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The Most Ancient Cities of Russia, Part 2
November 30, 2014 17:25

Previous: The Most Ancient Cities of Russia, Part 1

Veliky Novgorod 
 
It is a more ambitious version about the oldest city of Russia. Veliky Novgorod is also considered to be the most ancient Russian city. At least, all of its dwellers think so. 
 
Veliky Novgorod was founded in 859. The grand city standing on the never freezing Volkhov River was the primogenitor of Christianity in Old Russia. After Kiev enthronement of Prince Vladimir, the princely power made Christianity the official state religion in Veliky Novgorod without any effort. 
 
At the end of the 10th century a 13-domed wooden church of the Church of Hagia Sophia was built here. This unusually big number of domes reflected the traditional cosmovision of Novgorod residents associated with pagan pre-Christian cults earlier predominant there.
 
Anyway, the adoption of Christian religion turned Veliky Novgorod into the spiritual center of Russia. Novgorodians’ merits on development and protection of the Christian Orthodoxy in the mid 12th century were distinguished with elevation of some of its rulers into the rank of archbishop. This is how Veliky Novgorod episcopal chair became the most important one in the Orthodox Church of Russia. The Veliky Novgorod Kremlin and architecture monuments that witnessed the governors of the early period of the Russian state are imbued with the atmosphere of antiquity. 
 
The fact that Veliky Novgorod has always been a Russian city counts in favor of this version. Besides, it has the definite starting point of chronology unlike the indistinct date of Derbent foundation. 
 
  
Staraya Ladoga (Leningrad Region)
 
One more version that most of historians tend to support is about Staraya Ladoga. However, it is just a settlement now, though it was a city till 1703. 
 
In 2003 Staraya Ladoga marked its 1250th anniversary, when the settlement was titled “the ancient capital of Northern Russia”.
 
The city was first recorded in the middle of the 13th century. Staraya Ladoga even has tombstones dated back to 921. The settlement still harbours the church, in which Rurik’s descendants were baptized, as the legend goes. 
 
Staraya Ladoga appeared on the place of the hardest rift that was on the important Varangian trade way to Volkhov, at the confluence of Lakes Ilmen and Ladoga. It happened in the 8th century. Historians do not know the exact date of its foundation, but according to archaeological research it happened not later than in 753.
 
Already in the 9th -11th centuries Staraya Ladoga was the port city, where various ethnic cultures, such as the Slavs, Finns and Scandinavians contacted. Merchant caravans were gathered in the area of the modern city and brisk trade took place. 
 
Staraya Ladoga was for the first time recorded in chronicles in 862 in top ten of the most ancient cities of Russia.  
 
Staraya Maina (Ulyanovsk Region)
 
The urban township of Staraya Maina might be recognized as one of the most ancient settlements of Russia. Results of the recent archaeological expedition support this.
 
It was earlier believed that the settlement was founded in 1670. It was built as a fortress for defending the boundaries of Russian lands. However, this data should probably be revised.
 
 
The head of the expedition Alexander Kozhevin, the adviser to the chief of the Russian Commission of Culture Preservation for the Volga Federal District, the senior teacher of the Ulyanovsk State University claims that Staraya Maina has continuously existed since the 4th century! It means that the township is not less than 1700 years old!



Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Veliky Novgorod Staraya Ladoga Staraya Maina   

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