Izborsk Fortress is one of the most ancient and impressive fortresses of Western Russia!
The Izborsk fortress, as everything large, is seen at a distance: the farther you leave it, the more impressive, higher and more inaccessible it looks. If you look from afar, the fortress on Zheravya ("Crane") mountain seems to be a continuation of the rocky massif - a powerful, harsh mass. It is all the more surprising to approach her from the side of the village.
The ancient road to the fortress leads to the Nikolsky Gate, located in the south-eastern part of the wall. As we approach the gate, bewilderment grows: the fortress walls are, of course, high, but they do not look completely impregnable. It is hard to believe that the Izborsk fortress withstood about twenty serious sieges and was never taken by the enemy.
In the fortress itself, first of all, the towers are impressive, and not the building as a whole. Moreover, the inner space of the citadel seems rather deserted. To the right of Nikolsky Gate is the main shrine of Izborsk - Nikolsky Cathedral of the XIV century. He stands at the southern wall, not in the center of the fortress, that is, just as it stood on the Truvor's ancient settlement. Izborians did not like to change the traditions. True, the St. Nicholas Cathedral was already the center not only of the fortress, but also of the tenements that stretched beyond its walls, as well as the whole neighborhood of the “St. Nicholas' house”.
Other ancient buildings in the fortress has not survived. This is explained by the fact that in peacetime, the Izborians did not live outside the fortress walls - they all lived in the suburbs. In the citadel there were wooden warehouses, barns, the courtyard of the governor, the court hut, the state-owned breadbasket, the Pushkar and archery cages. There was no need to build monumental buildings of stone. Therefore, it is now free in the fortress, and reenactors are happy to use this space. Some buildings, however, are available here: these are the premises of the museum. There was also an outhouse of the 19th century house, which was occupied by the community of St. Nicholas Church, but during the reconstruction, started by the 1150th anniversary of Izborsk, it was unauthorizedly demolished. At the same time, Soviet museum storage rooms, resembling ordinary country houses, have left.
The main "demonstration object" in the fortress is the Lukovka tower, located in the eastern honor. Its location is already unusual - Lukovka (it is also called Kukovka, literally, "Onion Tower") stands inside the walls, that is, it has no direct defense significance. Whether such an architectural embarrassment occurred as a result of numerous alterations of the fortress wall and the tower itself, or the builders prepared for it the role of the last fortification for the defenders of the citadel in case of the capture of the fortress by the enemy - it is not clear. Lukovka is considered the most ancient tower of Izborsk. It is known that it was erected first and rebuilt at the end of the XIV century.
Lukovka was used as a watchtower - from its platform one can see all the Izborskaya basin adjoining Zheravya mountain. From here one can see both Truvor's ancient settlement, and the valley of the Skhidnitsa River, and Gorodishchenskoye Lake. And today Lukovka serves as a viewing platform. Before you go to Truvor's ancient settlement and look at the Izborsk fortress from afar, you should definitely look around the surroundings with Lukovka. The stronger the contrast will be.
The road to the settlement and the Slovenian Keys goes around the western wall of the fortress. As the distance from it grows higher, the walls of the stronghold rush into the sky. They really seem to have grown out of the rock. There is an explanation for this: the Izborsk fortress is made of limestone, which is the main rock of the Zheravya mountain. But, unlike other types of limestone, most often having a pure white color, Pskov is much darker - it is beige-gray. On the way to the Slovenian Keys and the Truvor's ancient settlement, the outcrops of this breed are visible, more like a masonry wall than a stone.
The track gradually goes down, and a truly breathtaking panorama opens up with turning the keys. From here, the Izborsk fortress already looks like an impregnable bastion: ascetic, stern, worn down by the winds. Even the scale of the Zhereravy mountain is becoming clear, although inside the fortress it is difficult to understand how much more mountain the Truvor's ancient settlement is and why in 1330 Izborians, preoccupied with fortifying and enlarging their fortress, moved the city here.
