Staraya Ladoga

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The fortress of Ladoga was built in stone in the 12th century and rebuilt 400 years later.

Staraya Ladoga (Russian: Старая Ладога), or Aldeigjuborg of Norse sagas, is the first capital of Russia, now the village on the Volkhov river near Lake Ladoga.

Contents

Origin and name

Dendrochronology reports that Ladoga was founded in 753. Until 950, it was one of the most important trading ports of Eastern Europe. Merchant vessels sailed from the Baltic Sea through Ladoga to Novgorod and then to Constantinople or the Caspian Sea. This route is known as the Trade Route from the Varangians to the Greeks. Tellingly, the oldest Arabic Middle Age coin in Europe was unearthed in Ladoga.

Old Ladoga's inhabitants were Vikings, Finns, and Slavs, hence different names for the city. The original Finnish name Alode-joki (i.e., "lowland river") was rendered as Aldeigja in Norse language and as Ladoga (Ладога) in Old East Slavic.

Ladoga under Rurik and Rurikids

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St George's church contains magnificent frescoes painted in 1167.

In 862, the legendary Varangian leader Rurik arrived to Ladoga and made it his capital. Rurik's successors later moved to Novgorod and then to Kiev, thus laying foundations for the powerful state of Kievan Rus. There are several huge kurgans, or royal funerary barrows, at the outskirts of Ladoga. One of them is said to be Rurik's grave, and another one - that of his successor Oleg.

Ladoga's next mention in chronicles is dated to 1019, when Ingigerd of Sweden married Yaroslav of Novgorod. Under the terms of marriage settlement, Yaroslav ceded Ladoga to his wife, who appointed a Varangian earl to rule the town. This information is confirmed by sagas and archaeological evidence, which suggests that Ladoga gradually evolved into a primarily Varangian settlement.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, Ladoga functioned as a vital trade outpost of the powerful Republic of Novgorod. The Novgorodians built there a citadel with 5 towers and several churches. The fortress was rebuilt at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, while the mid-12th-century churches of St George and of Mary's Assumption stand in all their original glory. Inside St George's, some magnificent 12th-century frescoes are still visible.

Sights and landmarks

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View of Old Ladoga in 1911.

In 1703, Peter the Great founded the town of New Ladoga closer to the bank of Lake Ladoga. The ancient fortress thenceforth declined and came to be known as Old Ladoga (Russian: Staraya Ladoga), in order to distinguish it from the new town.

The heart of Staraya Ladoga is an old fortress where the Elena River flows into the Volkhov River. In earlier times, it was a strategic site because it was the only possible harbour for sea-vessels that could not navigate through the Volkhov river.

Apart from the churches mentioned above, there is a mid-12th century church of St Climent, which stands in ruins. There is also a monastery, dedicated to St Nicholas and constructed mainly in the 17th century.

See also

  • Mounds in Staraya Ladoga. The shot was taken during the 1250th anniversary celebration, so people are in historical clothes.

External links

de:Alt-Ladoga pl:Stara Ładoga ru:Старая Ладога

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