Novgorod The Great: the Russian Athens



Mentioned for the first time in the Chronicles in 859, Novgorod (Russian for “new town”) is not simply one of Russia’s oldest cities. This is the city that is related to by Russians as “Novgorod the Great” for the great role it played in the Russian history. The ordinary name given to the city at its foundation proved to be very accurate. Over a long period of time Novgorod was the city renown for the achievements in various fields of human activity, whether it concerned culture, trade, architecture, or social development.

After disintegration of the ancient Russian state Kiev Rus’ into several independent principalities (12th century) Novgorod became the capital of the state with advanced social structure: Republic of Novgorod (1136-1478), which occupying the vast territory stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Urals was one of the biggest countries in Europe. The new form of government granted townsmen and villagers participation in the political life through the local parliament (veche in old Russian), which was a very progressive form of government for the medieval Russia. A very convenient location of the city at the intersection of the main trade routs resulted in development of trade, art and culture.

By the 15th century Novgorod grew to a prosperous city known far beyond the borders of the country due to the inspired labour of the local craftsmen, merchants and artists. An absolute majority of the city’s population, including women and children, where literate (the fact unparalleled anywhere in Europe until the modern time). The secular and religious art of Novgorod was very advanced for the time. It was the only Russian member-city of the Hanseatic League of the commercial towns, the most influential commercial structure in the medieval Europe. It was in Novgorod that the psalmbook, the oldest of the Slavic texts, and the most of the 11th - 15th century Russian noted books were written. Built in the late 15th century Russia’s first Italian-styled Kremlin of Novgorod set an example for building fortresses of this type in other rich Russian cities too.

With three circles of monasteries and dozens of churches of high artistic value in and around the city, Novgorod was always one of the leading spiritual centers of Russia. The Cathedral of St.Sophia (1050) is city’s most majestic and one of three Russia’s oldest sanctuaries built in honour of St. Sophia. As a result of annexation by the Moscow principality (1494) and rapid developing of St.Petersburg, Novgorod, starting from the early 16th century, began to loose its trading and economic significance. One the other hand it helped to preserve some of the old parts of the city from the modern urban development. The present Novgorod is a big tourist center, famous for numerous historical monuments, and masterpieces of the medieval architecture.

The program of the tour:

 Leaving St.Petersburg by bus (at around 7:30).

Arrival to Novgorod (at around 11:00). Russian traditional “Bread & Salt” welcome by a Russian folklore group.

Coffee-stop at the Beresta hotel.

Sightseeing tour of Novgorod, including the Kremlin and the Cathedral of St.Sophia.

Lunch at a restaurant of Russian cuisine.

Tour of the Yuriev Monastery and the Cathedral of St.George.

Tourof Vitoslavlitsy (open-air museum of the wooden architecture).

Coffee-stop at the Beresta hotel.

Presenting to the customers special birch bark medals to commemorate their visit.

Departure to St.Petersburg. Return to the hotel (at around 21:00).

Recommended period for travel: all year round.

The price of the tour is quoted by request.

Note: A less intense (timewise) tour of Novgorod can be arranged also within the following two-day program:


Arrival to Novgorod (at around 11:00). Russian traditional “Bread & Salt” welcome by a Russian folklore group at the Beresta hotel. Check-in. Tour of the Novgorod Kremlin and the Cathedral of St.Sophia. Visiting Yaroslav Court, the ancient business quarters of the city famous for the architectural monuments of the 11th - 17th centuries. Lunch at the Russian cuisine restaurant at the Pokrov (Intercession) Tower of the Kremlin. Tasting the Russian traditional soft drink kvas (made of fermented bread) and medovukha (honey wine). Visiting handicraft workshops producing folk costumes, samovars and souvenir articles. During the tour the guests will be given a masterclass of making souvenirs of birch rind. Dinner. A boat trip along the Volkhov River and Ilmen Lake giving a good opportunity to relax and enjoy superb views of Yuriev monastery and the city from the water.

Day 2

Breakfast. Tour of Vitoslavlitsy, the open-air museum of the wooden architecture. Authentically restored traditional village gives an idea of the way of life and customs of the Russian peasantry in the old days. Among the main museum’s attractions are the 16thcentury church and farmers’ houses built without a single nail. The tour of the Yuriev Monastery (1030), the city’s oldest, including the Cathedral of St.George. Lunchat the Pri Dvore (By the Court) Russian restaurant. Departure.


Recommended period for travel: summer.

The price of the tour is quoted by request.