Towers of Izborsk fortress
Lukovka. The oldest and smallest of the towers (height - 13 meters). Built in the XIV century, later rebuilt. Performed as a watchtower, arsenal, powder magazine. One day I almost blew up when there was a fire. Stone vault directly above the cellar, where they kept gunpowder, saved Lukovka.
Rjabinovka. It is considered the most picturesque tower of the fortress, in its background photographed most often. Located in the southwestern part of the fortress wall. Height - 16 meters. In the upper part of the wall connecting Ryabinovka and Vyshka, a typical Pskov ornament of triangular niches and three large crosses are laid out. It is believed that the crosses are peculiar signs: people who came to Izborsk along the Pechora road could not see the St. Nicholas Church, to which they had to cross themselves. Crosses allegedly indicated its approximate location behind the fortress wall.
Vyshka. The most powerful and highest (19 meters) tower. Located in the most vulnerable place of the fortress, the main blow of the enemy always fell upon it. Previously, the tower was even higher - on its platform was a wooden guard hut. Near Vyshka in the fortress wall was hidden secret pass. By the way, it can be seen today - the arch is visible. Previously, the pass was laid with a stone, and if necessary, a thin wall was broken and got out unexpectedly for the enemy.
Temnushka. It was named this way because there are fewer loopholes in this tower - accordingly, it is darker here than in others. It was previously thought that a dungeon could be located on the lower tier of the tower, but the prison premises, which are half dugouts, were found by archaeologists near Lukovka. Temnushka is in the southwestern part of the fortress, near the main entrance. The height of the tower is 15 meters. The main purpose is to cover the south-western part of the city.
Kolokolnaja (Bell). One of the most spectacular towers of the Izborsk fortress. It is located in the center of the southern section of the wall, on a steep mountainside, and seems to be its natural extension. The tower was named after the bell tower of St. Nicholas Cathedral, which was located here before. The belfry was dismantled in 1872: the local clergy considered it unnecessary and too dilapidated.
Talavskaya. The latest and most unusual tower. Built at the end of the XVI - the beginning of the XVI century. Of all the Izborsk towers, it is the only one that has a quadrangular shape. Talavskaya Tower is located in the northwestern corner of the wall, just above the precipice. Talavsky Zahab, protecting the gate, adjoined it. The tower received its name by the name of the keys beating nearby. The keys, according to one of the versions, are named after the Balt tribe of “tolova” who lived in the vicinity. Tolova is of Latgalian origin, that is, is one of the ethnic groups of Latvians.
Nikolsky Zahab. It is considered the most powerful and perfect element of the fortress Izborsk. Its remains have been preserved, and now the spectacular object is not just being restored, but practically being rebuilt. Zahab is a long narrow passage between the fortress and the protective walls. Its meaning is as follows: the enemy, storming the protective wall, overcomes it and finds itself in a closed corridor. Behind the door leaves fall. Ahead - the fortress wall. From above, the zahab had overlap with special holes through which the warriors could shoot at the enemy, throw stones at it, and pour it with hot resin. The invaders were trapped, from which it was impossible to escape. Zahab defended the Nikolsky Gate - the main entrance to the fortress.
The staircase inside the Lukovka tower is steep, but quite reliable. For some reason, the floor of the observation deck was laid out with glass plates. Perhaps in the future it will be highlighted.
One of the most mysterious objects of the fortress is a secret passage to the water. The entrance to it is located at the Bell Tower. The corridor-hiding place descends along the southern slope to the foot of the mountain, its length is about 40 meters. When the cache appeared, it is not exactly known; it may have been cut down in the middle of the 16th century. Access to water for the Izborians during debilitating sieges was vital. The Nikolsky Well, to which the secret passage leads, is still in effect. But the corridor itself in the thickness of the rock is being restored, but they plan to open it for display. It is necessary, however, to solve the issue of lighting. The employees of the museum, who were in the cache, admitted that even with a lantern it was difficult and creepy to go there: the width was only half a meter, and the course was laid at a depth of sixteen meters.
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