Novgorod Veliki

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History of Novgorod Veliki

Novgorod ('New Town') was founded by Scandinavian Vikings in the earliest days of the Christian era. In 862 the Varangians or Varags (Normans) under Rurik invaded the district and took possession of the left bank, where the Kremlin now stands. In 882 Oleg transferred the seat of his government to Kiev, and Novgorod was administered by a Viceroy (Namy Astnik). Yaroslavl. (1019-1054) endowed the town with great privileges. During the llth -12th cent. Novgorod grew greatly in power, while at the same time its bond of union with Kiev became slacker and slacker, until finally a kind of republican commonwealth, known as the Volkhov Republic, was formed. During the campaigns of conquest of the Novgorodian princes, which extended as far as the Baltic sea, it entered into relations with Wisby, which was then the focus of the Baltic trade. In its struggles with the Mongols Novgorod was victorious, but it fostered, from motives of policy and a good relationship with the Khan of the Golden Horde.

The propinquity of the Russian princes, however, prevented the Novgorodians from perpetuating their empire. In 1471 their armies were defeated near Lake Ilmen (June and July) by the Russian and Tartar hordes of Ivan III., Grand-Prince of Moscow, and Novgorod was compelled to acknowledge his supremacy. In 1478, the town was captured and its citizens paid homage to Ivan the Terrible who is said to have butchered 60,000 of its citizens.
Adapted from Karl Baedeker, "Russia", Leipzig, 1914

The Yuriyev Monastery


Photo Panoramio

The Yuriyev Monastery under the Midnight Sun seen from across the river Volkhov.

Photo Sergey Bulanov Panoramio

St George in the Yuriev Monastery founded 1030 by Yaroslav I, one of the oldest in Russia 1119-1130

Photo RWFG 1977

St. George icon, Novgorod 1130, now in the Tretyakov Gallery

Novgorod St Sophia Cathedral

1044 - 1052

Photo Panoramio

Cathedral of St. Sofia, built by Macedonian craftsmen in 1044 - 1052, is an important monument of Russian architectture at the time of Yaroslav I. Its frescoes were repainted in 1893-1900, and have only recently, after the destructions of WW II, been restored.


St. Peter and Paul, 1050-1052 from the Sofia Cathedral, Museum of Art, Novgorod


Face of the Archangel Mikhael from the Sofia Cathedral now at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. This is one of the most beautiful and famous early Byzantine-Russian icons. Second half of the 12th century.

The Novgorod Kreml

1044 - 1302

Photo Panoramio
The south-eastern wall of the Kreml

The first reference to fortifications on the site dates to 1044, with additional construction taking place in 1116. These were probably earthen embankments topped by a wooden palisade, although stone towers and walls were built in 1302.
The current fortress was built between 1484 and 1490 by Muscovite builders in the wake of Grand Prince Ivan III's conquest of the city in 1478; a third of it was paid for by the Novgorodian archbishop Gennady, a Muscovite appointee (1484-1504). It is a large oval with nine surviving towers (three additional towers have not survived).

Cathedral of the Nativity in the St Anthony Monastery


Photo Panoramio

Built in 1117 the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in St. Anthony's Monastery was much distorted by later alterations and outbuildings. In the facades of the cathedral semicircular holes on top and broad new windows below were installed instead of the old narrow window slots. The inside of the church was likewise severely altered , See also

Photo Panoramio

Interior of the restored Cathedral

Varlaam Khutyn Monastery

1192 - 1515

Photo Panoramio

The Church of the Transfiguration 1515

The monastery was founded in 1192 by its first hegumen, the former Novgorodian boyar Oleksa Mikhailovich, whose monastic name was Varlaam. The main church of the monastery was consecrated by Archbishop Gavril of Novgorod the following year, the same year Varlaam died. He is buried in the church to the right of the altar. A new church was completed by 1515. The Neoclassical belltower dates from the reign of Catherine the Great in the 1780s. - The place is now occupied by nuns.

Church of the Transfiguration in Nereditsa


Photo Panoramio

Church of the Transfiguration on the hill of Nereditsa 1198, rebuilt after WW II in 1958.

Photo Nosikov SP,

The frescoes of the Nereditsa, of which about 15% were saved, are of great art historical importance.

Church of Our Savior at Kovalyovo


Photo Panoramio

The Church of Our Savior at Kovalyovo was built in 1345. The church has been rebu8ilt after the destructions of WW II. Only traces of frescoes (see the video below) from 1380 were saved. They show influences, by Macedonian artists.

