Novgorod Veliky, despite meaning ‘Great New City’, is in fact one of the oldest cities in Russia and today it retains much of its ancient feel. Many of its ancient churches and its kremlin, which are all mentioned in 1000-year-old chronicles, still stand today.
The first Russian historical texts were written in Novgorod and documents written on birch bark have been discovered in archaeological digs here. The city’s market was once bustling with merchants from all over the country bringing wealth to the city and helping it fund church building projects and its class of powerful nobles, who ran the city as a limited form of a democratic republic. The famous Russian hero Aleksandr Nevsky once ruled here but even he had no choice but to leave the city when the nobles decided to elect a new prince. Novgorod was spared the worse of the Mongol-Tatar invasion and city's architecture and culture remained practically intact. In 1992 the city was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.
Staraya Russa is one of the oldest cities in Russia and in the early 11th century it was an important city in terms of trade, being located on water routes connecting the Baltic, Black and Caspian seas. The city was part of the important trade route from the "Varangians to the Greeks" and also connected Novgorod with Kiev. In the 19th century resorts were established here making use of the area's healing waters and mud. Thanks to this, the city turned into a cultural centre as members of the imperial family and other famous figures came here for treatment.
One of the main reason why tourists come to Staraya Russa today is because of the Dostoevsky House-Museum; the famous write spent his summers here for eight years and wrote some of his famous works here.
During this weekend tour to Novgorod Veliky and Staraya Russa you will see the main sights of the cities and be able to immerse yourself in the mediaeval charm of Veliky Novgorod and provinciality of Staray Russa. There is a comfortable premium night train between Moscow and Novgorod which will make your trip all the more pleasant.
Moscow → Veliky Novgorod → Staraya Russa → Veliky Novgorod → Moscow
Total distance of the tour: 1406km - 1212km | 194km
FRIDAY • DEPARTING MOSCOW
22:05 | Departure of the premium night train "Ilmen" from Moscow's Leningradsky Station to Novgorod.
Duration: 8 hours
06:05 | Arrival in Novgorod Veliky and transfer to your hotel.
Breakfast at your hotel.
10:00 | City tour of Novgorod Veliky - the highlights of the excursion include:
- Novgorod Kremlin - one of the most ancient monuments of military-defensive architecture in Russia. It consists of constructions of various ages, but as a whole it comprises a unique complex and was the centrepiece of the Novgorod Republic where the city’s veche (a popular assembly) met to discuss and vote on issues.
- St Sophia’s Cathedral – this white stone monument is the oldest Orthodox cathedral in Russia. It was built between 1045 and 1050 and for centuries has been the focal point of worship in Novgorod lands.
- Yaroslav’s Gorodische – this site located on the right-bank of the River Volkhov opposite the Kremlin was where Yaroslavl the Wise had his court. It was first mentioned in 1030, when, along with the neighbouring market, it would have been a vibrant and bustling part of the city.
- Millennium of Russia Memorial-Bell - this wonderful monument was unveiled in 1862. The form of the monument symbolises both the bell of the Novgorod veche and the Monomakh cap, worn by grand princes during their coronation. There are three levels of sculptures on the monument depicting important figures in Russian history and the doctrine of the time: Orthodoxy, Autocracy and the People.
- St Sophia’s Belfry – this is the oldest surviving belfry in Russia and holds a unique collection of bells. In addition from up here you can enjoy great views of the city.
- St Nicholas’ Cathedral – at over 900 years old, this is another of the oldest cathedrals in Russia.
Guided tour of the Yuriev Monastery – this monastery was founded in 1030 on the orders of Yaroslav the Wise in honour of his patron saint. St George’s Cathedral was the first stone church to be built in the monastery; work began in 1119 on the orders of Mstislav Vladimirovich, the son of Vladimir Monomakh. In terms of scale it is only beaten by St Sophia's Cathedral in the city, but it is certainly another architectural treasure of mediaeval Rus and like no other in terms of its harmony and serenity.
Guided tour of the Wooden Architecture Museum – in the 12th century the Panteleymonov Monastery stood where this museum now stands and some of the remains of the monastery can still be found at the museum in the form of St Panteleimon’s Church and a 16th century refectory. In addition the museum has four ethnographical zones representing typical peasant estates with all household outbuildings.
Duration: 5 hours | Transportation: by a car and walking excursion
SATURDAY • NOVGOROD KREMLIN
Breakfast at the hotel.
Transfer to Staraya Russa. On the way from Novgorod Veliky to Staraya Russa you will make a stop in the village of Korostyn to enjoy great views of Lake Ilmen and to see the Traveller's Palace, where important people stayed en route between St Petersburg and Moscow, and the Dormition Church, which was built in 1726 by Italian architect Gaetano Chiaveri on the orders of Empress Catherine I.
A city tour around Staraya Russa - including a visit to mediaeval monuments of architecture: the 12th century Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral, the 15th century St George's Church, the 14th century St Menas' Church and the 17th century Trinity Church. The Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery is the oldest building in Staraya Russa. The monastery itself was founded in 1192 close to the right bank of the River Polista. The first wooden church was built at the same time. This burned down in 1198 and in just 70 days a new stone version was constructed. This original cathedral was then added to in the 15th and 17th centuries. The monastery's collection of buildings, mainly dating from the 17th century, have also survived to this day.
Guided tour of Fyodor Dostoevsky House-Museum - this is where the great Russian writer wrote The Demons and The Brothers Karamazov. The museum's exhibitions tell of the life of Dostoevsky and his family in Staraya Russa. The house's interior house, furniture, paintings, books and photographs recreate the atmosphere where Dostoevsky lived and created literary masterpieces. Next to the house is a garden with a banya and the picturesque embankment of the River Pererytitsa with St George's Church, which is described in the novel The Brother Karamazov and hasn't changed too much since then - it's not hard to imagine Dostoevsky walking along this quaint part of the city.
Duration: 4 hours | Transportation: by a car
16:00 | Transfer to Veliky Novgorod.
Free time in the city.
21:15 | Departure of the night train to Moscow.
SUNDAY • STARAYA RUSSA
05:15 | Arrival in Moscow.
- The tour is planned for starting on Friday and ending on Monday, but it is possible on any day.
- All excursions/guided tours included in the itinerary are private which means private guides and private transport along the programme - unless otherwise stated.
- The tour is suitable for travellers with children.
- Best time to travel on this route: from the end of April to mid-October.
• CANCELLATION POLICY •
DATE OF CANCELLATION
|FROM 60 TO 45 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||10%|
|FROM 44 TO 15 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||30%|
|FROM 14 TO 7 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||50%|
|LESS THAN 7 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||100%|
|PARK IN VELIKY NOVGOROD ****|
The Park Inn was the first chain hotel to be opened in Veliky Novgorod. It is located slightly out of the historical centre on the opposite side of the kremlin. It takes around 20 minutes to walk to historical centre. Close to the hotel is 30-Letia Oktyabr Park. The railway station is 4km from the hotel.
SATURDAY/SUNDAY • MASTER CLASS ON PAINTING CHINA
At this factory museum you will see unique collections of 19th and 20th century chinaware from the Novgorod Region. On display are examples from four china factories in the region: Kominterm from Volkhovo, Proletary from Bronnitsy, Krasny Farforist from Gruzino and Vozrozhdenie from Novgorod. Both mass produced examples and one-off orders are exhibited, all of which are remarkable for their beauty and delicacy. At the end of the excursion you can try your hand at painting your own pieces of china, which you can take home with you as a souvenir.
|PRICE PER GROUP||1-2 PAX||3-4 PAX||5-6 PAX||7-8 PAX|
Duration: 40 mins