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History of Pskov

Pskov, which is said to have been founded in 996, was united with Novgorod to form a bishopric in 992. A republic like Novgorod Pskov rose in the middle ages to be the emporium of a considerable trade with Germany and other countries, and it became a member of the Hanseatic League. During the Mongolian invasions of Russia the town asserted its independence. It also beat off the attacks of the Teutonic Order, The Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, failed to capture Pskov in 1502. In 1510 Grand-Prince Vasili III. Ivanovitch at last succeeded in destroying the independence of the city and incorporated the republic with the principality of Moscow. In 1570 Tsar Ivan the Terrible advanced against Pskov, whose inhabitants he suspected of treason, but he allowed himself to be turned from his plan of destroying the city by the monk Nicholas Salos, who feigned madness to effect his end.
Adapted from Karl Baedeker, "Russia", Leipzig, 1914

The Architecture of Pskov

Pskov is a world of its own. It flourished on its trade, but never played a high political role. It is one of the very few cities of the Old Rus that was never devastated or occupied by the Mongols or Tartars. It boasts a number of small churches from the 11th to the 17th centuries that were built by indigenous craftsmen: A veritable Museum of Russian architecture sine qua non.
Pskov's unique style is best seen in these small churches: single domed buildings with an attached simple bell tower and a covered porch. Their walls are often picturesquely rough and crooked. In some frescoes have survived from the 12th cent under later plaster, now restored (e.g., Cathedral of the Transfiguration).

Pskov Trinity Cathedral and Kreml


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The first wooden Trinity Cathedral was built in the tenth century, allegedly under the patronage of Princess Olga, but this seems unlikely as Olga's conversion was personal, and the conversion of Kievan Rus did not occur until 988, almost two decades after her death. Thus, it seems likely the first church dates to the time of Christianization or shortly thereafter. This church was replaced by a stone church in 1138.

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The cathedral was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries, e.g., in 1367. The current building was built beginning in 1691 and consecrated in 1699.

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Our Lady of Tikhvin with Akathist, 193 × 146 cm, from the Trinity Cathedral, first half of the 16th cent, Pskov State Historical, Architectural and Art Museum.

Pskov Cathedral of the Transfiguration


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The Cathedral of the Transfiguration in the Mirozhsky Monastery, Pskov 1130

The Mirozhsky Icon of the Mother of God Orans, “Virgin of the Sign” ,attended by the donor-saints Prince Dovmont and his wife Maria Dmitrievna. Pskov Museum of Art

The unique frescoes of the Transfiguration Cathedral

12th centrury

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Descent into Hell 1130s

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Christ before Caiaphas, 1130s

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Appearance of Christ to the women visiting his tomb (Easter), 1130s


The Ascension of Christ in the dome, before 1156

Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in the Snetogorsky Peter and Paul Monastery



Snetogorsky Monastery above the Reka Velnika (Big River), 1311. At present Snetogorsky Monastery is occupied by nuns.

Photo Saveli Yamshchikov, "Pskov", Aurora, Leningrad, 1978

Frescoes in the church of the Nativity of the Virgin, part of a Nativity. The frescoes show Macedonian influence.1413

Photo Saveli Yamchtchikov, "Pskov", Aurore, Leningrad, 1978

Frescoes in the church of the Nativity of the Virgin, part of a Dormition 1413

The Minor Churches of Pskov

Church of the Archangel Mikhael

1339 - 1696

Church of Archangel Mikhael 1339, repairs and alterations (1613 and 1696) have changed the original appearance of the church: chapels and galleries. The tower is 17th cent.

New Ascension Church

1467 – 17th cent

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New Ascension Church 1467, rebuilt in the 17th century

Church of St Nicholas on Lake Pskov


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Church of St Nicholas on Lake Pskov, 1472 For a detailed description of the history and architecture of this church see

St George of Vzvoza

16th cent

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Church of St George of Vzvoza,

Church of St. Nicholas at Usokhe


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Church of St. Nicholas at Usokhe, 1536

Church of the Assumption of the Theotokos at the Ferry


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Church of the Assumption of the Theotokos and bell tower at the Ferry, 1521

Church of the Intercession and the Nativity at Proloma


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Church of the Intercession and the Nativity at Proloma 1581

Old Ascension Church

16th cent

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Old Ascension Church, (Staro Vosnecheniya) 16th century

Church of St. Nicholas in the Market


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Church of St. Nicholas in the Market, 1676

The Castle of Izborsk

East of Pskov

9th cent

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The earthen walls of Izborsk west of Pskov was the seat of Rurik's brother Trurov from 862-864 and one of the most formidable fortresses of medieval Russia.

The Pechory Monastery

18th cent

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The Monastery of the Caves or Pskovo-Pechersky Dormition Monastery (present buildings 18th cent) east of Pskov on today's Estonian border. View of the precinct from across the wall.

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