Pskov Travel Guide

Pskov Travel Guide

photo of the pskov monastery

Introduction


Pskov is the perfect place for those who want to find out more about ancient Russian culture. The city’s architectural sights are known far beyond its borders. Tourists come here to feel the atmosphere of the old times and explore the greatest examples of medieval architecture. Go for a walk in leafy parks round the old quarter and lose yourself in city-wall ruins and age-old churches.


Historical Overview


Pskov is the capital of the Pskov region, which borders on Belorussia, Latvia and Lithuania. It’s located near the Mirozha, Pskov and Velikaya Rivers, 689 kilometres from Moscow. The city’s population is 207 000 people. The foundation of Pskov is related to the name of Grand Duchess Olga. According to legend, she had a prophetic dream and put a wooden cross on the bank of the River Velikaya to build a church here. Pskov was first mentioned in 903 in the Russian chronicles when Prince Igor married Olga. Perhaps the city had already existed for some time, but the exact date is unknown. Later, Pskov became an increasingly strong city. For a long time, it was under the influence of Novgorod. When the city was attacked by the German crusaders, Novgorod came to the rescue, and the army of Alexander Nevsky repulsed the Germans from the city. Later, there was a battle on Lake Chud, where the Germans were defeated by Alexander Nevsky. From the 12 th to the 15 th century, Pskov withstood 26 heavy sieges. The Lithuanian prince Dovmont, who adopted Orthodoxy, became prince of the city in 1266. Pskov is an ancient Russian city which can boast numerous Orthodox churches. The main cathedral of Pskov is Holy Trinity Cathedral built in the time of Princess Olga.

At the end of the 14 th century, Pskov became dependent on Moscow. Later, Vasily Ivanovich, the prince of Moscow, annexed Pskov to Moscow. The bell was removed. The city was resettled by 300 Moscow families, while the same number of local families went to Moscow. During the war with Poland, Pskov was attacked by the Lyakhs. Ten thousand Polish troops almost captured the city, but the Russians managed to win the battle. According to legend, the saints came to help the Orthodox. In the 16 th century, Pskov was known as a stunningly beautiful place with magnificent churches and an economically developed city. Merchants sold meat, fish, vegetables, flour and poultry. Together with Moscow and Novgorod, Pskov was considered to be an important centre of trade and culture. The 18 th century was a time of development of trade and various crafts. After the revolution until the middle of 1940, Pskov was a border city with a special residence regime. Here, there were significant military forces, including the cavalry corps commanded by K.K. Rokossovsky. The Second World War destroyed many of its monuments and architectural buildings. However, most of the ancient buildings and structures were restored. The modern appearance of Pskov is down to the merit of the talented architects, artists and restorers who managed to carefully restore and preserve every church and monastery. The city began to attract a lot of tourists from all over the country. People come here to admire the unique architectural ensembles, to explore the holy places, to walk down the ancient streets and breathe in the scent of history.


Where to Stay


As Pskov is a small city, most hotels are located in the centre on the banks of the Velikaya River. You hardly find a single luxury hotel here. To stay near the main attractions, choose Dvor Podznoeva, Golden Embankment, Kolos Hotel, Favorit Hotel or Guest House na Velikoy. If you are looking for a transit hotel, have a look at Oasis Hotel not far from the airport.


Bars and Restaurants


Whether you are looking for a cup of tea or Russian cuisine, you will easily find a place to satisfy your hunger. In comparison to Moscow or St Petersburg, the city’s restaurants and bars are quite cheap. Pozharka Tavern draws the crowds for its juicy steaks and smoked trout. At Rusakov, you can try dumplings, traditional Russian soups and pancakes and Russian wines from the Black Sea Region. Locals also recommend Kinza, Kaleidoscope, Very Well Café, Pivniye Palati and Coffee Brabus.


What to See

 

  • The Pskov Kremlin, or Krom, is located on a high hill at the confluence of the Pskov and Velikaya Rivers. Here, you can see numerous ancient monuments, fortifications, buildings and the amazing Trinity Cathedral with its bell tower. The Cathedral is the heart and soul of the Pskov Kremlin, a magnificent example of Russian religious architecture. The white stone Kremlin is reflected in the surface of the river and wonderfully illuminated at night. Its fortress walls are 6-8 metres high and stretch for almost a kilometre. Vlasyevskaya Tower is notable for its high wooden roof. From the fortress wall and towers of the Kremlin, you can see breathtaking views of the river and the valley behind it. We also recommend coming here at sunset.
  • The medieval Gremyachaya Tower was built on the right bank of the Pskov River in 1525. It served as a fortification and strategic point for collecting river water. Although the tower is just 20 metres high, it can accommodate a whole garrison inside.
  • The Pogankiny Chambers are a splendid piece of medieval Russian architecture built at the order of the merchant Sergei Pogankin. The chambers served as residential buildings, warehouses and guild shops. Today, the Pogankiny Chambers are part of the Pskov Architectural Museum and constantly open for visitors. Masson House is part of the complex containing a collection of Russian and Western European paintings from the 18- 20 th centuries, old ornaments, silver and gold coins and treasures found on the territory of the Pskov region.
  • One of the most ancient monasteries in Pskov and North-Western Russia, the 12 th -century Mirozhsky Monastery is located on the bank of the Velikaya River. The building can boast extremely rich interiors. The walls of the monastery are entirely painted with frescos. The heart of the monastery is the magnificent white-stone Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, built in the early 12 th century by Novgorod masters. Its architecture is unusual and resembles the classical Byzantine cathedrals.

 

Transport


You can easily get to Pskov by air, train or bus. There are several intercity buses with free wi-fi on board and regular flights from Moscow and St Petersburg. The city has a small airport and its own air company, Pskovavia. There are regular buses to and from Pechory and international buses to Tallinn and Tartu. For Latvia and Lithuania, you'll need to catch a bus to Dedovichi and then an evening train to Riga. The city’s train station is located next to the bus station. The public transport includes buses and minibuses.

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