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Contiki Russia Plus: Day 8 – Novgorod, Russia

We arrived in Novgorod in the late afternoon after a full day of driving through the Russian countryside.  Shortly after we arrived, we met up with our local guide and walked around the small town.  It was a very pretty, quaint town that reminded me of suburban America.  There was grass everywhere!  The only difference was the fact that there were a lot of Byzantine churches!

After a short walk from our hotel, we came across Yaroslav’s Court.  This was the main political & trading center of ancient Novgorod and was where many citizen’s assembly meetings were held.

Church of St. Nicholas

Church of Paraskevy Piatnitsy of Yaroslavovo Dvorishche

We continued to walk until we came across a wide walkway which led us across the Volkov River into the historical center of Novgorod, the Kremlin.  There were numerous churches and monuments to the past scattered throughout the historical center.  We learned that the city reached its prime in the 1100’s when it was a trade hub of eastern Europe.  In the 1200’s, the city was almost constantly at war with the Swedish, Danish, or Germans, but the city’s downfall is believed to have been caused by a food shortage.  Novgorod became dependent on Moscow for grain & was eventually annexed by the Grand Duchy of Moscow in the late 1400’s.  The city changed hands a few more times, but was never able to reestablish itself as a dominant power.

St. Sophia Cathedral

The Millennium of Russia Monument

After our tour, we went back to our hotel for dinner before we met up with the English Club of Novgorod.  The town had a very young demographic, so there were a lot of university students that meet up with the tour groups to practice their English.  They brought us to a boat that turns into a club every night, so they could practice English while showing us what their town has to offer.

The evening was amazing & the views of the sunset from the boat were out of this world.  It was a great way to spend our only night in Novgorod, but I wish we had more time in the beautiful town!

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