Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings
Historic Monuments Of Novgorod And Surroundings
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Novgorod was one of the major centres of Russian culture and spirituality: its monuments and the treasures they house bear living witness to this. As an outstanding cultural centre, birthplace of the national style of stone architecture, and one of the oldest national schools of painting, the town of Novgorod influenced the development of Russian art as a whole throughout the Middle Ages. The broad range of monuments conserved in Novgorod makes it a veritable 'conservatory' of Russian architecture of the Middle Ages and later periods (11th-19th centuries). These monuments alone suffice to illustrate the development of Russian architecture.

The town of Novgorod, the earliest documentary reference to which dates from the 10th century, lay on the trade route linking Central Asia with northern Europe (Baltic and Scandinavian countries). The urban aristocracy that governed the city-republic through a People's Assembly (Vece) invited a prince from the Swedish (Varangian) dynasty of the Rurikids to reign over them. In the Russian world, only the cities of Novgorod and Pskov had this sort of organization, which was similar to that of the Hanseatic cities, with which Novgorod had close trading contacts.

The See of an Orthodox archbishop, Novgorod (like Pskov) was one of the oldest and most important centres of Russian art and, more generally, of Russian culture. The most ancient Russian Old Church Slavonic manuscripts (11th century) were written at Novgorod, including an autonomous historiography (as early as the 12th century) and, in particular, the first complete translation into Slavonic of the Old and New Testaments (late 15th century). Novgorod and Pskov were jointly the birthplace of Russian stone architecture and the first national schools of painting.

It was only after the conquest of the two republics (1478, in the case of Novgorod) by the Muscovite rulers that the present Russian capital acquired cultural supremacy.

In Novgorod itself, there is the district of St Sophia, which includes: the Kremlin with its 15th-century fortifications, reinforced in the 17th century: the church of St Sophia from the mid-11th century, and other monuments from the 12th to 19th centuries, monuments in the commercial district (including many of the oldest churches in the town, such as the Church of the Transfiguration, decorated with frescoes at the end of the 14th century by Theophanes the Greek, who was responsible for reviving medieval Russian painting and was the teacher of Andrei Rublev);and four religious monuments (12th and 13th centuries) outside the old town (including the famous church of Neredica).