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PSKOV - KREMLIN AND CITY

John Sloan

Micha Jelisavcic

Here is a table listing the photos of Pskov.
Pskov was founded in 965 and united with Novgorod as a bishopric in 992. The city grew to prominence as an independent city state during the breakup of the Kievan state in the 12th century. At first it was under the control of Novgorod. Pskov is located at the confluence of the Velikaya and Pskova Rivers. The city is divided into four parts. The main section of town was built in the 14th-15th cent between the Velikaya and Pskova rivers, the Zapskovi quarter is on the right bank of the Pskova, and the Zavalitchii quarter is on the left bank of the Velikaya. They are connected with the central town by two bridges. Prior to WWI all the right bank quarters still had their walls and towers. The kremlin with adjoining fortifications were built by the Lithuanian military leader, Dovmont, who was the son of Mindaugas and involved in his father's assassination in 1265. To escape retribution Dovmont fled to Pskov, where he converted to Orthodoxy.Sword of Dovmont hanging symbolicly in front of main kremlin wall inside Pskov city. In 1266 he was elected military commander and prince of the town. That year he lead a campaign against Lithuania in which he won a great victory on the Western Dvina River. In 1267 he joined forces with the sons of Alexander Nevski to invade the German Teutonic Order's territories in Estonia. They defeated the knights at Rakovor and overran Estonia. In 1271 he again was victorious over a German force that was ravaging Pskov's territories. In 1272 The Teutonic Order retaliated with a large assault on Pskov itself, led by the Master of Riga. Dovmont lead a sortie that routed the besiegers. He died in 1272 and was buried in the Trinity Cathedral.
View inside the kremlin - the wall along the river and the northwest corner tower of the kremlin. Our group approaching the kremlin northwest corner tower. Closeup view of corner tower.View from the northwest corner tower of the City wall on the northwest corner along the river enclosing the point north of the kremlin, and part of city wall across the Pskovaya River. View from inside the kremlin. View looking up at the northern wall of the kremlin from just outside. View from the northwest tower of the kremlin over the small section of the city outside the kremlin between it and the river plus over the section of the city beyond the river. Note that the city wall continues around that far section. View of another tower of the Pskov kremlin. View of the northern section of Pskov with city wall from across the river.


During the fighting against the Livonians in 1240-42, Pskov gained increased status, and gained even more after its victory over the Livonians in 1268-1269. Its social and legal system was codified in the Pskov Charter. The city had a special character based on its frontier position and unique economic condition. The town veche ruled supreme with princes reduced to secondary importance. The city's independence was confirmed in the Bolotov agreement of 1348. The city became a member of Hanseatic league. Pskov sent troops to support Moscow at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380 and increasingly came under Muscovite influence during joint campaigns against the Livonians and Lithuanians. Walter von Plettenberg, Grand Master of the Teutonic Order failed to capture the city in 1502. The city's independence came to an end in 1510, when Grand Prince Vasilii III Ivanovich abolished the veche and deported 300 prominent families, replacing them with Muscovite servitors. Pskov had a population of 205,000 in 1990, having grown from 36,000 in 1914 despite the destruction of World War II.

The fortress of Pskov with its inner and outer walls stands out for its complex configuration. The core of the fortress was an ancient fortification, kremlin, on the triangular elongated nape on the point where the Pskov River empties into the Velikaya River. In the XI-XII centuries there was a wooden fortress on the cape, separated by a deep canal driven into the rock. The massive kremlin wall on the interior city side with the sword of Dovmont in view. The cathedral looms over the wall. The limestone walls date from 1266. Gate in the kremlin wall within the oldest part of the city. View from outside kremlin. Wall is much restored. View through the passageway of the kremlin gate. View of the curved entrance passageway inside the kremlin gate looking toward the cathedral. Some tourists are visiting the kremlin.
In 1452 the fortress was rebuilt to become fully made of stone with five towers. The Livonian Order attacked Pskov and Izborsk unsuccessfully in 1480. By the end of the XV century two more walls were added. At their greatest extent the fortifications comprised five rings of walls with powerful towers and massive gates. Sets of lattices above and below the town blocked the Pskov River. The fortresses of outlying towns and monasteries (Izborsk, Gdov, Ostrov, and Pechora) were developed into a fortification system. Every new wall was built to foreshadow the incursions by Lithuania and Germany. Gradually Pskov developed a series of independent but adjacent-to-each-other fortifications surrounded by nine km. of walls and ramparts. Some of this architecture and religious art is preserved also in the Mirozhskii (1156) and Snetogorskii (1300) Monasteries. Great tower in the kremlin wall on city side.

In the XVI century the huge Intercession Tower was built with its 90 meters circuit, 40 meters height, and walls of 3.5 to 6 meters thickness. The tower is restored with some of the older masonry being preserved. The ruins of the walls and towers behind the Pskova River were preserved. Corner tower of the kremlin from inside kremlin. Wall to the left is between the kremlin and city. Corner tower in the kremlin.
Within the kremlin is the five-domed Cathedral of the Holy Trinity founded in 1138 but rebuilt between 1691 and 1699. It is 196 ft long by 124 ft wide and 256 ft to the top of the cross. To the left of the ikonostasis is the tomb of St Gabriel (Vsevolod) first prince of Pskov (1138). The tomb of Prince Dovmont is in a separate chapel. His sword hangs above. The princes of Pskov are buried in the crypt underneath the lower chapel. Another view.The Cathedral on a dark and snowy winter day in December 1991 during which the sun didn't appear. And as viewed from across the river. A monastery fortress across the river from Pskov.
The powerful defense fortifications were impregnable. The defense of the city was facilitated by heavy swamps on the approaches to the city. The Polish King Stefan Batory, while besieging Pskov in 1581-82, undertook 31 attempts to storm the city, subjected Pskov to heavy artillery shelling, and tried to make a sap. The Polish army of 50,000 began the siege on 26 August, 1581. The town garrison under the command of Prince I. P. Shuiskii mustered some 30,000 (some sources give 15,000) including the civilian residents. Bathory attempted a coup de main on 2 September, which failed. The first main assault was begun on September 8th. By then Bathory had departed, leaving command of the siege to Crown Hetman J. Zamojski. Once the Poles succeeded in breaking through one of the outer walls, however, the residents managed to fill the gap at night and repelled the attack. The bravery of the Pskov defenders came to be a legend in Russia. The city itself gained respect even with its bitterest foes. A chaplain from Batory's troops wrote, "We are fascinated by the city, the city is so being just like Paris." The last Polish troops departed on 4 February 1582. This defense greatly influenced the Russian success in resisting Polish demands in the war. Tower where the Polish main attack was centered. This tower anchors the southern city wall to the river. View from inside city. Wall to right is along the river.
During World War II the city was heavily damaged. Today the ancient structures still give an idea as to what the fortresses were like. A children's park downtown among the medieval churches. One of many medieval churches outside the kremlin but in the old part of town. Another medieval church in the old section of Pskov and another.. On the drive from Ivangorod to Pskov we passed several villages with homes directly on the narrow roadway.

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