Veliky Novgorod is deservedly called "the father of Russian cities." The city was founded on the Volkhov River in the 8th century. Veliky Novgorod witnessed the calling of Rurik and the place where Russian statehood was born. The city has preserved unique monuments of ancient Russian architecture - Novgorod was not subjected to the Mongol invasion. Archaeological excavations are still being carried out in the city limits and new objects are being discovered. There are no analogues of local attractions in terms of historical value.
2 days in Veliky Novgorod is quite enough to see the main tourist sites. You will have time to stroll through the vast territory of the Novgorod Kremlin, visit ancient monasteries and temples, take a boat trip along the Volkhov and examine museum expositions. The main thing is to determine in advance for yourself a list of interesting sights and rationally plan a route.
The first day in Veliky Novgorod should be devoted to exploring the sights of the central part of the city. This is where most of the top properties are concentrated. The route is quite busy, but during the walk you can decide for yourself which objects you want to see only from the outside and which ones you want to visit inside.
Victory-Sofiyskaya is the main square of Veliky Novgorod. Popular festivities take place here, a New Year tree is installed in the winter and bright flowers are planted in the summer. The double name has emerged recently. Initially, the square was called Sofiyskaya, but after the Great Patriotic War it was renamed Victory Square. After the collapse of the USSR, it was planned to return the square to its historical name, but, paying tribute to local veterans and the tragic events of the war, the square was assigned a double name. The facades of significant buildings overlook the vast area of Sofiyskaya Square. Among them: the Museum of Fine Arts and the government of the Novgorod region. There is also a monument to Lenin.
Panoramic view of Sofia Square
The Novgorod Kremlin is surrounded by a vast park space of 25 hectares. This is not just a pleasant place to walk, but a huge leisure area. There is a playground with attractions, a cafe, a tennis court and a concert stage. Moving from Sofiyskaya Square to the Kremlin entrance along Meretskov-Volosov Street, you will pass by the Victory and the Soldiers-Liberators Monuments. This path is convenient for external inspection of the following Kremlin towers: Pokrovskaya, Kokuy, Knyazhi, Spasskaya, Dvortsovaya.
If you move along another wall of Detinets along Lawn Street, then you will pass by the monument to Rachmaninov, the Sadko fountain and see the towers: Metropolitan, Fedorovskaya and Vladimirskaya.
Lakes of karst origin are located on the territory of Borovichsky, Lyubytinsky, Khvoyninsky districts of the Novgorod region. To protect these unique ecosystems, as well as the surrounding landscapes, flora and fauna, a natural reserve "Karst Lakes" was created.
The origin of these lakes is associated with the processes of water erosion of dolomites and limestones, as a result of which they dissolve, and a funnel is formed, which is filled with water. The lakes are fed by groundwater, some of them receive hydrogen sulfide springs, which is very rare in the region. The peculiarity of these karst lakes is that the water level in them can change, some periodically even go into underground cavities. Moreover, this process is unpredictable - it can be very difficult to predict when the next increase or decrease in the water level will occur.
Often on the Internet you can find stories of local residents who came to the lake for fishing, and on the spot they saw only a funnel and a stream. This is a truly amazing sight, which is why many tourists seek to see this phenomenon with their own eyes. For them, an excursion tourist trail "The Land of Outgoing Lakes" has even been developed, which allows them to learn more about karst processes. It passes along the lakes from the Molodilninskaya chain; interactive lessons are held for visitors to measure the depth of karst sinkholes. Also, as part of the excursion, the observation deck is visited. Details about the route can be found on the website of the Khvoininsky municipal district administration.
Others come to the lakes during the period when they are full of water to relax, enjoy the amazing nature and fish, because many reservoirs are rich in fish resources. Near the lakes you can see craters and sinkholes, which create a unique relief characteristic of the area. Pine and spruce forests grow in the areas adjacent to water bodies, and areas with swamps are found. Near the lakes, you can find rare plant species, for example, Bohemian sedge, this species is relict. The area of the Karst Lakes is inhabited by rare bird species - osprey and black-throated loon, listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation.
The territory of the reserve is divided into 7 clusters, which include not only the lakes themselves, but also the adjacent area with its flora and fauna.
One of the largest karst lakes in the reserve, located in the Khvoininsky district. The lake is popular with fishermen for its rich resources. Judging by the reviews of fishermen, pike, crucian carp, bream, silver bream, roach are found here. About once every 20 years, the lake completely leaves the water, and it can remain dry for a year or two. Previously, local residents even grazed cattle and raised oats at the site of the lake. The opposite situation can also be observed, when the waters of the lake overflow the shores. For flood protection, the reservoir is connected by a diversion canal to the Suglitsy River.
