Wandering Camera

Album 136
(Translated b
y Andrei Frizyuk)


Having examined the vicinity, let's enter the city.

Novgorod the Great is one of the most ancient towns of Russia. It was first mentioned by chroniclers in 859. The name is obviously derived from the Russian words for 'new town'. It's not so obvious what was the 'old town' then. Having been the first capital of Russian state, Novgorod was later incorporated into Kievan Rus. It started to regain independence after 1136. At that time Novgorod (known to the Westerners as Holmgard) was a kind of federation composed of 5 city districts.

The general assembley of population (called 'veche') elected the city's stadtholder ('posadnik') and examined some topical issues. Looks like a republican government, with a modification: stadtholders were elected exclusively from boyars. Just like today ;) General assembley also elected an archbishop who stood for a factual head of government. As a capital of huge territories and a prosperous member of the Hanseatic League, the city styled itself "Sovereign Lord Novgorod the Great".

In 1478, after a series of bloody conflicts, Ivan III incorporated Novgorod into the Muscovite state. Archbishop and governors were to be appointed in Moscow. In the course of the 15th century a stone fortress and many new churches were erected. Initially the 2nd largest city of Muscovy, Novgorod gradually lost its former importance. Since 1727 it has been an administrative centre of the Novgorod government, transformed after the revolution into the Novgorod oblast.

During the WWII Novgorod was occupied by German forces. Numerous churches and buildings were systematically destroyed, only to be replaced with modern apartment blocks after the war.

In this album we shall concentrate our attention on the spot called Yaroslav's Court and the Market Square around it.

Much construction activity was going on there from 11th to 15th centuries, starting from the long-demolished palace of Yaroslav the Wise (hence the name).

Here is a window of the St.John-on-the-Steeps (built in 1127-30, reconstructed in 1453, and represented in the photo above). Irregularity of its execution is characteristic of ancient Russian architecture. It's hard to get lines straight when you work with limestone.

Basically, there is enormous difference between churches and other structures of Novgorod and St.Petersburg. No wonder. St.Petersburg style was shaped by foreigners (primarily from Italy and France), and subsequent architects had to reckon with it in order to maintain stylistic unity.

St-George-on-the-Market church, originally erected in 1356, was rebuilt in the 18th century.

One should keep in mind that not all the churches were white-painted.

Some of them have been rendered white in recent times.

The Assumption-on-the-Market church was constructed in 1135.

It has been alternately known as Assumption-on-the-Goat's-Beard, because cows, horses, and goats were sold nearby.

Near the churches is a quite nice park.
The Veche Square.

On the left is the Church of Saint Parascovia (1156).

On the right is the belfry with the Veche Tower (1690s).

To the left from the tower one can see the Church of Holy Wives (1508).

This turret reminds me the belltower of the Sampson Cathedral (see album 92).

Despite its name, the Veche Tower has nothing to do with Veche. It is a part of the Merchants' Court.

The kremlin as seen from the distance. We shall visit it in the next album.
St-Procopius-on-the-Market church was put up in 1529.
The kremlin's wall.
This monument recalls those Novgorod soldiers who covered a cannon's embrasure with their bodies. I ignore the details.

Arcade of the Merchants' Court may be seen in the background.

The most ancient building of Yaroslav's Court is the Saint Nicholas Cathedral.

Its construction was started in 1113.

Novgorod is situated near the Ilmen lake, at the mouth of the Volkhov river (which will be discussed in one of the following albums).

Ahead of us is a bridge across the river. In the next album we shall turn around and proceed to the kremlin.




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