Staraya Ladoga is a small village not far from St. Petersburg, known for its ancient fortress and monasteries.

There are legends that local tribes that inhabited the territory to the south of Lake Ladoga in the 7-8 centuries AD invited a Scandinavian prince Rurik to be their ruler. Prince Rurik founded the first Royal dynasty of the ancient Russ’.

The settlement of Ladoga was located on one of the most important trade routes from the Baltic Sea to Byzantium, which is also known as “from the Varangians to the Greeks”. Almost all merchants stopped on the bank of the river Volkhov.

Prince Rurik ordered to construct a fortress around the settlement on the banks of the river. A few years later he founded another fortress nearby – Novgorod (New town), and his residence was moved there. At the same time Ladoga remained one of the most important trading center in Russia.

Sights to see in Staraya or Old Ladoga

1. The fortress of Old Ladoga

Construction of the first stone fortress in Ladoga began in 1114 or 1116. It was built of big wild boulders, has shape of a pentagon with 5 towers. The fortress was surrounded with water: two natural rivers - Ladozhka and Volkhov, and a moat.

Many times the fortress protected local people from the enemies. In the beginning of the 18th Century the Russian border has moved to the west of Ladoga, to the shores of the Gulf of Finland, and the fortress lost its significance. By order of Peter the Great, another settlement was founded on the shore of Lake Ladoga - Novaya Ladoga. Residents and the state institutions moved to a new city. And Ladoga was renamed into Old Ladoga. Military units left the fortress. Being the first capital of the Russian state Staraya Ladoga turned into a small village. The fortress was in isolation for many years, and by the beginning of the 20th century it was almost completely destroyed. In Soviet days the fortress was turned into a museum. Simultaneously the restoration began, it continues nowadays. There is a wonderful museum in the fortress, its exhibition is dedicated to different periods of the history of Staraya Ladoga.

2. Church of St. George

This church dates back to the 12th century. It is one of the oldest in the North of Russia. There are original frescoes of the 12th century inside the church. The most famous painting tells us the story of "The Miracle of St. George against the Serpent." The fresco presents an unusual interpretation of this legend. St. George does not kill the serpent, but he defeats it with the help of a prayer, and then he leads the serpent into the city to the court of local residents. Such an interpretation of the plot is quite rare in the paintings of later masters. Thanks to the efforts of the modern restorers the current appearance of the church is very close to the original design of the 12th century. The church is a museum nowadays. Guided tours are provided to the visitors, but only in summer, and they are subject to weather conditions.

3. Nikolsky Monastery (Monastery of St. Nicholas)

Nikolsky Monastery is located on the territory of Staraya Ladoga to the south of the fortress. According to legend, it was founded in the 13th century in honor of the victory of Prince Alexander Nevsky over Swedes in 1240.

4. Uspenskiy Convent (Assumption Convent)

The Assumption Convent is picturesquely located on the left bank of the Volkhov River to the north of the fortress. For the first time it was mentioned in chronicles in the 15th century. Evdokia Lopukhina, the first wife of Peter the Great, spent 7 years in this convent as a prisoner (1718-1725).

5. Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

The Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist was first mentioned in chronicles in 1276. For many years (until it was closed in the 1920s) it was the main cathedral of Staraya Ladoga. Until recently there was a threat of its complete destruction. It turned out that the hill where the church is situated is pitted with underground passages. In the XIX century local peasants mined quartz sand here and sold it in St. Petersburg for the manufacture of light bulbs. As a result, there were a lot of empty spaces under the hill, and it could cause damages. Restorers had to pump a lot of concrete under the hill, it helped to stop the destruction of the church.

Getting here

The village of Staraya Ladoga is located in the Volkhov district of the Leningrad region.

The village can be reached by road.

The distance to Staraya Ladoga by road is:

from the railway station Volkhovstroy-1 - 15 km.

from St. Petersburg (center) - 260 km.

from Petrozavodsk (center) - 180 km.

from Moscow (center) - 850 km.