Near Saint Petersburg – two days in Veliky Novgorod – a sunny Sunday

In June 2017, we spend a weekend in Novgorod. On Saturday, we saw the cathedral of Saint Sophia, the Intercession Church and the market place. Then we relaxed going for a boat ride on the river Volkhov. We slept well in our luxury hotel room and, on Sunday morning, we wake up to spend another sunny day in Novgorod.

Before breakfast we visit some more churches north of the Kremlin of Novgorod. Our first church is the Peter and Paul Church in Kozhneviki  (Церковь Петра и Павла в Кожневиках) from the 15th century.

Next we enter a complex that looks like a small monastery offering workshops. The church here is called Church of Simeon the Godbearer (Церковь Симеона Богоприимца, 1468). I meet a man who proudly tells me the story of Simeon the Godbearer. Saint Simeon was in the process of translating the old testament. The Prophet Isaia says that a virgin will have a son. A virgin? No, this cannot be! He is about to replace “virgin” by “woman”. But an angel comes and tells him that “virgin” is correct and that he will only die, when he holds Christ in his arms, as born from a virgin.” It is said that Simeon lived until the age of 360 years, until he was able to take Christ on to his arms and verify, the mother WAS a virgin. (See also wikpedia)

In the Sverinj Monastery we find the Church of Intercession or Покровская (Maria Schutzkirche). A service is going on inside and we attend it for a while. The white church to the right with the black dome is called Church of the White Saint Nicolas.

In the monastery we find a monument for Patriarch Alex II. He was the first patriarch after the fall of the Soviet Union. He says: “Do not allow to sow the seed of hatred in your souls.” Beautiful.

After breakfast we take the bus to the south of Novgorod to visit the Juriev monastery (Юрьев монастырь). It has been founded in the early 12th century (by Jaroslaw the Wise). The eyecatcher is this Cross Exaltation Cathedral from the late 18th century with the blue roof and the golden stars.

The gem of this monastery is the Juriev Church from 1119…

… with the (restored) Pantokrator in the main dome – high up in heaven.

Our next destination is the Vitoslavlitsi museum (Витославлицы), some 500m away from the Juriev monastery. On the way we catch this view of a wooden church tower across the ponds.

Inside the museum we find a collection of restored wooden churches and farmers’ houses. This is an example of a farm house with a traditionally dressed woman hurrying by.

The State Novgorod Museum rounds off our two days in Novgorod. It has a large collection of artefacts related to the history of Novgorod. We are very impressed by the many manuscripts written on birch bark (берестяные грамоты) from the 11th to the 15th century. About 1000 such manuscripts have been found in and around Novgorod.

Novgorod was a powerful republic until being conquered by Moscow in the end of the 15th century. It had its own school of icon painting and the museum has many of those icons on display. This is the defeat of the aggressors from Suzdal that started to flee, when the Novgorodians showed the icon of holy Mary (our Lady of the Sign) on their town wall (the miracle is reported to have happened in the 12th century).

Ursula likes the archangel with the golden locks from around 1200. The icon is from Novgorod, but, if I understand correctly, this is a copy and the original is on display in the Russian Museum of Saint Petersburg.

We finish off our museum tour in the room that displays artefacts carved in wood, like this beautiful orthodox cross.

The Novgorod State Museum has a heart for kids. In the entrance hall we find a picture gallery…

… and a table with material that make artists out of kids that are forced to wait for their parents.

Perhaps one day the Novgorod State Museum will open up a room for the best artefacts created by kids.

We look back to the Saint Sophia Cathedral and the monument that shows all the important men and women that by the middle of the 19th century had shaped Russia during 1000 years.

At 18:05 precisely. our Elektritschka (suburban train) leaves for Saint Petersburg. We are amidst all the Russians that return from their datscha weekends.

The sky covers with dark clouds and by the time we arrive in Saint Petersburg, it is pouring with rain. One of these Saint Petersburg rainfalls that make everyone wet-through within five minutes. We walk in the metro UNDER the Sennaja Ploschtschad, until we reach the metro exit that is closest to our apartment. Nevertheless, at home we have to hang up our trousers and jackets, while the umbrellas land directly in the bath tube. Fortunately I always wear waterproof Goretex shoes for sightseeing.

Novgorod was worth visiting and two days are not enough to see everything. Will I go back one day and also continue to Staraja Rossija, where Dostojewsky lived for a while?


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