Novgorod Veliky means the ‘Great New City’, despite it being one of the oldest cities in Russia. It was first mentioned in Russian chronicles under the year of 859, but archaeological evidence suggests it dates from at least the 8th century. It served as the first capital of Rus before Kiev, and in later centuries it became the centre of a powerful, independent, semi-democratic republic. Its wealth meant it was often fought over by neighbouring principalities, but it was once and for all conquered and absorbed by Moscow in the 15th century. Its rich history is reflected in the many old buildings which have been preserved here, most famously the kremlin (known as the Detinets), but also lots of churches and monasteries. In fact its historical centre has been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All in all this city is a must for all Russian history fans. Novgorod is also conveniently located in between Moscow and St Petersburg.