Ancient Russia, the Beginning: Novgorod, Pskov, Izborsk, Pechory, Smolensk - uVisitRussia
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Ancient Russia, the Beginning: Novgorod, Pskov, Izborsk, Pechory, Smolensk

Russian ancient towns of the Central European part of Russia are famed for their fabulous onion-domed skylines, hundred-strong amazing churches and the medieval frescoes inside. This tour covers the most known ancient towns - Novgorod, Pskov, Izborsk, Pechory and Smolensk. It gives a great opportunity to see a different facet of Russian life. Novgorod is very old town, one of the most important historic cities in Russia. The city of Pskov is the biggest European stone fortress. Its history and beauty are magnificent, its life is full of quiet dignity. The settlement of Izborsk is located 30 kilometers west of Pskov and contains one of the most ancient and impressive fortresses of Western Russia. Pechory is a short drive from Izborsk, famous for its monastery, one of the oldest and richest in Russia. Smolensk is one of the oldest Russian cities mentioned already in first Russian chronicles. The development of the city benefited from its advantageous position on the crossroads of the way “from the Varangians to the Greeks”. All these Russian cities and towns have a lot of historic architectural monuments, such as Russian orthodox churches, cathedrals and monasteries - symbols of charming Russian culture.
Type: Private Tour
Duration: 6 days

Itinerary Hide all details

Day 1: Veliky Novgorod

In the morning our driver will pick up you at the hotel in St. Petersburg. Transfer to the railway station for departure to Veliky Novgorod by comfortable daily train.

Veliky Novgorod (Novgorod the Great), one of the Russia's oldest and most beautiful cities, has played an important role in the foundation of the Russian State. It  was first mentioned in the ancient Sofia First Chronicles as early as 859, although the exact date of the city’s founding is not certain. During the beginning of the city, Scandinavian Prince Rurik was invited to Veliky Novgorod to keep law and order, thus giving birth to the prince Rurik dynasty that ruled over all Russian lands for more than 750 years. Novgorod was also one of the greatest international trade centers on the Baltic-Volga commercial route that linked Northern Europe with Asia starting in the mid – 8th century. Novgorod is a beautiful town of solid old churches, peaceful tree-lined streets and a magnificent Kremlin full of historic treasures.

Arrival in Veliky Novgorod, transfer with a local driver to your hotel. Lunch at a hotel.

Our 3-hour sightseeing tour includes visits of the main sights of Novgorod. You will visit the Kremlin, the most striking landmark in Veliky Novgorod. You will have the chance to walk along its ancient walls during your visit. Referenced in the Chronicles since 1044, Kremlin was a religious, political, and cultural center of Novgorod Lands for centuries. Kremlin ensemble includes the most renowned monument: the St. Sophia Cathedral, the mother church of the Novgorodian Eparchy. St. Sophia Cathedral was built by Vladimir of Novgorod at the behest of his father, Yaroslav the Wise, as an expression of gratitude to the people of Novgorod for their support of Yaroslav in his struggle for Kiev. It is one of the oldest stone buildings of Northern Russia. It was the first church in the Slavic lands that incorporated local features that diverged from the Byzantine style in the Eastern Church. The cathedral incorporated austere exterior walls with narrow windows reminiscent of Romanesque architecture of Western Europe. These features were used by architects of Novgorod in other major cathedrals during the following century.

After the tour you will have a chance to visit several souvenirs shops.

You will have free time in the evening to travel around the city and have a dinner at a restaurant of your choice.

Included meals: lunch

Day 2: Pskov

After breakfast at the hotel you will visit the Yuriev Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries of Russia. The monastery was founded during either the eleventh or twelfth century and is the principal monastery of Novgorod. The Cathedral of St. George impresses with its size (32 meters high, 26 meters long and 24 meters wide), severe boldness of the proportions, dynamic three-dome composition, and magnificent and ostentatious interior.

