Friday, July 22, 2011

Novgorod - the very historic New Town

The fastest way to get from Moscow to Novgorod is by overnight train. It's about 500km north west of there. For most of our group it was a long time (if not the first time) they had been in a sleeper. We left Moscow at 10 pm in bright sunlight still.

Overnight train at Moscow Station
Fitting all our luggage into a relatively small sleeping compartment was a challenge. The beds were very firm, and few people seemed to have much sleep. Arrived at Novgorod at 6 am, and were able to get into the hotel straight away. The trip was an experience, but not too bad overall.

David taking up his half of the sleeper. Bags now on the beds above

Most of us wondered why we were going to Novgorod, since we hadn't actually heard of it before the trip. The town apparently appears in chronicles in 859. It is a very old trading town on the Volkhov River which allowed trade between Scandinavia and the Mediterranean Sea. It's a city of about 200 000 people. It had many churches, but only a few are still preserved.

St Nicholas Cathedral built in 1113
Its main claim to fame is St Sophia's Cathedral, the oldest church in Russia, built in the 11th Century, and still in use today. It's located in the city's kremlin, also very old structure, which has Russia's oldest bell tower.

St Sophia's Cathedral built in the 11th Century

People were sunbaking on the beach below the bell tower
There is also a magnificent statue/monument which celebrates Russia's millenium in 1862.

Locally there is also a very old monastery, with magnificent blue and gold domed towers.

Yuriev Monastery

Nearby there is an outdoor museum of wooden architecture devoted to preserving old wooden structures in the locality. The buildings are constructed totally of wood and contain no nails at all.

Traditional house made totally of wood.

We had lunch provided at a local restaurant, our second 4 course lunch. Borsch is a favourite in Russia. Not much dinner tonight, but a performance by a local group of songs and dance.

Next, St Petersburg.

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