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

Legend has it that in the VII or VIII Century AD, tribes living in Lake Ladoga region invited the Scandinavian prince Rurik to be their ruler. Rurik founded the first Royal dynasty of the ancient Rus’.

By the order of Rurik a settlement and fortress of Ladoga was established by the River Volkhov, 15 km to the south of Lake Ladoga, as the crow flies. The location was chosen on purpose - the ancient trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, that connected Scandinavia, Kievan Rus' and the Byzantine Empire, made its way along the River Volkhov. Merchants had to pay a duty for getting through. Through this control of trade, Rurik's clan grew rich and powerful.

Later, Rurik founded Novgorod (New town) fortress and moved his residence there. Ladoga still remained one of the most important trading posts in the medieval Russia.

Staraya Ladoga Attractions

Despite its small size, the village of Staraya Ladoga has several important places to visit.

The fortress

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 (new) Ladoga. Residents moved to the new town. Military units left the fortress. Ladoga was renamed into Staraya Ladoga and the first capital of the Russian State turned into a small village.

The fortress was abandoned for many years, and by the beginning of the 20th century it was almost completely destroyed. The restoration has begun in 1958 and has not been fully completed yet.

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 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. Guided tours are arranged in summer, subject to weather conditions.

Nikolsky Monastery 

Nikolsky Monastery (St. Nicholas) is located in the village 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.

Uspensky Monastery

Uspensky Monastery (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).

Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

This church 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.

Questions & Answers

How to get to Staraya Ladoga?

The village of Staraya Ladoga is located in the Volkhov district of Leningrad Oblast'. The village can be reached by car or bus.

The distance to Staraya Ladoga by road is as follows:
- from the railway station Volkhovstroy-1 - 15 km.
- from St. Petersburg (center) - 180 km.
- from Petrozavodsk (center) - 260 km.
- from Moscow (center) - 850 km.