You will depart for Pskov in the afternoon. It will take you approximately 2 hours to get there.

Lunch at a local restaurant.
Check into the hotel. There you will have some time to rest.

In the evening, you will be taken on a sightseeing tour of Pskov, an old Russian town, that preserved more than 300 architectural monuments of 12-20th centuries. You will visit to the impressive riverside Kremlin, which was the religious and ceremonial centre of the town. Within its crumbling walls, is the gorgeous Trinity Cathedral, which is definitely a highlight of any visit to Pskov. Standing at 256 feet tall, the cathedral has a gilded domed roof, which can be seen from 30km away on a fine day, making it a prominent landmark. Inside the cathedral there are impressive 17th Century frescoes and the graves of many princes who have been buried there, dating back as far as 1138. On the territory Dovmont’s Town there are many ancient monuments of stone building, which present the great scientific interest for the study of Russian national architecture. You will also visit the Administrative chamber, main administrative institution of the mayor's government of Pskov in the 17 th century, and merchant houses dating back to XVII century.

First mentioned in the Chronicles in 903 the ancient Pskov is attractive for the tourists for two main reasons: it has a lot of monuments of the ancient Russian culture and is located conveniently close to St.Petersburg, the Russia’s major tourist centre. Pskov began as a small outpost of Novgorod and later grew into a commercial center of its own, developing its own school of icon painting and culture. It was primarily a city of merchants, and because of its aggressive neighbors it needed a good fortifications. Thus Pskov was considered one of the strongest fortresses in medieval Europe. Ivan the Terrible tried to annex Pskov, but the town resisted for many years before being subjugated. Pskov has retained much of its medieval outer-town walls and is crammed full of tiny, picturesque churches and fabulous examples of Byzantine architecture. According to The Russian Primary Chronicle (Povest' vremennykh let), Kievan Prince Igor met his future wife, Olga, in Pskov. The legend has a very bright and emotional description of their encounter on the Velikaya River. As the legend describes it Olga was so clever and beautiful that Prince Igor fell in love with her and married her, although she was not of a noble descent.

Included meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 3: Izborsk and Pechory

After breakfast at the hotel, you will visit Pogankini Palaty, one of the main city’s museums, built in the 70-80s of the XVII century. It was constructed by order of one of the richest men of Pskov, the merchant Pogankin - the man with a lot of dark legends composed about. It is possible to take a look at local handicrafts there.

Lunch at a local restaurant.

After lunch a short drive from Pskov brings you to the beautiful little settlements of Izborsk and Pechory, famed for beautiful monasteries, where you can explore the peaceful grounds.

The settlement of Izborsk is located 30 kilometers west of Pskov. It is one of the most ancient Russian towns, mentioned in the chronicles in 862. According to the chronicle Izborsk is older than Pskov. But due to advantageous geographical location Pskov grew and developed much faster and Izborsk gradually turned to a town governed by Pskov. The main attraction of the ancient settlement is the Izborsk Fortress. The fortress Izborsk defended western boundaries of Russia in centuries-old battles. Till now the fortress walls and towers, becoming already a part of a landscape, amaze our imagination by their beauty and power. There was famous Russian painter N. K. Rerikh, he admired these places. He was inspired by the image of ancient fortifications to creation of the pictures devoted to ancient Russia.

During the sightseeing tour you will visit the famous Izborsk Fortress, one of the most ancient fortification monuments. It is the most popular and unique landmark of the area and an application for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Slovensky Springs is popular pilgrims' destination. Just a sip of ice-cold water is said to fill one's veins with the strength of Earth. Each of twelve springs, scattered along the trail, is considered to have its own unique healing powers. 

