Veliky Novgorod is situated in the north-west of the European part of Russia, 180 kilometers to the south of St Petersburg and 520 kilometers from Moscow. The history of this old Russian town goes back to over 1000 years ago. The date of the town`s foundation was determined based on ancient chronicles. However according to some records, the Novgorod settlement was founded in 854 and according to others it did not existed until 859. Eventually the latter date was assumed to be the accurate date. The oldest stone medieval castle in Russia - the Kremlin - is situated in Novgorod. Located inside the Kremlin is St Sophia Cathedral - the most ancient cathedral in Novgorod eparchy.
Located just outside of Novgorod is the Vitoslavlitsy Museum of Wooden Architecture which has a collection of 22 wooden structures all constructed without the use of nails. The open-air architectural-ethnographic museum provides a whole complex of genuine wooden folk architecture, including ancient churches of the 16th - 18th centuries and peasant houses of the 19th - early 20th centuries as well as exhibitions of folk art and the everyday possessions of Novgorod peasants of the same period.
Yuriev Monastery is a functioning male monastery with a dome-cathedral, several buildings, and a wall which surrounds the grounds. The monastery is situated at the source of the Volkhov River on the left bank. Due to the height of the bank the monastery dominates a grand countryside panorama which is enlivened by small stone churches. The Yuryev Monastery has enriched national culture with its numerous objects of outstanding historical and artistic value. These include two very ancient icons, St George and The Annunciation of Ust'lug, dating from the early twelfth century. In the center of the monastery stands the Cathedral of St George, similar because of its mighty shapes to the city's main church, the Cathedral of St Sophia. The Cathedral of St George was the burial place of princes, noted boyars and other outstanding figures of the Novgorod state. The elder brother of Prince Alexander Nevsky, Fiodor, and his mother Feodosia, were buried there.
Modern Novgorod is a centre of Russian domestic and international tourism.
The modern cultural life of the town is rich in events including International folklore festivals and festivals in the Wooden Architecture Museum "Vitoslavlitsy" with bell chimes, folk gatherings, "skomorokhs'" songs and dances. Novgorod also holds the only Musical Antiquities Center in Russia, where one can listen to the music and see the instruments of the ancient Slavs.
The first one was found on July 26, 1951 during excavations in Novgorod in a layer dated to the 14th-15th century junction. Since then the number of finds is close to 1,000 in several other historical Russian and other East Slavic towns: Staraya, Russa, Smolensk, Torzhok, Pskov, Tver, Moscow, Ryazan, Zvenigorod Volynsky (Ukraine), Vitsebsk (Belarus), Mstislavl (Belarus). These findings considerably changed the understanding of the cultural level of East Slavs of these times.
About a hundred styluses have also been found, mostly made of iron, some of bone or bronze. Most of the birch bark documents are ordinary letters by various people written in what is called Old Novgorod dialect, most probably the vernacular. The letters are of a personal or business character. A few documents are written in Old Church Slavonic. In 2003 it was announced that a birch bark with a part of a known work of Cyril of Turaw had been found in Torzhok.
The late discovery, as well as the state of preservation, of the bark is explained by deep culture layer in Novgorod (down to 8 meters (25 feet)) and heavy waterlogged clay soil which prevented the access of oxygen. Serious excavations in Novgorod started only in 1932, although some attempts had been made in the 19th century.
The existence of birch bark books was mentioned in some old East Slavic manuscripts.
Oldest Finnic language text