Russian historical places: trip to Pskov, its museums and monasteries

Went to Pskov, Russia on July 30, 2012

Today is the first day of work after vacation, and yes, it is time to write a trip report. Overall, it was a very exciting vacation, with lots of travel, and most importantly тАУ we had a family reunion after not being all together for 10 years.

So here is how it went: I arrived to my home town Saturday morning, and then spent some time at home. On Thursday I went to Pskov region тАУ an exciting tour through northern parts of Old Russia. Upon completing this tour on Monday, we met with my sister and her family in Moscow airport тАУ and went home all together. Then we spent 3 wonderful days at home, after which I went back to Taiwan.

So I will start with a report about my trip to Pskov region. This tour included 3 days of sight-seeing: Pskov itself, then Pushkin natural park (including a visit to his tomb), and finally тАУ some other Old Russian landmarks тАУ Izborsk and (last but not least) тАУ Pskovo-Pechersky monastery.

To get to Pskov I had to take train from Moscow. It was a convenient journey тАУ we left from railway station in Moscow at 6PM and arrived to Pskov at 7 AM. Then we had a breakfast. Our group consisted of only 8 people, so we traveled in a small bus.

After breakfast we went to the bank of Velikaya river, the main river in Pskov, and looked at cityтАЩs most important landmark тАУ the Kremlin (Krom). It is a very remarkable construction тАУ the length of the walls was over 9 km, by far the longest Kremlin wall in Russia. Apparently, Pskov was a very prominent city during medieval time тАУ on par with Moscow. But most of the buildings were destroyed during WW II, including Krom, so what you can see nowadays is a newly built stuff which of course resembles the old construction.

A Trinity Cathedral is located inside Krom. Local people claim that this was the first Trinity cathedral in Russia, first version of which was built in 10th century. Indeed, the next Trinity cathedral known to us was built in 14th century by Sergius of Radonezh. So, Pskov is also important from the religious point of view. Indeed, St. Olga of Kiev was born in a village not far from Pskov.

There are so many beautiful churches in Pskov! They are designed in either Pskov style or in Novgorod style. Both styles are quite different from what you can see in other parts of Russia. For example, the shape of the bell tower is quite unique. It is interesting that many churches have survived the WW II, including Mirozhsky monastery, which contains frescoes of 12th century тАУ the only place in Russia which contains pre-Mongolian frescoes which survived nearly intact. I visited this monastery later during that day, thus fulfilling one of my deams тАУ I saw the gorgeous frescoes! It made me wonder how those тАЬoldтАЭ people could do such amazing things! Apparently, they were very educated and very skillful. Nowadays, we have lots of opportunities for educating ourselves in various disciplines, but people spent 1/3 of their lives sleeping, then another 1/3 entertaining themselves by watching TV, playing computer games, or just eating

What I can see from those examples of early Christianity is that those people had real passion to build for ages. We, the modern people, do not have such passion. Do we have any passion at all? The problem is that whatever we do is not supposed to last. We lost our passion, we lost of creativity. We are just nuts and bolts of the global economic machine.

After the bus tour through Pskov we went to the Pskov museum which has an amazing collection of medieval artifacts. In particular, I was impressed by precious items made of silver, and also by collection of icons тАУ again, painted in a unique Northern-Russian style. Then we had lunch and that was it for the 1st day. Still, there was plenty of time, so after checking into hotel, I went to Mirozhsky monastery on my own. Luckily, I was able to join a guided tour, from which I learned a lot about the history of this monastery, as well as the meaning of the frescoes. Obviously, they are drawn not in a random order, they actually tell a number of Bible stories, including both New and Old Testament.

The painters of these frescoes were so skillful that they took into account the location of windows inside the cathedral, to make use of the beam of light that is casted by the sun. For example, here you can see the figure of Archangel Gabriel highlighted through the window. After visiting the monastery I spent some time exploring the city, and then at around 9PM I came back to hotel. I was rather tired, but very very happy! I saw many unique ancient churches, icons, and frescoes, those things that constitute Russian culture, that every Russian must see!

But it was only the first day. More exciting things were waiting for me during the next 2 days of the tour. What an exciting and joyful time it was!