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The Kremlin of Pskov

It was in the earliest times that the Krivich tribe of Slavs came to the steep-sloped rocky hill rising over a wide river, gave it the name of Krom and started to make their settlement.

By the end of 13th century the settlement grew into a town called Pleskovo, surrounding it wooden walls were changed by the stcyie wall.

As the time went the Kremlin, otherwise called "Detinets", built on the Krom hill turned into but a segment of a large fortification ring engirdling the wide-scattered town of Pskov.

The 12 meter high Kremlin walls connected the corner tower which was erected in 1400 at the place of confluence of the rivers of Pskov and Velikaya, with the massive tower of Ploskaya. The latter was connected with the High Tower, otherwise called the tower of Resurrection, by a wooden wall that

dammed the Pskov river having two arches for the riwers waters to pass. The arches also served as the entrance into the inner harbour of the town. In case of enemy's attack the lattice made of iron-fettered logs was dropped down closing the arches. Hence the name of the wall "The Lower Lattice". "The Upper Lattice" wall was built of wood in 1517 and in 1525—1526 changed by the stone wall according to the order received from Moscow.

The grand walls made a marvellous impression especially in contrast to the small houses of the town. Stone and wooden ladders went up the 4-meter wide walls and due to their width the passes upstairs were comfortable enough for various defense manouvres.

Under Peter I the fortifications were rebuilt. High earth ramparts were made round the old walls and towers covering all drawbridges and reducing the original height of the walls. By that time Pskov had lost its significance of the trade centre. In 1810 the plague arrived in Pskov and spread at a terrible rate. The same year it was almost destroyed by the great fire. Everyone who could do so left Pskov. Many houses were pulled down, especially those in the "Detinets" where logs and bricks were mountaining up to the wall lops.

Restauration works hold recently in Pskov made the Kremlin look as it used to three centuries ago.

After the famous battle on the lake of Tchudskoye another fort called Dovmontov town was joined to the Kremlin. It started to serve as the Prince residence as far back as 12 century. Dovmontov town covering the space of a little less than a hectar became the focus of business life in Pskov. But with increasing significance of Dovmontov town in the matters of business and government the Kremlin gained the meaning of holy place. Citizens gathered there to solve the most important problems of their being and future of the town. The moment you entered the gates of "Detinets ' the deserted silent space of its Veche square would take place of the gay scattering of houses and never fading hubbub of the throng in the Dovmontov town.

It was ordinary people — artisans, shop-keepers — that played the main part at Veche gatherings for they knew their voices decided the course of their lives.

The Troitse church-tower,with the famous Pskov Veche bell hanging in it rose above the wall The bell called people for Veche meetings and feasts, for the battle and to defend the town. In 1242 it sounded the victory of Novgorod-Pskov's army after the battle on Tchudskoye lake. The last time the bell tolled in 1510 for Pskov's independance because the city was joined to Moscow's state. After that the bell was taken away and the church-tower went in decay and was destroyed.

The Veche square appeared to be a sort of the ceremonial part of the Kremlin. At its one side there rose Troitse cathedral behind the high fence and the building of the so called "Seni" (which means "hall") occasionally occupied by the Government Council sittings and permanently by the Veche office, treasury, and archives. To the north from the cathedral and on the other side of the square there was a business centre of "Detinets" with food and clothes warehouses, stores of powder, cannon-balls and arms. They were carefully guarded with help of specially trained severe "Krom dogs" and every thief found guilty in this part of the Kremlin was sentenced to death.

Any important event that happened in the Kremlin would necessarily be connected with Troitse cathedral. Foreign Ambassadors were received in its out-houses, the Princes and Mayors were buried in its underground; the army chieves had their swords on during the ceremony in the cathedral before they were to lead the troops to the battle.

The Troitse cathedral was erected according to designs sent from Moscow and thus in size, look and even the building technique a great deal differs from the typical monuments of Pskov architecture. Nevertheless it can't be considered just an ordinary repetition of Moscow's churches. A certain modesty and strictness is characteristic of its appearance. It lacks the abundancy of detail, the walls are made of trimmed limestone. Originally they were decorated by a simple pilaster line placed under the eaves, and only the lower windows had platband. Open ground-floor galleries surrounding the cathedral made it look light and airy, and on the square side it had a smart entrance with the steep staircase.

When you enter the cathedral you are surely impressed with the luxury of light warmly pouring from numerous windows aboye and from cupola apertures. Tremendous as if striving up church hall seems melting in streams of light beams swooping down from all over above. The stark whiteness of the walls serves an effective background for sparks of gold suddenly blazing up on the wooden icono-stasis. And everywhere multiple variety of sculptural ornament created by interlacing leaves, twigs, rods.

Fantasy of the unknown 17 century Pskov artisans seems joyous and inexaustible. It makes the church hall look festive. The paintings, stonecut, wonderful in its perfectness iron hammered lattice that partitions the cathedral from its chapels, and a more ancient copper church-chandelier hanging from the middle cupola,— all attracts your admired attention.

Some icons like those of Tchirsk Virgin and of Vsevolod depicted with a drawing of Troitse cathedral in his hand are of great value presenting the Pskov painting school in ancient art which is characterized by a rich colour scale and the expression of self-concentration and self-respect.

The past history of indépendant Pskov lives on in its ancient monuments, the main place among them taken by the Kremlin of Pskov.