1323, Sweden and Novgorod signed the Treaty of Nöteborg, regulating their border for the first time.

Expansion of Muscovy
The city's downfall occurred partially as a result of its inability to feed its large population, making it dependent on the Vladimir-Suzdal region for grain. The main cities in the area, Moscow and Tver, used this dependence to gain control over Novgorod. Eventually Ivan III forcibly annexed the city to the Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1478. The Veche was dissolved and a significant part of Novgorod's population was either killed or deported. The Hanseatic League kontor was closed in 1494 and the goods stored there were seized by Muscovite forces.

At the time of annexation, Novgorod became the third largest city under Muscovy (with 5,300 homesteads and 25–30 thousand inhabitants in the 1550s) and remained so until the famine of the 1560s and the Massacre of Novgorod in 1570. In the Massacre, Ivan the Terrible sacked the city, slaughtered thousands of its inhabitants, and deported the city's merchant elite and nobility to Moscow, Yaroslavl and elsewhere. The last decade of the 16th century was a comparatively favorable period for the city as Boris Godunov restored trade privileges and raised the status of Novgorod bishop. The German trading post was reestablished in 1603.

During the Time of Troubles, Novgorodians submitted to Swedish troops led by Jacob De la Gardie in the summer of 1611. The city was restituted to Muscovy, a brief six years later, by the Treaty of Stolbovo and only regained a measure of its former prosperity towards the end of the century, when such ambitious buildings as the Cathedral of the Sign and the Vyazhischi Monastery were constructed. The most famous of Muscovite patriarchs, Nikon, was active in Novgorod between 1648 and 1652. The Novgorod Land became one of the Old Believers' strongholds after the Schism.

In 1727, Novgorod was made the administrative center of Novgorod Governorate of the Russian Empire, which was detached from Saint Petersburg Governorate. This administrative division existed until 1927. Between 1927 and 1944, the city was a part of Leningrad Oblast, and then became the administrative center of the newly formed Novgorod Oblast.


Modern era

On August 15, 1941, during World War II, the city was occupied by the German Army. Its historic monuments were systematically obliterated. The Red Army liberated the city on January 19, 1944. Out of 2,536 stone buildings, fewer than forty remained standing. After the war, thanks to plans laid down by Alexey Shchusev, the central part was gradually restored. In 1992, the chief monuments of the city and the surrounding area were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list as the Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings. In 1999, the city was officially renamed Veliky Novgorod (literally, Great Novgorod), thus partly reverting to its medieval title "Lord Novgorod the Great". This reduced the temptation to confuse Veliky Novgorod with Nizhny Novgorod, a larger city the other side of Moscow which, between 1932 and 1990, had been renamed Gorky, in honor of Maxim Gorky.







Get in
By plane
Novgorod Airport (NVR IATA) is not operational. It was a busy airport during the time of the USSR.

By train
The Novgorod-Na-Volhove train station is located 1.5km west of the city center, the river, and the Detinets (Kremlin).

Russian Railways operates trains between the Novgorod-Na-Volhove train station and Saint Petersburg's Moskovskiy Vokzal station (3 hours, early morning and late evening, ~400 руб) as well as Moscow's Leningradskii Vokzal station (8 hours, overnight, 800+ руб). The trains to/from Saint Petersburg are all seated and can be uncomfortable, although there is a lot of leg room. The overnight trains to/from Moscow feature soft berths and compartments for an additional charge.

All trains and elektrichkas make a brief stop in Chudovo, where you can get out of the train and use a very unpleasantly dirty bathroom.

Left luggage services are available at the Novgorod-Na-Volhove train station.

By bus
The bus station in Novgorod is located across the street from the train station.

Several buses run daily from Saint Petersburg's Main Bus Terminal to Novgorod (several daily, 4 hours, ~200 руб). Buses to Moscow operate only during the summer, but the trip is long and inconvenient. Buses also operate to Tver, Pskov, Riga, and other cities in the Novgorod region.

Get around
By bus
Novgorod has both bus and trolleybus systems. Running approximately every 5 minutes, buses and trolleybuses will get you to every part of the city. Bus & trolleybus route maps and timetables are available online in Russian.

By foot
Novgorod is a walking-friendly city, and if you like long walks, everything in the city is within walking distance. The advantage is also that you have a chance to see the beautiful architecture of the city.

By bicycle
Bicycles are a perfect way to get around Novgorod. Bicycle and rollerblade rental are available at the "Shooting Club" on the Main Alley of the Kremlin Park. Phone: +7 921 731 74 32.

By taxi
Taxis are cheap and plentiful.


Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Yaroslav Hostel, Nikolskaja Street #4 (Just east of the river). Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 12PM. Bright colors! Dorm bed: 390-590 руб.

