Pskov region

General information

Above the quay walls of the Kremlin and see Pskov Cathedral
Above the quay walls of the Kremlin
and see Pskov Cathedral.
Pskov is an ancient city located in the north-west of Russia about 20 kilometers (12 mi) east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River. The name of the city, originally spelled “Pleskov”, may be loosely translated as “the town of purling waters”. Its earliest mention comes in 903, which records that Igor of Kiev married a local lady, St. Olga. Pskovians sometimes take this year as the city's foundation date, and in 2003 a great jubilee took place to celebrate Pskov's 1,100th anniversary.

Today Pskov is known as a religious center and a popular place of pilgrimage because of its famous monastery Pechory. The monastery was built around the cave named Petschora. The place is still retaining the secrets of the old school icon painting. Anybody, who is interested in this rare craft and wants to witness Russia’s medieval flair, is strongly advised to pay Pskov a visit. The old fortress is still beautiful and boasts its many authentic churches, including The Kremlin of Pskov. The rarest samples of old Russian architecture have survived till nowadays: fortresses, housing, and churches, as well as monumental painting. The Our Saviour Transfiguration cathedral of Mirozhskiy monastery is called a gem of Russian culture, and UNESCO enrolled it into the list of the world heritage: It was built in the XII century and decorated by the Byzantine artists.

Ascension of Christ. Fresco in Mirozh Monastery. Mid. XII c.
Ascension of Christ. Fresco
in Mirozh Monastery. Mid. XII c.
In Pogankiny Palaty (Chambers), there is a largest collection of icon painting recognized as world-important. At the city outskirts, in an underground necropolis of Svyato-Uspenskiy Pskovo-Pecherskiy monastery established in the XV century, the remnants of monks have found piece, as well as persons from many famous Russian families - Tatishchevs, Kutuzovs, Musorgskiys, Pushkins. Pskov grounds are inseparably linked to the life and creative activity of the outstanding figures of Russian and global culture: Russian poetical genius A. Pushkin, composers M. Musorgskiy and N. Rimskiy-Korsakov. Here lie the memorial places related to the life of Apostle-worthy Saint, Holy Princess Olga.

The climate of Pskov is moderate continental with influences of maritime climate due to the city's relative proximity to the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland; with relative soft but long winter (usually 5 months per year) and warm summer. Summer and fall have more precipitation than winter and spring.


The wonderful network of Transportation in Pskov makes getting to and around the city easy. The region of Pskov is crossed by the rail networks connecting Moscow with Riga and Tallinn, St. Petersburg with Riga and Kiev. The city of Pskov is a transport point of international, domestic and local bus routes. The passenger transportation in Pskov region is done by the 23 large and small automobile companies and the 285 private entrepreneurs. There are various buses from Pskov to the other regions of the country. You will get many taxis running in the city and they form the most convenient mode of transportation in the city. Pskov airport is a 4th class international airport and is well decked for serving the domestic and international flights. The major airline operating flights in the airports in Pskov is Pskovavia. The Airports in Pskov are fully equipped with the standard amenities for the convenience of the passengers.

Major sights

Pskov still preserves much of its medieval walls, built from the 13th century on. Pskov is exceedingly rich in tiny, squat, picturesque churches, dating mainly from the 15th and the 16th centuries.

Ancient Pskov land with fortress in rivers crossing
Ancient Pskov land with fortress in rivers crossing.
Main attraction of Pskov city is so called “Krom” - medieval citadel built in the 13th century. The Krom (Pskov Kremlin), or medieval citadel, looks as impressive as ever. Within its walls rises the 256-foot-tall Trinity Cathedral, founded in 1138 and rebuilt in the 1690s. The cathedral contains the tombs of saint princes Vsevolod (died in 1138) and Dovmont (died in 1299). Other ancient cathedrals adorn the Mirozhsky monastery (completed by 1152), famous for its 12th-century frescoes, St. John's (completed by 1243), and the Snetogorsky monastery (built in 1310 and painted in 1313).

