Novgorod: The Birthplace of Russia

While the general public is very much aware of Moscow, as the capital of the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Union, and of St. Petersburg, the most European and Imperial of all Russian cities, few know the history, vastness, and grandeur of the early Russian people.

Russia in all its greatness started as a small city in the patch of land directly between Moscow and St. Petersburg; the city known as Novgorod.

* It was my great pleasure and honor to be able to visit and explore the Cradle of Russian Civilization.

* The Novgorod Republic was a medieval East Slavic state that stretched from the Gulf of Finland in the West, all the way to the Ural Mountains in the East (an area now located somewhere in the middle of Russia).

* And like most great Russian cities, all of Novgorod's power and might was centered in its fortification complex known as the Kremlin (seen here with its formidable walls still standing to this day).

* Culturally, Novgorod was heavily influenced by trade with the Viking States (Norway and Sweden), Baltics (now Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), and Byzantines (now Turkey) from where Orthodox Christianity spread to become the city's main religion.

* Historically, various kingdoms came to be associated with Novgorod: including the Kievan Rus (with its base in the current Ukraine), the Mongol Horde (who conquered much of the current Russian Federation and former satellite states of the USSR), and the Muscovite Rus (with its base in the current Moscow); all of whom laid the groundwork for what was to become the great Russian civilization.

* The Cathedral of St. Sophia is the seat of power of the Archbishop of Novgorod and mother church of the Novgorodian Eparchy, part of the Russian Orthodox Church.

* Within the Kremlin grounds, one can also find the War Memorial of the Eternal Flame.

* As well as the most magnificent of bronze monuments known as the Millennium of Russia!

* Built in 1862, the monument celebrates one thousand years of Russian civilization with over a hundred sculptures of prominent Russian monarchs, generals, clerics, and artists throughout various period of their proud history.

* All rulers throughout Russia's long history are featured in the monument, including monarchs who reigned over the Eastern Slavs (today's Ukraine and Belarus, both historically considered part of Russian civilization).

* The only exception is the missing Ivan the Terrible, who is infamous specifically in Novgorod for having ordered the pillage and massacre of the city's inhabitants in 1570.

* It does not get any more epic than this!

* Dad experiencing a culture-high as I did.

* Cue "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica

* This way to the Volkhov River! 

* Outside the Kremlin Walls; a glimpse of ordinary Russian life.

* With its fancy Russian carriages!

* Traditional Russian architecture sure is something else! Like something out of Legend of Zelda.

* The parental units having a blast!

* The contrast. Directly across the Kremlin stands this rather serious looking government building which formerly served as the headquarters of the Communist Party.

* I wonder how many dolls are inside this giant Matryoshka! 

* Photo wall of famous Russian companies including the only one I'm familiar with, Tetris.

* Dinner tonight is at a log cabin offering traditional Russian cuisine.

* Buffet time, comrades!

* One of the stops on our journey between St. Petersburg and Moscow.

* With this masterfully made diorama (of which I am a HUGE fan)

* Rolling through the Russian plains on our trusted steed, just like in the old days.


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