Pechory (20 km of Izborsk) is a tiny neat town, located on the very Estonian border. Its main attraction is Pskov's Monastery of the Caves. Founded in 1473, the monastery has never been closed. The magnificent architectural ensemble of the monastery was formed over many centuries, and nowadays its extraordinary beauty makes a great impression on everyone who comes here for the first time. The perfectly preserved powerful fortress of the 16th century was an impregnable outpost in the western part of the Russian state. A legend linked with the monastery has it that, once upon a time, a group of hunters, carried away pursuing wild beasts, found themselves by a river bank flanked by a thick forest. All of a sudden, they heard a beautiful chant coming from somewhere under the ground - that turned out to be the exact spot where a number of hermits had taken refuge in some caves they had carved out of the rock-hard ground to devote their life fully to God. It is also said that the locals had only discovered the existence of these caves as late as in 1392 and that it had happened completely by accident: as the forest was felled, a cave entrance was revealed... In 1473, the Dormition (Uspensky) Monastery, the first and oldest of the buildings, was completed. Surprisingly, the monastery only has the front façade, being literally built inside a hillside.

During this sightseeing tour you will visit amazing Cave Monastery, one of the largest cultural centers of ancient Russia.

In the evening you will have free time to enjoy quite life of the town.

Included meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 4: Smolensk

After early breakfast at the hotel, you will depart for Smolensk. It takes about 8 hours to get to there. There are two stops on the way at local cafes for refreshments.

Smolensk is one of the oldest cities in Russia. It is located in the upper reaches of the Dnieper River, in the vicinity of Moscow. Modern Smolensk managed to keep and carry through the centuries spirit of antiquity. A wonderful view of the city you will fortification, which, incidentally, is the third longest in the world! Numerous monuments, memorials, steles, museums tell about events violently seething at the Smolensk land in the last thousand years! Smolensk is a city with great history. The first recorded mention of the city is in 863 AD. The first settlements were formerly situated on the Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks.  Smolensk kingdom used to be rich and prosperous at the time of intensive trade with Germany, Gotland, and Scandinavia. As a result, Smolensk has rich heritage for all future generations and is the ideal place for historic reconstructions. In 1596 the great fortress was built to protect people. Now this fortress is the most interesting sight of the city. It's bigger than Moscow fortress (the Kremlin). Just imagine! To retrieve the original length of the great wall in Smolensk 6000 people should stand together hand in hand.

In Smolensk, you will have a late lunch. After lunch and some time to rest at the hotel, you will spend the evening on a sightseeing tour of the hero city of Smolensk.

During the tour you’ll visit the Holy Assumption Cathedral, the heart of Smolensk and its symbol, its “business card”-so to speak, famous for housing the icon of Our Lady of Smolensk. The Cathedral Church is located in the central part of the city on the Cathedral Hill and can be seen from virtually every part of the city. On observation deck on Cathedral Hill you can see the panoramic view of the Smolensk Wall and the northern part of the city. You will also see the Smolensk Fortress, the longest fortified structure in Europe. To this day the Smolensk Fortress makes a lasting impression with its grandeur and invincibility.

After the tour you will have free time and a chance to visit several souvenirs shops.

Included meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 5: Talashkino, Smolensk

After breakfast at the hotel you will take a tour of one of the remarkable places of the Smolensk Region, the small settlement Talashkino, situated 18 km away from Smolensk. Talashkino, today a museum reserve, was one of the most important artistic centres of Russia of the late 19th – early 20th centuries, associated with the study and revival of Russian applied and decorative arts.

Talashkino is the beautiful princely manor of the Teneshev family. Talashkino has a special place amongst the list of Russian manors. Some of the most gifted artists of the time worked there, such as I. E Repin, M.A. Vrubel, Rerih. The watercolor painting of its famous owner, Maria Claudievna Tenesheva, is the work of Repin, and is currently located in the Russian Museum of Saint-Petersburg. You will have a chance to become dear guests in well-known folklore-style house “Teremok” decorated in a highly skillful way. You’ll see great samples of woodcrafts that form its interior full of Russian epic and folk tales. Here you will enjoy the nature and relax.

