Novgorod Kremlin: the Oldest Fortress in Russia

The Novgorod Kremlin is a fortress on the left bank of the Volkhov River. This is one of the most visited attractions of the city, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In olden days this grandiose structure was affectionately called "Detinets". Historians suppose that the word "detinets" derived from the word "children", as children were primarily hidden in the fortress during the enemy attacks on the city.

The wooden Novgorod Kremlin existed at this site as early as in the XI century! In 1050, St. Sophia Cathedral was built on its territory: this is the most important temple of the Novgorod Republic, which has survived to our time. Detinets repeatedly suffered from fires. In the XV century it was rebuilt in stone. However, the imposing appearance of the Kremlin can be appreciated today as well. Its 15-meter high walls, stretching for a kilometer and a half, are surrounded by a deep ditch. Nine Kremlin towers have survived to this day, including Spasskaya Tower built in 1297, and Pokrovskaya Tower dating back to 1305.

The aforementioned ancient stone temple of Russia, named after Saint Sophia, is the dominant of the Kremlin. One of the walls of the cathedral, where fragments of ancient masonry have been preserved, has a sign with the inscription saying that Alexander Nevsky led his army to the Battle of the Neva in 1240 and to the Battle on the Ice in 1242 just from here. One of the main relics of St. Sophia Cathedral is the miraculous Icon of Our Lady of the Sign, which saved Novgorod from devastation in the 12th century. A figure of a dove is depicted on the cross of St. Sophia Cathedral. As legend has it, this bird was sent to the city for solace after the Novgorod pogrom in 1569-1570, when hundreds of Novgorodians were executed by the order of Ivan the Terrible. The self-willed Tsar believed the rumors about the treason of the Novgorod nobility and their desire to resign to the Polish king’s control. According to legend, the pigeon sat on the cross and petrified with the horror of what it saw. And now, until the bird flies off the cross, it will be the guardian angel for Veliky Novgorod. Fragments of skilful frescoes of the XII century have been preserved inside the cathedral. The amazing Magdeburg Gates are also impressive. Near the cathedral rises the Sofia belfry, atop of which there is a viewing platform and an exhibition of ancient bells, from a small (24 kilograms) to a big one weighing 320 kilograms!

The center of the Kremlin features "The Millennium of Russia" Monument, established in Novgorod by the decree of Alexander II in 1862. The 15-meter-high monument resembles a giant bell adorned by 129 figures of statesmen, military, enlighteners, writers and painters. The height of large high reliefs reaches three meters!

When walking around the Kremlin, don’t miss the main building of the museum (there were government agencies here, that is, state institutions in the 18th century) which has a rich collection of icons from the 11th to the 19th century. It also keeps artifacts from the excavations: the oldest birch bark letters and coins. In the warm season you can enjoy walking from the Kremlin straight to the Volkhov River. Its shore features a sandy beach and a pier for pleasure boats that go to Lake Ilmen.

Opening Hours:
Now - open
Mon -Sun 06:00-24:00
territoriya Kremlya
173012, Velikiy Novgorod
GPS coordinates:
58.5210892076715, 31.2748789787292
Phone: +7 (816) 2773608

Nearby restaurants

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Sennaya ploshhad 2
173007 Velikiy Novgorod
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MereckovaVolosova 6a
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Restaurant • Banquet room • Bar • Café
MereckovaVolosova 1
173007 Velikiy Novgorod