Photo from icon-art

An illustrative example of a
Macedonian mural of the Dormition from the Church of the Theotokos Peribleptos (St. Clement), in Ohrid,
1294–1295. See also the Znamenskiy Cathedral (Church of the Sign) and the icons in the Church of the Assumption in Volotovo Polye

Here you can see a 3-D video of the inside of the chuch:

Church of the Assumption in Volotovo Polye

1352 - 1380

The Dormition Church at Volotovo Polye near Novgorod,, built in 1352, partly frescoed in 1363 and completed in 1380, was destroyed in the Second World War. Fortunately, photographs and copies of the frescoes were made in the early twentieth century. Their style is akin to that of theophan the greek, and they were once thought to be by him, but this is being disputed. Apparently the complex has been reconstructed recently, see the vido below. I found no photos of the church in the internet.


The Assumption icon (1480s, Museum of History, Novgorod ) from the Deesis of the Dormition Church at Volotovo Pole Fortunately, some of its icons had been removed from the church before 1943. The preoccupation of the unknown master of the Volotovo frescoes as well as the icons with transcendental aspects at the expense of detailed locality reflects the fifteenth-century interest in spiritual matters (hesychasm?).


Transfiguration ftom the deesis of the Dormition Church, (1480s, Museum of History Novgorod).

Here you can see a 3-D video of the inside of the chuch:

Church of St. Theodor Sratilatus


Photo Sergey Duhanin, Panoramio

Church of St. Theodor Sratilatus 1361


St Theodore Stratelates with scenes from his life from this church, end 15th cent. Historical Museum, Novgorod. One of the most beautiful Novgorod hagiographic icons. From under the whitewash fragments of murals of the late 14th cent have been recovered. According to some art historians they are by Theophanes the Greek.
See also

Church of the Transfiguration of our Savior "on Iliyina Street"


Photo Panoramio

Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Ilina Street, 1374

Photo Yashin Marina,

Christ Pantocrator in the cupola, Theophanes the Greek? 1380s

Photo Yashin Marina,

Virgin of the Sign and Archangel Gabriel, fragments of frescoes by Theophanes the Greek?

Church of St. Peter and Paul in Kozhevniki


Photo Panoramio

The recently restored church of the tanners (Kozhevniki) district, 1406?

Icon of Apostels Peter and Paul , Novgorod, 15th cent, Russian Museum St. Petersburg

Church of St. Blasius


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St Blasius (Vlasy) was built in 1407, replacing an older wooden church, built in 1184.

Photo icon-art

SS Florus and Laurus, Novgorod, late 15th cent

This splendid Novgorodian icon at the Tretyakov is probably not from this church, but it deals with a very popular subject in Novgorod painting: horses, which were brought from the Balkans. Sts. Florus and Laurus - to both sides of Archangel Mikhael - were horse breeders for the Russian saints. They appear related to the Dioscuri in Byzantine iconography.

Nikholo-Vyazhischsky Monastery, Church of St.Nikholas

1471 - 1608

Photo Panoramio

In 1411 St. Nicholas Cathedral was built (from wood), in 1417 the annals mention the construction of a new church (the former probably burned). It survived to the end of the XVII century before being rebuilt a second time: St. Nicholas Cathedral (1681-1683) and the churches of John the Theologian and the Ascension (1694-1698). Peculiar to the end of the 17th century the buildings are ornamented with colored tiles, and tile friezes encircle the monastery building and decorate the window frames


Church of Boris and Gleb


Photo Panoramio

Church of Boris and Gleb was built in 1536 at the site of an older church, which was not totally dismantled: The style of 15th cent Novgorod is still percievable. See also


SS. Boris and Gleb. Novgorod, 1335, Historical Museum, Moscow

St. John Bogoslova in Bitke


Photo Panoramio

Photo icon-art

St John the Baptist in the Wilderness, Novgorod, Late 15th-early 16th cent.

Znamenskiy Cathedral (Church of the Sign)


Photo Panoramio

Znamenskiy Cathedral, The Church of the Sign, was built 1688 to house the icon of the Sign shown below:


Mother of God orans, before 1169, originally in the Sofia Cathedral, since 17th cent in the Church of the Sign (Znamenie) in Novgorod. Now at the Novgorod Museum of History and Architecture.

The frescoes in the church are well restored

Here you can see a 3-D video of the inside of the chuch: