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Discover Ladoga
February 5, 2015 23:51



The views of Staraya Ladoga from Malysheva mountain or from the Plakun Area belong to canonical ones – like views of Strelka from Troitskiy Bridge in St. Petersburg, from Zheravya mountain in Izborsk, or of Rostov Kremlin from the Nero Lake. An aesthetically perfect silhouette of the ancient town without any excessive details is seen along the left bank of the Volkhov River (it is as wide here as Neva at Petropavolvskaya Fortress).

There is no such Kremlin in Pskov or in Novgorod where the Soviet civilization shamelessly disturbed the panoramas of Kremlins and church domes. The paradigm of Vasiliy Klyuchevskiy “Russia is the country of forest and large slow rivers” becomes surprisingly visible in Staraya Ladoga. People have settled here since the Neolithic times.

The Scandinavian outpost Aldelgya appeared at the confluence of the Rivers Volkhov and Ladozhka (Alode-jogi means “lower river” in Finnish) in the early Middle Ages, later it evolved into Aldeygyuborg (borg means “fortress” in Swedish) and only after that into Russian Ladoga.

“Varangian guests” represented, speaking the modern language, a certain mix of racketeers and shuttle traders. They built their towns for storing their prey and receiving furs from Finnish and Slavic tributaries on the banks of Volkhov, Lovat, Dnepr, Volga, for having rest in the middle of the long road to Constantinople - to the Greeks. Criminals strived for legalization in all times. Rurik became the first Prince of the Northern Russia, the Normans quickly mixed with the natives. Ladoga was the capital of the Slavic-Varangian state, the precursor of the modern Russia, in VIII-IX centuries.

Rurik reigned and the Prophetic Oleg was buried here, at the confluence of Volkhov and Ladozhka. According to the chronicle story known to us by the Pushkin’s ballad, it was here, on the banks of the Volkhov River, where he was bitten by the snake that crawled out of the skull of his beloved horse that had deceased. Ladoga played a role of a pre-Petersburg for several centuries, an administrative centre of Russia moved to the periphery and was a window to Europe. The first stone castle in Russia was built in Ladoga, six stone cathedrals were built here in pre-Mongol period (two of them have survived).

After the emergence and rise of Novgorod and Kiev Ladoga gradually lost its capital status. Until the time of Peter I, however, it remained a large town with six monasteries, a fortress, numerous churches. In 1704 its inhabitants mostly resettled to Novaya Ladoga, and the town turned into a small fishing village. Even today Staraya Ladoga is not inferior to any of the most famous towns of the Golden Ring in quantity and quality of the preserved antiquities, besides, it is located within two hours’ drive of St. Petersburg.

Places Of Interest

Places of attraction stretched on the left side of the highway connecting New Ladoga with Volkhov. The first of these is the famous Sopki area on the river cape. The Prophetic Oleg probably was buried under one of the local mounds.

A magnificent view on Staraya Ladoga monasteries and fortresses along the river opens from this area. Further goes the church cemetery with Alekseevskaya Church of Pushkin time and the functional church of John the Baptist built in 1695. Behind them stands the former Uspenskiy Monastery with the pre-Mongol Assumption Church and a complex of buildings of mid-XIX century - a stone wall with towers, private rooms, laundry and hospital buildings, a cart house and a  laundry (architects Aleksey and Ivan Gornostaevy were the builders of Valaam, Troitse-Sergieva Desert, Helsinki Cathedral).

The main building in Staraya Ladoga is the pentagonal stone fortress whose walls are restored to their state as of for the end of XVII century. Four towers are preserved - Raskatnaya, Klimentovskaya, Strelochnaya and Vorotnaya (with museum exhibition).

The castle contains St. George's Church built in 1165 with fragments of pre-Mongolian frescoes, including the famous “Miracle of St. George and the Dragon”. The wooden church of Dmitry Solunskiy (replica of the church of the times of Aleksei Mikhailovich made during the reign of Nikolai II) has a small museum of peasant’s way of life. Nikolskiy Monastery with the eponymous cathedral of XVII century, the Church of St. John Chrysostom built by Aleksandr Gornostaev’s project and a complex private buildings of XVIII century, are situated to the South. A historical, architectural and archaeological reserve has formally existed here for 20 years. Still, the orphanage for mentally challenged children in the buildings of the Dormition Monastery where Evdokia Lopukhina, the first wife of Peter the Great, languished in prison for 7 years, is a heartbreaking sight. The locals who worked at the farm are in prostration now, that is why a drunken man is an indispensable part of the landscape. The traces of contentment and labour are absent in the urban settlement of Staraya Ladoga , only a snack bar with port wine, “Ladya” cafe made from the farm’s dining room, and a meager regional museum are present. Meanwhile, Staraya Ladoga is surrounded by attractions.

The town of Novaya Ladoga founded by Peter the Great is situated 12 km to the North. The main street is of Novaya Ladoga  is called Karla Marksa Prospect (previously known as Nikolaevskiy Prospect) , it continues the highway from St. Petersburg, stretches along Volkhov and stops at the complex of the deleted Nikolo-Medvedskiy Monastery.

A cemetery with merchants’ gravestones of the early twentieth century and two cathedrals are preserved here. The functional Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin was built in XV century and rebuilt in 1867 for the last time; interesting naive frescoes by local painters can also be found here.

Nikolskiy Cathedral (XV century, rebuilt in 1812) is situated nearby, it has a spiral staircase that led to the icon of Saint Nicholas, but now it doesn’t, because the icon has been stolen recently. Back along the Prospect towards Petersburg you can see a complex of the two churches of the XVIII century – Klimentovskaya of Anninskii time (with an interesting hexagonal belfry crowned with a helmet-like dome) and the Church of Vernicle – of Elizabethan time. The shopping arcade built in 1840s is even closer to Petersburg.

A lot of of pre-revolutionary buildings, mostly one-storey stone merchant mansions with mezzanines and two-storey official buildings are situated along the avenue, on Pesochnaya Street and on the embankment of Petrovskiy canal. The house of the merchant Timofeev on Pionerskaya Street hosts the cozy regional museum with a curious collection of household items. The barracks of Suzdal Regiment commanded by the future famous generalissimo are located on Suvorov Street.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Ladoga     

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