Hotel Acron, Ul. Predtechenskaya 24 (Next to the Volkhov Hotel but with a separate entrance), ☎ +7 8162 73-69-08, +7 8162 73-69-12, fax: +7 (8162) 73-69-18, e-mail: One of the less expensive decent options in the city center. Single: 1,600 руб; Double: 2,200 руб.
Intourist (Гостиница «Интурист»), ☎ +78162 77-42-36. Located in central part of a town (10 mins walk from Kremlin). All rooms are ensuite and have been recently renovated. Breakfast is not included in the price and costs 300 Rubles pp. There is a restaurant inside hotel. double 1800-2200 Rubles.
Sadko Hotel, Ul. Fedorovsky Ruchei (Across the river from the Kremlin, about a 30-40 minute walk from the train station), ☎ +7 8162 66-09-20, fax: +7 (8162) 60-30-17, e-mail: Mid-range, clean, renovated 3-star hotel with restaurant. Single: 2,000-2,100 руб; Double: 2,800-3,000 руб, including breakfast.
Volkhov Hotel, Ul. Predtechenskaya 24 (Between the train station and the Kremlin, about a 10-minute walk from each.), ☎ +7 8162 33-55-48, fax: +7 (8162) 33-55-51, e-mail: Check-in: 11:00, check-out: 12:00. Mid-range 3-star hotel Single: 2,150 руб; Double: 3,100 руб, including breakfast.

Beresta Palace, Ul. Studentechskaya 2 (North of the city center on the east side of the river,), ☎ +7 8162 94-09-10, e-mail: Novgorod's top class hotel, with the most amenities, a moderate distance from the city center. Singles: US$97; Doubles: US$109.


Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

1 "The central cooking", dining room ("Центральная кулинария", столовая), 2/13 Fedorovskiy Ruchey st., ☎ +7 816 2 69 32 33. 8.00 - 20.00. Dirty cheap place to eat. Self-service

Cafe Charodeyka, Ul. Volosova 1 (Corner of Sofiyskaya Square across from the Fine Arts Museum), ☎ +7 8162 730-879, e-mail: A comfortable, trendy cafe with excellent food and coffee, a short walk outside the Kremlin walls. For both salads and main courses, you choose your own ingredients and sauces from a list on the menu. English menu. Has a sidewalk cafe in the summer.
2 Derzhavnyy ("Державный", кафе-бар), 5/2 Gazon st. (opposite Kremlin), ☎ +7 816 2 90 58 78, +7 816 2 73 21 33. 12.00 - 23.00. Freaking good food, Russian cuisine. Although prepare to wait as they tend to cook it for quite long. Portions aren't particularly big, so grab few ones. mains 150-400 Rubles.
3 Fregat Flagman (Фрегат Флагман) (near the walking bridge over the river), ☎ +7 911 600 66 06, +7 816 2 606 606, e-mail: 12.00 - 23.00 (Mon - Fri); 12.00 - 06.00 (Sat, Sun). This is a real-size ship - restaurant with some great views over the Kremlin and surroundings
4 Ilmen (Ильмень), 2a Gazon st., ☎ +7 816 2 77 70 60, +7 816 2 77 71 92. 12.00 - 24.00. Some OK food, small portions. They serve quite fast. mains 300 Rubles.

Honey mead is a local favorite.


Cultural (and not so cultural) events

1 Novgorod Drama Theater (Новгородский академический театр драмы имени Ф.М. Достоевского), 14 Velikaya st., ☎ +7 816 2 77 34 45, +7 816 2 77 74 92, e-mail:
2 Novgorod Philharmony (Новгородская Областная Филармония), ☎ +7 (816 2) 77 37 48, +7 (816 2) 77 37 34, +7 (816 2) 77 27 77 (booking office), e-mail:

DinoLand Family Entertainment Centre.

Christmas fortune-telling, Vitoslavlitsy.
3 King Festival («Малый», новгородский театр для детей и молодежи), 32А Mira bul., ☎ +7 816 2 65 54 53, fax: +7 (8162) 65 54 53, e-mail: Mid-April. They sometimes hold performances in English
International Bell Ringing Festival, Vitoslavlitsy.
International Music Festival and the International Young Pianists Contest. April-May
Ivan Kupala Day (pagan holiday merged with the Christian holiday of Birth of Saint John the Baptist), Ilmen-lake.
Summer festival "Sadko" (Садко). You can see real old-Russian folklore. "Sadko" based on Russian medieval epic Bylina. Adventurer, merchant and Musician from Novgorod. Also the main character from a Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov opera.

4 Novgorod Cinema ("Новгород", кинотеатр), 9 Lomonosova st., ☎ +7 816 2 62 62 43, e-mail:
5 Russia Cinema ("Россия", киноцентр), 66 Chernyakhovskogo st, ☎ +7 (816 2) 77 73 36 (booking office), +7 (816 2) 77 42 55 (automatic teller machine), e-mail:


Interesting information and useful tips

Souvenirs, particularly wooden handicrafts and birch-bark paintings, can be found at many locations, including the souvenir market on Sennaya Square (to one's right as one faces the Kremlin from Sofiyskaya Square and the Lenin Statue).




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