Staraya Ladoga

Often called “The first Russian capital” Staraya Ladoga is indeed among the earliest known Russian cities. It is believed that the name of ancient Novgorod (The New Town) derives from comparison to the even older settlement of Old Ladoga. Scientific data suggests that Ladoga was founded in 753. Until 950, it was one of the most important trading ports of Eastern Europe. Merchant vessels sailed from the Baltic Sea through Ladoga to Novgorod and then to Constantinople or the Caspian Sea. This route is known as the Trade Route from the Varangians (Russian name for the Vikings) to the Greeks. An alternative way led down the Volga River along the Volga trade route to the Khazar capital of Atil, and then to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, all the way to Baghdad. The oldest Arabian Middle Age coin in Europe was unearthed in Ladoga.

According to the Hypatian Codex, the legendary Varangian (Viking) leader Rurik arrived at Ladoga in 862 and made it his capital. Rurik\'s successors later moved to Novgorod and then to Kiev, thus laying foundations for the powerful state of Kievan Rus, the first great kingdom of the Eastern Slavs.