Historic Monuments of the City of Novgorod and Surroundings

Novgorod was the first capital of Russia in the 9th century. Surrounded by churches and monasteries, it became a center of Orthodox spirituality, as well as a nucleus of the development and evolution of Russian architecture. Its medieval monuments and the 14th-century frescoes of Theophan the Greek illustrate the development of this architecture and its remarkable cultural creativity.

The city of Novgorod, whose earliest records date back to the 10th century, is located on the ancient trade route between the Baltic and Scandinavian countries. The urban aristocracy that ruled the city-republic called to reign a prince of the Swedish Varega dynasty. This type of organization, close to that of the cities of the Hansa, with which Novgorod maintained close trade contacts, was possessed only by the city of Novgorod and the nearby city of Pskov. 

Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, Russia

The seat of an Orthodox archbishopric, it was one of the oldest and most important centers of art and, in general, of Russian culture. The oldest Slavic-Russian manuscripts were written in this city, including different historiography works (12th century) and the first comprehensive Slavic translation of the Old and New Testaments (15th century). The influence of the crown would come to an abrupt end with the rise to power in Moscow of Ivan the Terrible, who in 1478 took the city, largely destroyed it, and caused a real massacre among its inhabitants. In today's Novgorod, a modern city located on both sides of the Volkhov River, highlights the St. Sophia district, where the walled enclosure of the kremlin is located with the fortifications of the 15th century later reinforced in the 17th century, the St. Sophia Cathedral, from the mid-11th century, the oldest white stone building in Russia, crowned by subtle Byzantine domes, as well as other monuments built between the 12th and 19th centuries, such as the church of St. Blaise, from the 15th century. 

There are also important monuments in the commercial district where numerous churches are located, some of the oldest in the city, such as the Church of the Transfiguration, decorated with frescoes from the late 14th century by Theophanes the Greek, who revived Russian medieval painting and was Andre Roublov's teacher.

Also noteworthy are four religious monuments outside the old city from the 12th and 13th centuries, including the famous church of the Savior of the Nereditsa and the 12th-century monastery of St. Cyril. 

Novgorod, the site of the creation of the national stone architecture, is also one of the oldest national schools of painting. The city is a real "museum" of Russian architecture from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, which perfectly illustrates the architectural development of the country.

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