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Pskov is a very ancient town. During its long history the city proved to be a distinguishing strong hold of northwestern Russia, protecting it from foreign invasions. However, it is not only historical significance that has always attracted attention to the city. Besides being a major fortress of the region, Pskov is also famous for being an important trade and cultural center.

Pskov was first mentioned in chronicles in 903. 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.

At the end of the X century the town was fortified by building the Pskovs Kremlin at the junction of the Pskova and the Velikaya rivers. While the ancient state of Rus was going through the process of feudal disintegration in XI-XII centuries, Pskov, just as many other Russian principalities did, started to move towards gaining an independent status.

Its northwestern location protected Pskov from a long-lasted Mongol invasion (1240-1480), however it was just this geographical position that led towards constant fight for protecting Russian State from foreign invasion, including battles against the Livonians in 1240-1242 and in 1268-1269. In 1240 Alexander Nevsky, Russian national hero, won a victory over the Swedes on the Neva River.

Dependence from Novgorod, which was officially ended by 1348, influenced Pskovss social and political organization. Principle of princes elections and a mass assembly (the Veche) produced a system close to that of medieval Venice or Genoa.

However, as Moscow was becoming more and more influential, Pskov was forced to leave this democratic system. Muscovites headed joint campaigns against the Livonians and Lithuanians. Pskovs independence came to an end in 1510, when Grand Prince Vasilii III abolished the Veche and exiled several influential Pskovs families.

The XV-XVI centuries were also the time when architects from Pskov became famous throughout the country and were often asked to work in Moscow and other major cities. The Polish and Swedish invaders that assault the town in the late XVI early XVII centuries were amazed by Pskovs magnificent white walls, towers and churches. A Polish courtier, Piotrovski, wrote in 1581, "We are a mile away from Pskov. We admire Pskov. Oh God, what a large city! It is just like Paris."

During the Great Northern War (1700-1721) Pskov preserved its importance as a strategic and military base. Here Peter the Grate trained his forces to win over the strongest Baltic power of that time Sweden.

However, Pskov was not only an important stronghold, but also often served as a source of inspiration. Local picturesque nature and rich cultural heritage attracted and influenced such outstanding Russian personalities as A.S. Pushkin, M. D. Mussorgsky, and N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov. Pushkin's mother's estate, Mihailowskoye, was situated near Pskov and here the poet wrote a number of his masterpieces, for example, historical tragedy Boris Godunov and several chapters from Eugene Onegin. Estate of Modest Mussorgskys grandparents was situated in the village of Naumovo. The composer used to say that his music was rooted in the local folk songs, tales and sayings. Here Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov got an inspiration for writing his famous operas among which can be named Sadko and "Snegurochka".

Pskov is one of the oldest Russian cultural centers and has a lot to offer both to those who are interested in discovering fascinating sightseeing and to those who are searching for picturesque natural sites.

Pskov is the regional center and it is undoubtedly among the major tourist attraction. The heart of the city is the Pskov Kremlin, or Krom. This ancient fortified citadel is situated on the cliff at the confluence of the Pskova and Velikaya rivers. Inside the Kremlins walls one can find the main shrine of Pskov, the Trinity Cathedral. The first wooden Trinity Cathedral was built here at the X century. By the XII century this construction was substituted with a stone one. Actually, the cathedral was destroyed and rebuilt several times and what we see now is the Trinity Cathedral built in 1699. This magnificent white edifice is covered with carvings and crowned by five domes. For centuries it was the place where Pskovs princes were anointed for ruling. Nowadays, the Cathedral has preserved its significance as the center of spiritual and cultural life of the city.

The Kremlins ensemble also includes the Trinity Cathedral bell-tower, fortification towers, Dovmont's Town and the Administrative Chambers. Name of Dovmont's Town, a medieval center of the towns life, is connected with the Lithuanian prince Dovmont, who built the second fortification belt around the Kremlin. The Administrative chambers were built in 1692 1695 and served as the main local administrative institution.

Outside the Kremlin territory there is a great number of architectural and historic monuments. Pskov is well-known or its ancient church buildings, like those of the Church of Archangels Michael and Gabriel (1339) and St. Basil's Church of the Hill (1413). But special attention deserves the Transfiguration Cathedral in the Mirozhsky Monastery. The building is one of the oldest in the city and dates back to the XII century. However, it is famous not only for that reason but also for unique ancient frescoes and icons. The monastery is on the UNESCO list of world heritage.

Mikhailovskoye, Trigorskoye, and Petrovskoye Estates

Surrounded by parks and gardens, estate exhibitions of the Pushkin museum-preserve are aimed at creating an atmosphere in which A. Pushkin was brought up, lived and created his world-famous masterpieces.

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