Having separated myself from the Volga Dream team its time to venture forth alone again (or at least with guides and driver). So a 200 km drive in a southerly direction to the town/city of Novgorod. Also founded in the 9th century and ruled by the Rurik dynasty, it played a crucial role in defending Kievan Rus from invaders from the Baltic states and Sweden for over 700 years until they managed to seriously piss off Ivan the Terrible who ransacked the town in 1570 and slaughtered virtually the entire population. The Swedes finally took over in 1611 until Peter the Great sent them packing back to Sweden. It remained a quiet provincial centre until WW2 when the Germans invaded and occupied the town for 2 1/2 years – bombing and shelling most of the area. However it still has a Kremlin and a multitude of Churches and Cathedrals, most of which have been, or are in the process of being, restored. Dozens in fact as rich merchants who had sailed down the River Volkhov from the Baltic, competed with each other to build the biggest and best. Needless to say Icons and frescoes abound including some by Theophanes the Greek dating back to the 14th Century. Anyway a few examples……..
One especially special church that the the Russians pleaded with the Nasis not to touch so they bombed it to bits anyway !!
Lots of legends about Icons and Arrows from Suzdal and a weeping pigeon who still sits atop the main Cathedral………….
A huge monument in the middle of the Kremlin which is a sort of Who’s Who of Russian History that the Nasis tried to ship back to Berlin but were defeated by its magnitude and the resilience of the Russians…….
And a memorial to all who perished…
Then a long drive back to St Petersburg and check in to the wonderful Helvetia Hotel.
Off to Orianenbaum tomorrow but that’s another story………..