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Pskov: spiritual origins of Russia

Pskov is a monument of ancient Russian architecture with a history of two thousand years! This city saved Rus repeatedly from enemy invasions. The traditions of the Russian culture were preserved in the walls of the ancient Pskov Kremlin in the most difficult times. In each temple one can see the works of the masters of the unique Pskov school of architecture and icon painting. And the magnificent frescoes of the Transfiguration Cathedral of the Mirozhsky Monastery are a real treasure of the world culture. People go to Pskov to visit the places where Princess Olga and her grandson, Rus baptizer — Prince Vladimir, were born, as well as to visit the Mikhailovskoye estate, where the great Russian poet A.S. Pushkin lived and worked.

For the first time Pskov was mentioned in the annals of 903, but the ancient Slavs lived on this land already in the IX century! According to a legend, the city was founded by the wife of Prince Igor, Princess Olga: the wooden Holy Trinity Cathedral was built at the place of a vision, «where three rays were coming from the sky». Hence the city of Pleskov began, which later became known as Pskov, after the name of the Pskova River. Till the beginning of the XII century the city was part of the Old Russian state, later — of the Novgorod land, and more later it separated from Novgorod and became the capital of the Pskov Republic. At the beginning of the XVI century Pskov joined the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Since that time for 200 years till the formation of St. Petersburg it played a dominant role in defense and trade in the west of Russia, and was one of the most prominent cities in Europe.

Five defensive rings, three of which have survived to this day, have turned Pskov into an impregnable fortress, and the white-stone Kremlin served as the center of public life. And today its powerful stone walls, massive towers, each of which has its own history, as well as the magnificent Trinity Cathedral surprise us.

Over the three years of occupation during the Great Patriotic War the city was badly damaged. After the war Pskov was included in the list of the cities which should be restored as soon as possible. A special Moscow commission of architects and historians created a plan for the reconstruction of historical monuments. Pskov had to be turned into a city-museum. First, they started restoration of ancient temples. Once Pskov was called the city of «thousand churches»: wherever one looked, he saw a church. And till now people come here to wander through the old streets and worship the holy places. Today the city is adorned with more than forty churches, most of which are in operation. Many of the ancient temples of Pskov are included in the list of cultural heritage of Russia. And among the most famous monasteries is the Holy Dormition Pskovo-Pechersky (Pskov Caves) Monastery — one of the largest Orthodox monasteries with the cave church of the Assumption of the Mother of God. The monastery has never been closed for all 550 years of its history. Pilgrims and tourists also come to Mirozhsky and Snetogorsky monasteries. The Svyatogorsky Monastery of the Holy Assumption, in which the family burial vault of the Pushkins family is located, should be also visited. It is here that the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin is buried.

In addition to temples and monasteries in Pskov, one also can look into V.I.Lenin house-museum: it is arranged in a house where it was decided to release the party newspaper Iskra. A walk along the embankment of the Velikaya River will also leave warm memories. There are always anglers here. They catch bream, roach, ruff and pike. And it reminds us that the main product in the city has always been fish caught in the rivers and lakes of the Pskov region. And today in the restaurants of the city one can taste kulebyaka with fish (Russian pie filled with salmon or sturgeon, rice and mushrooms), pike patties, ukha made of three varieties of fish and even dumplings with pike. And, of course, it is easy to find a typical Russian food, simple and tasty. For example, sauerkraut with apples and cranberries, salted milk mushrooms, mushroom soup, pancakes with cranberries or red berries wiped with sugar.

While in Pskov, it is worthwhile to schedule a separate time for a visit to the Mikhailovskoye Museum-Reserve. It is located about a hundred kilometers from the city and is loved in Russia because the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin lived and worked in this estate. The estate is surrounded by several other estates, in which the poet’s friends lived. Only when one visits this place, he can you feel where Pushkin’s poetry was born, see those landscapes that he described in his poems and feel the Russian nature. Every summer at the beginning of June the Pushkin Festival of Poetry awaits guests at the Mikhailovskoye Museum-Reserve, which gathers famous actors and writers here. Within the framework of the holiday one can take a walk through the craft fair and taste popular Russian cuisine. And the youngest guests of the festival always meet here heroes of Pushkin’s fairy tales.

Among other interesting holidays, we note the Medoviy Spas: it comes to Pskov in August together with the honey festival, where one can choose sweet-smelling honey and sweet honeycombs from the best beekeepers of the Pskov land. At the Pskov Blacksmith Festival «Skobar Day» in January the forge masters conduct master classes where one can forge a horseshoe for memory: after all, the traditional folk craft of Pskov was hand forging. Earlier the Pskov forged items were known throughout Russia, and even Tsar Peter the Great, who used to easily bend a horseshoe, could not unbend the staple forged by the Pskov blacksmiths.

Pskov is a cozy and ancient city. Its Kremlin, monasteries and temples will certainly make an unforgettable impression, and local souvenirs in the form of forged candlesticks, clay mugs, pots and whistles will remind you of the ancient Russian land and its craftsmen for a long time.

Get directions

One can go to Pskov by plane from Moscow and St. Petersburg. Trains run to Pskov from Moscow (trip time 12 hours), St. Petersburg (5 hours), as well as from Vilnius, Minsk, Novgorod. A public bus connects Pskov to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Vitebsk.

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Отели города Pskov