Travel

Where have you been?
What have you seen?
What was good?
What was not so good?

To come: Churches of Novgorod

NOVGOROD BIRTH PLACE OF RUSSIA

Novgorod is considered to be the founding city of Russia in the ninth century. Although Kiev, the capital of todays Ukraine, predates Novgorod, Oleg of Novgorod conquered it to produce the state of Kievan Rus. Kiev became the mother of Russian cities, whereas Novgorod was the birthplace of Russia.

Historically Novgorod was the  richest city in Russia and possibly in the whole of Northern Europe, because as a member of the Hanseatic League it became a gateway for merchandise to and from Europe to the Far East.

Novgorod is an  historic town, with a well preserved medieval Kremlin (fortress). The deepwater berths on the river Volhov just outside the Kremlin and across the river at the remains of the Hanseatic market are the scenes of some of the dastardly deeds in the novel.

 

PAVLOVSK

Pavlovsk, a small provincial town, lies 20 miles south of St Petersburg. The town developed around the Pavlovsk Palace, one of the summer residences of the imperial family. The palace and its extensive gardens were designed for Catherine the Great by a Scot, Charles Cameron. The town was a terminal on the first railway in Russia, which served the many aristocratic and wealthy people, who escaped from the capital to their Summer cottages. Pavlovsk retains some of the old buildings and the Palace and grounds are exceptionally beautiful.

I first visited Pavlovsk in the seventies and learnt that during ‘The Great Patriotic War’ the Amber Room, amongst others, was plundered and taken to Germany and very little was known about it. That was the first time it crossed my mind that I could write a novel about looting and the search for spoils of war. However, many years later, after painstaking restoration, the room can be seen in its full glory. Nevertheless, I have used a similar concept, the factual looting of St Sophia’s cross from Novgorod, as a subplot of my novel Russian Resolution.

The other link Pavlovsk has with my novel is the barracks, a stone’s throw from the palace. They are the military barracks described in the book except that they are active unlike the ones described there.

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