Izborsk - uVisitRussia


Located in the western Russian region of Pskov near the border with Estonia, Izborsk Fortress has survived for over 1,500 years and is one of the most ancient Russian towns, mentioned in chronicles as early as 862. Along with its environs, it is a unique example of concentration of a large number of archaeological sites, and architectural structures dating to various periods of the 1,500-year long history of ethnographic culture in unbreakable integrity of the historical and landscape complex which has maintained its continuous development up to these days.

Izborsk is a rural locality (village) in Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast, Russia. It contains one of the most ancient and impressive fortresses of Western Russia. The village lies 30 kilometers (19 mi) to the west of Pskov and just to the east of the Russian-Estonian border.


According to the Russian Primary Chronicle, the town was the seat of Rurik's brother Truvor from 862-864. Although his burial mound is still shown to occasional tourists, archaeological excavations of long barrows abounding in the vicinity did not reveal the presence of the Varangian settlement at the site, indicating that Izborsk was an important centre of the early Krivichs.
The next mention of the town in Slavonic chronicles dates back to 1233, when the place was captured by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. Pskov moved the fortress to a more convenient site in 1302.
In 1348 Pskov feudal republic that included Izborsk separates from Novgorod Republic, in 1399 becomes a viceroyalty of Muscovy, and later in 1510 annexed to the latter.

Inside the fortress of IzborskIn the later 16th century, Izborsk was one of the smaller, but nonetheless strategically important fortresses that protected the northwest Russian borders from invasion. The fortress was supposed to be impregnable, which is why the seizure of it in 1569 by a small Lithuanian regiment came as such a shock to the then ruler, Ivan the Terrible. The relative ease and suspicious circumstances of the seizure of the fortress deeply troubled the already paranoid Ivan. In the dead of night Teterin, a Russian turncoat disguised as an oprichnik, ordered the gates of the town be opened in the name of the oprichnina, thus allowing the enemy regiment to enter and overtake the fortress (the town of Izborsk, however, was never listed as territory where oprichnina governance applied).
Though Ivan managed to retake the city with little difficulty, the treachery and conspiracy involved in the original seizure led him to order the executions of the assistant crown secretaries of Izborsk, as well as the secretaries of the surrounding fortresses. With rumors of disaffection and growing discontent throughout the country on the rise, Ivan feared that other cities would soon follow the treasonous example of Izborsk. The proximity of the town to the cities of Novgorod and Pskov, coupled with the questionable implication of Novgorod's chancery administration in Teterin's plot, threw suspicion of treachery and defection onto the already distrusted city.[1]
During the siege of Pskov (1581) Izborsk was captured by the Lithuanian troops, but after the Truce of Yam-Zapolsky (1582) handed over to the Muscovy.
After the Great Northern War Izborsk ceased to be a western borderline fortress of Russian state. In 1708 it joined the newly-established Governorate of Saint-Petersburg (until 1710 called Ingermanland Governorate), where it was listed as the centre of uyezd within the Pskov province. In 1727 the whole Pskov province was transferred to the Novgorod Governorate, and later transformed into a part of the larger Pskov Governorate, where Izborsk was listed as a town until 1920.
In 1920, according to the Treaty of Tartu, the Russian-Estonian state boundary went eastwards of Izborsk and thus the town became part of Estonia. During 1940-1945 the town remained within the Estonian SSR (1941-1944 under Nazi occupation).
In 1945 Russian SFSR/Estonian SSR border was redefined to resemble the pre-1918 borders between the Livonia and Pskov Governorate, leaving Izborsk with the Pskov Oblast of the Russian SFSR, now Russian Federation.