Description of the Veliky Novgorod Kremlin or Detinets
Veliky Novgorod Kremlin or Detinets ("little child"
in Russian) was constructed in the 11th century during reign of
Prince Vladimir Yaroslavich, son of Yaroslav the Wise. He also
ordered construction of the Holy Sophia Cathedral, the main church
in the city. It was erected in 1045- 52. According to local legends
the site for the new church was chosen by bishop of Novgorod, Ioakim
Korsunianin. Judging by his last name he was ethnically Byzantine
Greek who came from Korsun or
Chersonesus in Crimean
Peninsula (modern day Ukraine).
First military fortifications of Novgorod consisted
of a ditch, earthen embankments with wooden palisade on top. In the
early 14th century parts of defensive towers and walls of Detinets
were re- built in stone. Archbishop Vasily Kalika (1330- 52) further
increased walls of the city between 1331 and 1335. Part of stone
defensive wall collapsed into Volkhov River in 1437 and had to be
hastily reconstructed by Archbishop Evfimy II (1429- 58). However
new stone walls didn't protect Novgorod Republic from attack of the
Moscow Principality in 1478. Moscow troops under leadership of Grand Prince Ivan III
captured the city and put an end to the first democratic experiment
in a Russian history. Muscovite engineers reconstructed city walls
between 1484 and 1490.
Novgorod Kremlin has an oval shape with a total
perimeter of 1487 meters. Its length is measured 545 meters and 240
meters wide. Originally there were 12 towers. Today only 9 survives.
The tallest tower is Kokui Tower that was constructed in the
eighteenth century. It is easily recognizable by a silver dome that
covers it. It was added after German aviation bomb destroyed the
upper level of the structure. Some believe the name of the Kokui
tower is Baltic or German in origin and can roughly translated as
Looking Tower. During World War II German did just that. They used
Kokui Tower to keep an eye for partisan movement as well as regular
Red Army. Today it is open to
the public and contains binoculars available.