The 'Novgorodian First Chronicle' mentions Novgorod Velikiy as an already existing settlement dates back to the year 859. Thus, the town of Novgorod Velikiy is the oldest Russian city in the Russian Federation, and it translates as "The Great New City". Lying on the water route known as the Great Varagian Way, the town was a "coveted area" for foreigners and more than once it halted invading hordes. In the Middle Ages it was a recognized centre of crafts and commerce.
Novgorod Velikiy's architecture and painting are unquestionably the best example of world culture. The Novgorod Velikiy Kremlin is the 11th century citadel with unassailable walls and towers. In the vicinity of the Kremlin lies one of the oldest Russian buildings, the famous St. Sophia Cathedral (1045 - 1050). It is a vast five-naved, six-domed temple. In the 11th-12th centuries St. Sophia's Cathedral was embellished with frescoes, and the main iconstasis took its present shape by 1528, consisting of icons painted in the 14th - 17th centuries. Today, St. Sophia possesses the famous wonder-working icon of the 12th century, "Our Lady of the Sign".
One of the most significant elements of medieval, Novgorodian culture was the written language. The earliest known example of Russian manuscript literature, the world famous Ostomir Lectionary of 1054, was commissioned by the 'posadnik' of Novgorod Velikiy named Ostomir. To transcribe manuscripts was believed to be pleasing to God, and the scribes of this city left us chronicles, hagiographies and "khozhdeniya" (travels) that relate to the voyages of inquisitive Novgorodians exploring far-away lands.
In August 1941, Novgorod Velikiy was occupied by German troops. The occupation lasted for two years and six months, and the city was greatly damaged due to it being on the front line for the whole time. The world famous monuments of ancient Russian architecture suffered to a considerable extent. After the liberation, Novgorod Velikiy was restored thanks to the heroic efforts of the city's inhabitants.
Nowadays, Novgorod Velikiy is a small, cosy, but nevertheless, modern town where one can experience the heritage of Russia. Surrounding the Kremlin is the Yuriev Monastery, the arcades and cathedrals of Yaroslav's estate, the magnificent 12th - 14th century churches and the 16th - 19th century monuments of wooden architecture located in enchanting pine groves…
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