The longest chain of lakes that are close to each other, their length is about 18 km. They are interconnected by channels, with a strong rise in the water level, they turn into a single body of water. The largest lakes in the chain are Sezzhe, Dubno, Rogavits, Chernoe, Vialets, Belenkoe.
Veliky Novgorod in winter is a popular tourist destination. During this period, one of the oldest cities in Russia looks especially authentic: the Kremlin rampart under the snow, fairgrounds with folk amusements and warming drinks, frosty heads of churches. There are much fewer tourists in the winter city, which means you can completely immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Medieval Russia.
The weather in Veliky Novgorod in winter is rather mild. Usually, during the winter months, the air temperature does not drop below -10-15 degrees. Permanent snow cover is established by the second half of November-early December. January is considered the best month for travel in winter - during the New Year holidays, the city sparkles with festive illumination, fairs and festivities are organized.
Getting to know the city, founded in 859, should start with its architectural monuments. The city escaped destruction by the Mongols - the local architecture, like nowhere else, clearly demonstrates the masterpieces of ancient Russian architecture. Historical sites of Veliky Novgorod and its environs are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Archaeological excavations are still underway in the city - the so-called "cultural layer" lies at a depth of up to 8 meters.
The Novgorod Kremlin, or Detinets, was first mentioned in chronicles in 1044. This is one of the most ancient fortresses of Ancient Rus, which has been perfectly preserved to this day. The Kremlin was erected on a high bank (10 meters) of the Volkhov River. The borders of Novgorodsky Detinets changed several times - until the 15th century. The first Kremlin, under Yaroslav the Wise, was made of wood. Now a ring of walls with 9 towers limits the space of 12 hectares. The length of the Kremlin walls is 1.5 km. The height of the walls varies from 8 to 15 meters. Through several Kremlin towers there is a tourist route "The Battle Route of the Kremlin", but in winter it is closed for free visits. Group excursions are organized from time to time.
The main attraction of Detinets is the 11th century St. Sophia Cathedral. The cathedral does not look solemn, but rather restrained in the northern way. This architectural style is typical only for temples of that century - the Sophia Cathedrals in Kiev and Belarusian Polotsk look like this. Also noteworthy is the Sofia Belfry, built in the 15th century. The freestanding wall-shaped belfry has an exhibition dedicated to bells and an observation deck inside. But in winter, only external inspection is possible.
On the opposite bank of the Volkhov River (across the bridge from Detinets) there is another important historical site of Veliky Novgorod - Yaroslav's Dvorishche or Torg. According to legend, the palace of Yaroslav the Wise was located here - hence the first name. The historical quarter received the second name from the trading area, which was located here later. Now only the surviving arcade of Gostiny Dvor reminds of this stage of history.
Yaroslav's courtyard is remarkable for the churches of the past centuries - each with its own history and characteristics. Some of them now house museum exhibitions. The main temple of this area is the Nikolo-Dvorishchensky Cathedral. The temple was built in the first half of the 11th century. It is a large temple, but restrained in decor. Fragments of frescoes have survived from the first years of the foundation - they can be seen in the lower part of the church, in the sub-church.
The Temple of the Myrrh-Bearing Women, erected at the beginning of the 16th century, is notable for its neat rounded shape. Now an ethnographic exhibition is organized inside. The Church of Paraskeva Pyatnitsa na Torgu, founded in 1207, stands out for its facade - it is the original masonry of the 13th – 16th centuries. Other churches of the Yaroslav's court are also interesting for viewing: the Church of John the Baptist on Opoki, the Church of St. George at the Marketplace, the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Marketplace, the Church of Procopius.
The open-air museum dedicated to wooden buildings from the settlements of the Novgorod region looks especially charming in winter. Wooden huts under the snow do not look like museum exhibits - it seems that you have arrived in an old Russian village. The entourage is complemented by museum curators - they meet visitors in antique clothes, colorful scarves and kokoshniks. The main exhibits of the Vitoslavlitsy Museum are wooden churches built in the 16th – 18th centuries. Also interesting are the huts, inside of which the life of Novgorod peasants is recreated. But it should be borne in mind that during the winter months, some of the exhibitions inside the peasant huts are closed for viewing. Only external inspection of buildings is possible.