Veliky Novgorod – great city
Once upon a time, Ilmen Slavs lived near the shores of Lake Ilmen. They built Veliky Novgorod, which was first mentioned in the chronicle in 859. Convenient waterways contributed to the development of trade links of Novgorod. By the end of the X century Novgorod had become a rich trading city. Fur and leather, wax and honey, flax, lard, walrus tiles were exported to Western Europe. The rich and active population of Novgorod limited the prince’s power. Rich boyars were the lords in Novgorod and ruled it themselves. Their arbitrariness sometimes caused rebellions in a city inhabited by craftsmen: masons, potters, shoemakers, gunsmiths, etc. Internal struggle weakened Novgorod.
People did not want to defend the freedom of their city, where the boyars dominated. Meanwhile, the Moscow Grand Dukes, who were striving to unite all the Russian lands under their authority, began to attack the city. Grand Prince Ivan III went to Novgorod with the army twice – in 1471 and 1478. The symbol of Liberty of Novgorod – a veche bell – was taken to Moscow and hung on the bell tower in the Kremlin. But even after that, Novgorod was still one of the richest Russian cities for a long time.
The paintings in the churches of Novgorod are the treasures of Russian art. Theophanes the Greek, famous artist of the XIV century, worked there. Birch bark letters, found in Novgorod, show a wide distribution of literacy among the Novgorodians.
In Novgorod, the streets began to be paved earlier than in Paris and London.
In the Middle Ages it was the center of a huge territory. In 1136, it became the first free republic, ruled by Veche, on the territory of feudal Russia.
In 1236-1240 and 1241-1252 Alexander Nevsky was reigning in Novgorod, in 1328-1337 – the city was ruled by Ivan Kalita.
Veliky Novgorod was a part of the Hanseatic League, a trade union of northern European cities. The famous route from the Varangians to the Greeks, which connected Byzantium with Scandinavia, went through Veliky Novgorod.
In the middle of the 13th – the middle of the 15th centuries Novgorod became the center of the struggle against Sweden and the Livonian Order. Prince Alexander together with the Novgorod squad defeated the Swedes in the mouth of the Neva on July 15, 1240. Later, the famous battle was named Nevskaya and the Prince became known as Alexander Nevsky. In 1242, Nevsky won the Battle on the Ice.
In the Time of Troubles, Novgorod experienced a severe economic and social crisis. It was captured by the Swedes, ruined and plundered. In 1617 it became the part of Russia again.
In 1727 the city became the center of the Novgorod province.
During the Great Patriotic War the city was occupied. The most valuable collections on history, archeology and art were stolen from museums. World-famous monuments of Novgorod architecture were turned into ruins, virtually all urban economy and industrial enterprises were destroyed.
In 1992 historical monuments of Novgorod were classified as world heritage by UNESCO.
On December 8, 2008, the city was awarded the honorary title City of Military Glory.