The Holy Dormition Pskovo-Pechersky (Pskov-Caves) monastery is located 50 kilometers to the west of the city of Pskov, near the very border of Estonia and 340 kilometers from St. Petersburg. the oldest continually functioning monastery in Russia and a magnet for pilgrims from all over the country. 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 Holy Dormition Pskovo-Pechersky monastery
The Holy Dormition
Pskovo-Pechersky monastery.
The name of the monastery was derived from the Old Russian word “pechera” meaning “cave”, as the monastery originated from the caves. The caves are located in a steep sandy slope of the Kamenets Stream, in a hill that was considered as a holy site since pagan times. The holy relics of St. Mark the desert-dweller, still rest in the caves and many people come to venerate them. The contemporary appearance of the monastery is unusually picturesque. The fortress walls surround the wonderful architectural ensemble consisting of the churches of 15-19th centuries, a big belfry (with complete set of the ancient bells) and original household constructions. Now the cloister has 11 churches, three among them are of cave type. Seventy monks live in the monastery. The monastery has a restoration of the icons and wonderful children choir.

The date of the monastery's foundation is considered to be August, 15/28, 1473. It was on that day that the monastery's founder, St. Jonah (Shesnik) consecrated the church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God — a church which was built into the hillside. The monastery has never been closed. Five centuries have passed, and the monastery has seen both glory and tragedy, but never have the holy lampadas gone out, nor prayer ceased in this blessed place. The perfectly preserved powerful fortress of the 16th century was an impregnable outpost in the western part of the Russian state. At the same time, the monastery was one of the largest cultural centers of ancient Russia. Chronicles and literary works were written here, as well as priceless samples of Russian painting, applied art and jewelry were made and collected by the monks. Now there are ten churches in the monastery. It is in the oldest gold-domed Dormition church that one can see and venerate the miracle-working icon of the Dormition of the Most Pure Mother of God and the relics of the Holy Martyr Cornelius. In 2003 the monastery marked the 530th anniversary of its existence and salvific work in the Orthodox Church. The years pass, governments and empires rise and fall, but the monastery remains a firm stronghold of Orthodoxy in a restless world.

The Krypetsky Monastery was founded in 1485 by St. Savva Krypetsky, a Serbian monk from Mount Athos, in what was then described as an impracticable mire. Two years later, the Pskov veche supported his establishment by granting a large plot of land to the monks. Prince Obolensky had a road for pilgrims built through the mire to the monastery. St. Savva died on 28 August 1495 and was interred in the timber cathedral, which was rebuilt in stone in 1547 and still stands.

A.S. Pushkin’s family estate, Mikhaylovskoye
A.S. Pushkin’s family estate, Mikhaylovskoye.
Mikhailovskoe, a family nest of Alexander Pushkin where he wrote some of the best known lines. 120 km south-east of Pskov there stands the Holy Hills Monastery with its old Cathedral of Dormition (16th century). The greatest Russian poet of the 19th century Alexander Pushkin is buried here, not far away from his favorite Mikhailovskoye estate. It was here in the Pskov countryside that Pushkin's genius flourished. The wonderful estates of Trigorskoye (the estate of the poet's friends, the Osipov-Wolf family) and Petrovskoye (the estate of Pushkin's great grandfather Abraham Hannibal) were a source of delight and wonder for the poet. At Mikhailovskoye, where Pushkin had to spend “two inconspicuous years living in exile”, he wrote over 100 works including the country chapters of his major novel Eugene Onegin, the drama Boris Godunov, the lyrical poem A Magic Moment I remember… Through all his life, Pushkin carried his passionate love for Mikhailovskoye.

Elizarovo Monastery, which used to be a great cultural and literary centre of medieval Russia. It is a small convent founded in 1447 to the north of Pskov, along the road leading to Gdov, by a local peasant named Eleazar. He constructed the wooden church of Three Holy Fathers, wherein he was interred upon his death on 15 May 1481. Eleazar was canonized at the Stoglavy Sobor in 1551. In the mid-16th century, the monastery was heavily fortified and attained a position of great importance and celebrity, owing to its learned hegumen, Philotheus of Pskov, who is credited with authorship of the Legend of the White Cowl and the Third Rome prophesy. It was during his hegumenship that the monastery became known for its school of icon-painters and its still-standing cathedral was built. Some scholars believe that the only known copy of the Lay of Igor's Campaign was created by one of local monks at the behest of Philotheus.

