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Rostov History

Early history of Rostov traditionally begins with appearance of Sarskoye Gorodishche or Citadel of Sara. It is  modern name reflecting that the village was established on the banks of Sara river that flows into Nero Lake.






Today it is situated south of Medieval Rostov Kremlin. First inhabitants of these lands were Merya tribe. This group of indigenous inhabitants of Eastern part of European Russia belonged to Volga Finn groups of native population and eventually mixed with Slavs forming modern ethnicity known as Russians. Merya settlement was a diverse community. Archaeological digs in the area proved that Vikings used Sara as one of the most important site for trading route between Northern Europe (and Scandinavia) and Middle East.


Russian historic records indicate that in 862 AD when Rurik was invited to rule over Slavic tribes, Rostov was already an important town. In 1207 Rostov became the capital city of independent Russian state. Under leadership of Constantine Vsevolodovich (1214- 1231) Rostov became one of the most powerful principalities of medieval Rus. Unlike other Russian cities Rostov didn't provide any resistance of Mongol- Tatar forces during their invasion in 1230's, however its residents started a rebellion against Tatar yolk in 1262 as a protest against high taxes. Rebellion was quickly defeated and the city plundered by the Mongol armies. During Battle of Kulikovo with the Tatars armies from Rostov joined a coalition of Russian princes against a common enemy. This time they were victorious and wiped out much of the enemy army.


Rostov however remained a town on frontiers of the Russian principalities. It was again besieged and captured by enemy troops under leadership of Tatar ruler Edigu in 1408. Rostov was reconstructed and grew in size. Moscow Principality started to take Rostov lands in the late 14th century through marriage or simply by buying it. Eventually in 1474 the whole state became part of Muscovy Principality. During Time of Trouble after death of the last tsar from the Rurik dynasty, Rostov was captured by the armies of the Polish armies.


Rostov was an important site of religious site in a life of a Russian Orthodox Church. In the 14th century its spiritual leaders gained a status of archbishops and in 1589 they became known as Metropolitans. In the 18th century metropolitan title of Rostov Veliky or Rostov the Great was transferred to Yaroslavl. However Rostov still remained an important trading town in the region.