Veliky Novgorod – Free City
Veliky Novgorod is one of the oldest Russian cities. It was founded (or rather, was first mentioned in chronicles) in 859. The city is located at the Volkhov River and Lake Ilmen. In the middle of the IX century and in the late XV it played the major role in Russian history, in the formation of the Orthodox culture, and the first experiments in democratic reform.
Rurik, who started the first ruling dynasty of Russia, became the head of Novgorod. Veliky Novgorod was the first capital of the Russian state. However, it was the capital for a short period, the administration quickly moved to Kiev. But for centuries Novgorod was the trade center, located on the famous route “from the Varangians to the Greeks”. It was even invited to the Hanseatic League – a powerful and influential European Trade Organization.
Veliky Novgorod could be considered the first democratic state in Europe.
There are 77 restored and renovated churches, masterpieces of X-XV centuries.
The oldest and most imposing surviving monument in Novgorod is the Cathedral of St. Sophia. It was built between 1045 and 1050 on the west bank of the Volkhov River. The basic material for the construction of the walls and the piers was obtained in the Novgorod: fieldstone and undressed blocks of limestone set in a mortar of crushed brick and lime. Novgorod chronicles indicate that the interior was painted with frescoes over a period of several decades. Fragments of eleventh-century work have been uncovered, as well as early twelfth-century frescoes.
– Most of the inhabitants of Novgorod were literate and literacy had spread here much earlier than in other parts of Europe. They corresponded on the birch-bark scrolls.
– In Novgorod, street paving began earlier than in Paris and London.
– Alexander Nevsky lived in Novgorod in 1236-1240 and 1241-1252, and Ivan Kalita lived there in 1328-1337.
– It was a boyar republic, owned enormous natural resources.
– The city has preserved unique monuments of Old Russian architecture of the pre-Mongol period.
– In 1242 Alexander Nevsky won the Battle on the Ice.
– In 1862 Novgorod celebrated the 1000th anniversary of the Russian state. Sculptor M. Mikeshin erected a monument the Millennium of Russia in the center of the Novgorod Kremlin.
– The city was occupied during the Great Patriotic War. Valuable collections on the history, archeology and art were stolen from museums. World famous monuments were ruined. After the war, extensive archaeological research was started. On July 26, 1951 the first birch-bark scroll was found.
– On December 8, 2008 the city was awarded the honorary title City of Military Glory.
– From 1932 to 1990 Nizhny Novgorod was called Gorky.
– Leonardo da Vinci’s sketch was used for building of the local Kremlin.
– The first tram appeared exactly in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896.
– More than 150 movies were filmed in this city.
– Peter I celebrated his 50th birthday in Nizhny Novgorod. Celebrations were held on May 28, 1722, when Peter I made a stop in the city during his Persian campaign.