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Krom and Dovmontov gorod: the urban node of medieval Pskov
May 14, 2009 01:36

The Pskov Krom (in other words Kremlin) is historical and architectural centre of Pskov. It consists of fortification system and some buildings including The Holy Trinity cathedral and commercial buildings of 17th century. Krom is built upon the confluence of rivers Pskova and Velikaya. Its square is about 3 ha. From 11th to 16th century Krom was the centre of spiritual life, administration and law of the medieval Pskov.

The settlement existed on this place from the middle of the first millennium while Pskov as itself traced from the 10th century. In 11th 12th centuries earthworks completed by stone walls kept Pskov against the enemy, the Holy Trinity cathedral was constructed in wood. The chronicles inform that the place for it was pointed out by famous princess Olga (the first Christian sovereign of the ancient Rus). She saw it in a dream. In 12th century the cathedral was built in stone by Smolensk masters. In 1365 a new cathedral was raised on the place of ramshackle one. The existing building was completed by 1699.

Returning to fortification system it is worth to mention that the fortress has a shape of the triangle, two long sides of which, the east and the west ones are enforced with rivers. The south side is called Persha or Persi (the breast). It is a front side of Krom and the most indefensible one. Thats why the wall thicknesses of Persha reach 6 meters. A graff made in front of Persha turned Pskov into a secure stronghold. There were some reasons for that.

Firstly Pskov was a frontier town. But German knights (Brothers of the Sword, a little bit later the knights of the Teutonic Order) werent the only one source of danger. Lithuania was a very powerful state not always friendly to the Russian lands. Secondly, Pskov was actually independent city-state like Novgorod with its own political and administrative system based on the republic form of government completed with prince, responsible for outdoor security only, so there was a real danger of internal wars. The interesting detail is that nobody lived in Krom. It was only administration centre and shelter in the case of military peril.

Later on the south side of Krom, just in front of Persha appeared one more fortification system, Dovmontov gorod. It is called in honor of the prince Dovmont (his Christian name is Timofey) who erected the system of walls and towers in the late 13th century. There are many archaeological rests of stone buildings of 12th 15th centuries on the territory of Dovmontov gorod. Unfortunately the medieval churches and administration buildings are presented only by fundaments with fragments of frescoes. Dovmontov gorod lost its meaning after 1510 when the period of veche republic ended and Pskov became a part of Muscovy.

The contemporary look of towers and walls is result of restoration of the 19th century, which have little in common with conservation, so we have two architectural monuments in one: the medieval fortress and a piece of Romanism architecture.


Yulia Buzykina


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