The following excursion is dedicated to the architectural monuments of the pre-Mongol period- the pride of ancient Smolensk. In the 12th century there were up to 40 stone churches in Smolensk, at the time even more than in Novgorod.

This church tour will be followed by a walking tour around the city of Smolensk. A walking tour will be the best choice to see the major places of interest in Smolensk. You will visit the Central Square, two parks, the architectural ensemble of the Smolensk Museum Preserve, a small memorial park dedicated to the victory of 1812 and a house where Napoleon stayed while in Smolensk. Each of these places will tell a lot about the history and culture of the city and introduce you to old traditions and life of contemporary Smolensk citizens.

Lunch at a local restaurant.  Late check-out from the hotel. Transfer to the railway station for departure to Moscow by an overnight train.

Included meals: breakfast, lunch

What's included

  • Novgorod: city tour, Kremlin, St. Sophia, Yuriev Monastery
  • Pskov: city tour, Kremlin, Trinity Cathedral, Dovmont Town, Administrative Chambers, Pogankini Palaty
  • Izborsk Fortress
  • Pechory: Caves Monsatery
  • Smolensk: city tour, Cathedral Hill, Assumption Cathedral, Smolensk Fortress, Talashkino Estate


Russian visa support (Russian visa invitation letter) is included.

Sights included in program

Golden Ring : Pskov
Pskov is one of the most interesting Russian cities. Its history and beauty are magnificent, its life is full of quiet dignity. Pskov is a city-state, a medieval republic of Veche (Popular Assembly), and an impregnable stronghold that anciently safeguarded the North-Western borders of Russia.Pskov and close surroundings are famous for their unique monuments of art and architecture, which are created in special Pskov style in 11th-17th centuries. ... Read more
Holy Assumption Cathedral is the heart of Smolensk and its symbol, its “business card”-so to speak. The Cathedral Church is located in the central part of the city on the Cathedral Hill and can be seen from virtually every part of the city. On observation deck on Cathedral Hill you can see the panoramic view of the Smolensk Wall and the northern part of the city. Russian art historian accurately noted “Smolensk without the Assum... Read more
Smolensk : Smolensk Kremlin
Smolensk Kremlin is a fortress in Smolensk. Smolensk fortress wall is fortifications, built in 1595-1602, during the rule of the tsars of Fedor Ivanovich and Boris Godunov. The monument of architecture. Architect is Fyodor Kon. The length of the walls is about 6.5 km (preserved less than half of walls and towers). It had a great significance in the Russian state. Read more
Smolensk : Talashkino Manor
Eighteen kilometers south of Smolensk is the princely manor of the Teneshev family named Talashkino. Talashkino has a special place amongst the list of Russian manors, and well known as a Russian cultural center in the late XIX-early XX century. Some of the most gifted artists of the time worked there, such as I. E Repin, M.A. Vrubel, Rerih. The watercolor painting of its famous owner, Maria Claudievna Tenesheva,  is the work of Repin, and i... Read more
1/7th of the World : Smolensk
The Principality of Smolensk was founded in 1054. Due to its central position amid Russian lands, the city developed rapidly. By the end of the 12th century the princedom was one of the strongest in Eastern Europe, so much so that the Smolensk Dynasty frequently controlled the Kievan throne. Numerous churches were built in the city during its time of power, including the grand church of St. Peter and Paul. Read more
Veliky Novgorod is one of the oldest Russian cities, first mentioned in chronicles of 859. It is one of the centers of the formation of the Russian state, a city with ancient history, and the "father of Russian cities". It was a medieval trading republic, and a transit centre between Western Europe and Russia. Novgorod is notable not only for its historical value, and the remaining monuments from the times of old, but also for its unique culture.... Read more
Pskov : Dovmont town
For several centuries the Dovmont's Town has been at the foot of the hill with the Pskov Krom. The shaping of its architectural ensemble began in the 13 century. It was named in honor of the Lithuanian prince Dovmont who was baptized by the name of Timothy and after the marriage with the daughter of Alexander Nevsky ruled over Pskov during 1266-99. Read more