Old tower of Izborsk fortress, northern Russia
Old tower of Izborsk fortress, northern Russia.
Izborsk is one of the most ancient towns in Russia, mentioned in “The Tale of Bygone Years”. The reserve “Izborsk” is the unique combination of historical and archeological monuments, monuments of defense, cultural and civil architecture, nature and landscape. The center of the territory of the reserve “Izborsk” is Malskaya valley with its unique natural, historic and architectural monuments. The ensemble of the valley keeps the ancient layout of the town, traditional settlements of peasants and estates of merchants, temples and defense buildings. The most significant architectural and archeological monuments of the ancient town are “The Truvor’s Old Town site” of VIII cent., the fortress of Izborsk of XIV cent., Malsky monastery of XV cent., churches, chapels, worshiped crosses.

Slavonic springs
Slavonic springs
Archeological objects comprise the main part of present exhibition “The history of Izborsk from VIII to XVII cent.”, and museum collection which has more than 46000 exhibits. Today you can visit museum and tourist complex “The Peasant’s estate” with “Pokhlobochnaya” (soup shop), “Blinnaya” (pancake shop), souvenir shop, modern house for visitors. For the tourists there are interesting excursions around the reserve, banya (Russian sauna), hours ride and row.

Slavonic springs

There are a lot of springs near Izborsk, and all they have their own names: Talavskie, Ilinskie, Bogoroditskie, Slavonic, and Nicolskie. The biggest springs are located mostly in the western part of Izborsko-Malskaya valley. They are so called “Slavonic springs” or “The springs of the Twelve apostles”. The first mentioning of these springs refers to the XVII cent. But they exist more than thousand years. Going through the limestone and the layers of clay the water becomes clearer but it still has a lot of calcium and mineral elements in it. Slavonic springs are supposed to be healthy and to have miraculous power. There is a legend that every spring has its own power. One can give you health, another - happiness, the third one - love. That’s why you should try the water from every spring in order to have the full set.


Ruin of old tower in Pskov
Ruin of old tower in Pskov.
Pskov is situated at the junction of the Velikaya and the Pskova rivers. The first reference to Pskov in the state chronicles dated 903 and linked to the marriage of Kievan Prince Igor and Pskovian girl Olga who became the Grand Princess of Kiev, wise ruler and the first of the Russians who adopted Christianity. The first settlements appeared on the high steep promontory in IV-V centuries, gradually developing turned by IX-X centuries into a fort, which stood at the head of the whole Pskov land. The original name of Pskov was “Pleskov” meaning “purling waters town”.

During the Middle Ages, Pskov was a main stronghold on Russia's northwestern frontier, a capital of a wealthy principality, and one of the largest cities in Europe. It was repeatedly attacked by the Mongols, the Teutonic Knights, Lithuanians, Polish and Swedes. Later, in 1241, it was captured by Teutonic knights. Several months later it was liberated by Alexander Nevsky.

Alexander Nevskij's sword in the Pskov's Kremlin
Alexander Nevskij's sword
in the Pskov's Kremlin.
With the name of the Grand Princess Olga connected the building of the first church in Pskov wooden Trinity Cathedral, the first in Russ Cathedral of Holy Trinity, which was the symbol of Pskov and the Pskov land. In the place Budnik near Pskov was born prince Vladimir “The Red Sun” - the Baptist of Russ. In Pskov trade was thriving, the arts were developing rapidly, and the unassailable fortified city walls protected the town and its citizens from the attacks of those attracted by fabulous treasure. Many of the architectural monuments of medieval Pskov can still be seen today. Historical landmarks include beautifully preserved ancient stone building such as the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral and the 12th century Cathedral of the Spaso-Mirozhsky monastery.

From the 14th century sovereign Pskov Republic was functioning with capital in Pskov city. From European point of view it was Russian western outpost. That’s why Pskov city was the subject of numerous attacks and sieges through all its history. Only in the 15th century Pskov city citadel was under siege dozens of times. Pskov is a city where a lot of Russian architecture features were introduced for the first time.

Pskov city was taken over by Moscow state in 1510. That time it was the second largest city of Moscow state. Pskov city was still an attraction for various invaders. The most known siege happened during Livonian War in 1581-1582 when the Polish army of about 50,000 soldiers were trying to capture the city numerous times but without success.

Later, at the beginning of 18th century, after Russian Tsar Peter the Great had captured Estonia and Latvia states Pskov city role as the border citadel of Russia ended. So the importance of Pskov city reduced greatly.
© WRC2013 Organizing Team