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The Kremlin

The Kremlin (city fortress) was an integral part of any old Russian town and Novgorod was no exception. The city's kremlin had always been its core determining the city structure and layout. The Novgorod Kremlin or "detinets", as it was called in the old days, carried out the combined functions of an administrative, social and religious center. All major events were held in the Kremlin, including the veche assembly and elections of the posadnik; it was from the Kremlin that Alexander Nevsky's armed troops set out for the battle with the Swedes; the walls of the Kremlin defended the city's main cathedral of St. Sophia and the residence of Novgorodian archbishops; the learned men of the land gathered there to keep the chronicles, to collect and copy ancient books.

It is best to start a tour of the Kremlin by approaching the Volkhov River from the side of lake Ilmen. The outlines of red-brick turrets and walls of the fortress, built in the 10th century, which had acquired the name Noviy gorod or Novgorod (New Town) in contrast to the old town, called Gorodische, can be seen from far away. The Kremlin, which looks amazingly beautiful in any weather, seems to be floating above the modern city, resembling the legendary Kitezh-grad, which had once emerged from the depths of the sea. The melodious tolling of bells resounding across the water for dozens of kilometers, completes this truly dreamlike picture. As one approaches the walls, more details come into view, such as the narrow turrets and merlons as well as the most ancient and comparatively new buildings.

A street runs through the Kremlin. As in medieval times this road still connects the Sophia side with the Marketplace side. The Eastern Arch offers a good view of the Yaroslav Courtyard (Dvorische) and the Antoniev Monastery, and in fine weather even the Rurik gorodische and the Yuriev monastery bell-tower can be seen. An impressive view of the city and outskirts opens from the 34-meter-tall lookout tower, which in the beginning of the 19th century acquired the strange name of "Kokuy." The lands lying to the South of the city have preserved their original landscapes nearly intact. The mighty Volkhov River moves slowly from Lake Ilmen as it did a thousand years ago, its tributaries washing over numerous islands, completely concealed by tall grass. The Varagians named this place Holmgard, the land of islands.

Nowadays the Kremlin is a cultural and tourist center. The main museum expositions, its storage and restoration workshops are located here. The Kremlin houses a library, a philharmonic society, an art school, restaurants and cafes. The Kremlin is built in such a unique way that touring it is a pleasant and fascinating affair.

Fortress Works
St. Sophia Cathedral
Vladychnaya (Granovitaya) Palata
Church of Sergey of Radonezh and the Clock Ringer
Church of St. Andrew Stratilates
Building of the Former Public Offices

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