The Holy Dormition Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery features 10 colorful churches, a stone belfry, and restored stone fortification walls with bastions. The monastery has never been closed, not even under the Soviet regime, and today you can see the monks working in the fields and stables. The 15th-century church built into the hillside houses the icon of the Dormition of the Purest Mother of God. The monastery is also famous for its children's choir. Read more
The Trinity Cathedral is located in the Krom territory and is the main shrine of Pskov, its heart and symbol. It is the cathedral, which can be seen from all parts of the city, where all the Pskov roads from all over the city converge. The Legend of Princess Olga who ordered to build the “House of the Holy Trinity” in a confluence of three solar rays, which she saw from the opposite Velikaya river bank, claims that the Trinity Cathedr... Read more
Pskov : Izborsk
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 in... Read more
A good defensive location was found 400 meters (1312 ft) further from the initial place – on Zheravya Hill. A new fortress was built under guidance of the Pskov Prince Sheloga (Seloga) and was finished in 1330. This triangular fortress had two immense towers and was completely impregnable from two out of three sides due to the peculiar relief of this region. Thanks to its defensive capabilities, Izborsk Fortress withstood numerous sieges ... Read more
Pskov : Kremlin
The Kremlin is the main attraction of Pskov, its architectural and historical center. This old building, majestically rising on a rocky promontory, is considered one of the best examples of ancient Russia defensive architecture. The height of the strong walls of Krom, occupying an area of 3 ha, comes to 8 meters, while their thickness is 6 meters. Nobody knows, when the Kremlin walls were established, or when its first tower out of its numerous ... Read more
The monument of medieval Russian architecture with the not so enticing name of the Pogankina Chamber in Pskov has its history from the end of the 17th century. They were built by order of the merchant Sergei Pogankin, whose name received their name. According to the client's intention, the chambers were to become a universal structure: inside were residential buildings, and outbuildings, warehouses, and guild shops. Today the Pogankin Chambers ar... Read more
Veliky Novgorod (Novgorod-the-Great) : Novgorod Kremlin
Novgorod Kremlin (also Detinets) stands on the left bank of the Volkhov River in Veliky Novgorod about two miles north of where it empties out of Lake Ilmen. Read more
Veliky Novgorod (Novgorod-the-Great) : St. George's (Yuriev) Monastery
The St. George's (Yuriev) Monastery was the main monastery of medieval Novgorod the Great. It stands south of the city on the left bank of the Volkhov River near where it flows out of Lake Ilmen. According to legend, the monastery was founded in the eleventh century by Yaroslav the Wise, but the first historicall-reliable reference to it is from the early twelfth century when the main church the Church of St. George (Georgieveskii Church) was fou... Read more
Veliky Novgorod (Novgorod-the-Great) : St. Sophia Cathedral
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045- 1050 inside the Detinets. It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia, a senior contemporary of Notre Dame in Paris, and the cathedrals of Rheims, Amiens, Bamberg and Naumburg. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. Read more
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Our flexible payment options allow you to pay 20% of a deposit first and the remaining 80% in 14 days prior to your tour date - payment can be done both online or over the phone. This gives you the peace of mind knowing your spaces are booked on the tours and that you do not miss out on making the most of your time in Russia.

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In our experience, exceptional travel experiences are almost always delivered by exceptional people. With that in mind, we utilize a comprehensive approach to select and employ the best tour guides only. Multilingual and well travelled, each possesses deep insight into the diverse attractions and cultural patterns throughout the region. With us guides undergo a rigorous selection process, achieving outstanding knowledge of local culture and language. Rest assured that the best tour guides only will be working on the tours to give you excellent opportunity to explore the best of the sights during both short and long-term stay in Russia.

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