Millennium of Russia, with St Sophia Cathedral in the background

The Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings are a veritable 'conservatory' of Russian architecture of the Middle Ages and later periods (11th-19th centuries).

(Veliky) Novgorod in North-Western Russia was an important center on the trade route between the Baltics and Central Asia. It developed into one of the major centres of Russian culture and spirituality.

A broad range of monuments has been conserved:

- St Sophia Cathedral, built between 1045 and 1050 the first one to represent original features of Russian architecture (austere stone walls, five helmet-like cupolas).

- The Novgorod Kremlin, traditionally known as the Detinets, also contains the oldest palace in Russia.

- Church of the Transfiguration, decorated with frescoes at the end of the 14th century by Theophanes the Greek

- Church of Neredica


Community Reviews

Frederik Dawson - February 2012

Novgorod or it full official name, Veliky Novgorod which means the Great Novgorod, is an oldest city in Russia and the ancient political center of early Russian state, is well located in the middle of popular tourist route of Moscow and St. Petersburg. To reach Novgorod, I took a night train from Moscow. The train was arrived in early morning; the whole town of Novgorod was still sleeping when I reached the city center. After few directions confusing, I finally saw the large red wall complex of the ancient Novgorod Kremlin. The towers along the wall were fascinating with fairytales-like turret and in a very good condition. Inside the wall, there was a large square with big monument named 'The Millennium of Russia' the monument was full of details of important historical event of this country.

Apart from the monument, there were church and palace complexes inside the Kremlin, but all of them were closed during my visit. Nothing to do I just walked around the complex, I found a group of bells in front of one church was quite astonishing with their large size, and wondered why they were here on the ground. Then I walked around the Kremlin wall, admittedly that I really enjoyed the wall more than the Kremlin inside, the color of the wall and its proportion was just right and really photogenic. Then I went to see the riverside, there was a large monastery on the other side of the river. Before I decided to cross the river, there was a sudden really heavy snow, so I had to walk back to Kremlin to find shelter. After seeing Kremlin covered in thick snow, my friend and I decided that we should went back to the train station as the weather was bad to linger on in Novgorod. A local recommended us to use the bus instead of the train, so we went to bus station and took a next bus to St. Petersburg. It was only 3 hours I spent in Novgorod; it was a very quick visit and full of obstacles, but quite enjoyable trip.

However Novgorod Kremlin cannot be compared with Moscow Kremlin in any sense, the complex exterior was quite simple and plain with no extravaganza decoration similar to Moscow. Also Novgorod Kremlin was lack of charm or atmosphere compared with other plain Kremlin in Rostov or Pskov. The historical value of Novgorod was the reason to visit the place, but if you are not a Russian history enthusiast or World Heritage Site seeker, there are other better places to see beautiful Russia than Novgorod.

Larry Perkins - December 2009

My wife and I went on a day trip from St. Petersburg to Novgorod. Getting there was eventful because of the stern scrutiny we got from the immigration officials on leaving the cruise ship and a lack of public restroom facilities. Our tour guide finally begged the owner of a small restaurant to let us use their outhouse. Once in Novgorod we were able to walk around the old market area and churches where the old open air market stood. Much of the area was damaged in World War II and the churches are still ruins. We walked over the Volkhov River bridge to the walled fortress/kremlin which is wonderfully restored. Ancient St Sophia cathedral was a fascinating church, one of the oldest in Russia. There is a very somber commemorative section of the kremlin park for the millions who lost their lives in World War II. We enjoyed lunch at a restuarant in one of the old fortress towers and shopped in the street market just outside the main gate. Getting rubles was tricky, since there were no foreign tourist facilities we could see. People were friendly, and we enjoyed our day there. We also drove out to Yuriev Monastery and visited the cultural historic park nearby where we saw 15 or 20 wooden buildings which have been moved to the site. People dressed in traditional costumes demonstrated traditional crafts and visited with Russian tourists, though none of them spoke English, except to say hello. The wooden church tower bells rang out as we were leaving. This was our only chance to see Russia outside large cities. We would definitely recommend a visit to Veliky (Great) Novgorod.

Christer Sundberg - May 2006

Buying a train ticket in Russia is an adventure in itself…. have I found the right counter? Will they understand English? Will they rip me off? Will the ticket be correct? But with some assistance from the locals and a smile - which must be something added after the Soviet Union collapsed - I eventually got my ticket to Novgorod the Great, 200 km south of St.Petersburg, and hoped on the fully booked train for some three-and-a-half hour travel through the marchlands on tracks that certainly seen their best days.

Tourists do end up in Novgorod, but usually just for a short visit on a day trip between Russia’s main attractions Moscow and St.Petersburg. But there is still much to see in this historic town and Russia’s first capital. Walking outside and inside the old Kremlin is certainly not the same experience as in Moscow but with combined visits to the impressing Yurev Monastery and the Museum of Wooden Houses outside the city, and maybe a slow stroll along the river Volkov, Novgorod the Great still has a charm of it’s own and one can just imagine how life would have been here over 1000 years ago when it was founded.

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Site Info

Full name: Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings

Site History

  • 1992 - Inscribed

    Reasons for inscription
  • 1991 - Deferred

    By Bureau, and not discussed by WHC that year: reformulation of the title requested, to "Historic Monuments of Novgorod" from "Historic Centre of Novgorod".


The site has 11 locations. Show all

  • Churches on Miachino Lake: St John the Alms Giver Church and the Resurrection Church Novgorod, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • Historic Centre of Novgorod (east) with the Yaroslav's Court Cluster and Our Lady of the Sign Monastery Novgorod, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • Historic Centre of Novgorod (west) and the Novgorod Kremlin Novgorod, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • Peryn Monastery Novgorod, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • Remains of the Annunciation Church at Gorodishche Gorodishche, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • St Anthony Monastery Novgorod, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • Sts Peter and Paul Church on Silnishche Silnishche, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • The Church of Our Saviour at Nereditsa Nereditsa, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • The Nativity of Christ Church in the Field Novgorod, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • Yuriev Monastery Novgorod, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation
  • Zverin Monastery and its environs Novgorod, Oblast and District of Novgorod, Russian Federation


The site has 17 connections.


  • Gold Surfaces Golden dome of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod




  • Golden Horde "It was through talks with the Golden Horde that Alexander Nevsky prevented a Mongol raid on Novgorod."
  • Hanseatic League Principal Kontore (foreign trading post)
  • Treaties Treaty of Novgorod (1557) end Russo-Swedish War (1554-1557)

Human Activity

Individual People

Religion and Belief


  • Built in the 11th century "veritable "conservatory" of Russian architecture of the Middle Ages and later periods (llth-19th centuries)" (AB ev); St. Sophia Cathedral is from 1045-1050


WHS on Other Lists

  • Memory of the World Ostromir Gospel (2011) - it was created as a donation to St. Sophia's, the new church of Novgorod, where it remained for several centuries until its removal to Moscow (it is now in St. Petersburg)