Veliky Novgorod, one of the oldest towns in Russia, is located on the place where the Volkhov River flows out of Ilmen Lake. Novgorod appeared as a political centre of Slavic and Finnish tribes in the 9th century. For a long time Novgorod was a political centre that controlled the Russian territory from the Baltic and Finland in the west to the northern Urals in the east. It was one of the largest trade centres at the intersection of the trade routs between the Baltic and the Volga.
A special way of life, spiritual freedom and territorial autonomy contributed to the development of arts and culture. Here one can see a unique masterpieces of the Old Russian architecture of the 11 -17th centuries. Many of them are situated in the Novgorod Kremlin erected in 1044. The oldest stone building of Russia is St. Sophia’s Cathedral (the Holy Wisdom of God). The interior decor of the cathedral – its icon stand, works of ancient Russian fine art and other monuments of Byzantine, European and Russian art. The Granovitaya Chamber, a rare monument of Gothic architecture, which was built in 1433 with the help of German craftsmen, and the Sophia Belfry (1439) with bells of the 16- 17th centuries deserve special attention.
To the south of Novgorod, on the left bank of the Volkhov, the Yuriev Monastery with the magnificent George’s Cathedral is situated. Near the monastery, the open-air “Vitoslavitsy”Museum of wooden structures from Novgorod Region is situated.