Old Russian city: description, features. Old Russian cities: names

From its very appearance, Russia was famous for its densely populated and fortified settlements. Was so famous that the Varangians, who later began to rule it, called the Slavic lands "Gardariki" - the country of cities. Scandinavians were struck by the strengthening of the Slavs, as they themselves spent most of their lives in the sea. Now we can figure out what the ancient Russian city is and what it is famous for.

Causes of appearance

It's no secret that man is a social being. For better survival, he needs to gather in groups. And if formerly such a "center of life" became a tribe, then with the departure of barbaric customs had to look for a civilized replacement.

In fact, the appearance of cities in people's lives is so natural that it could hardly have been otherwise. From a village or a village they are distinguished by one important factor - the fortifications that protected the settlements. Simply put, the walls. It was from the word "cobble" (fortification) that the word "city" was used.

The formation of ancient Russian cities is connected, first of all, with the necessity of protection from enemies and the creation of an administrative center for the principality. After all, it was in them most often was the "blue blood" of Russia. For these people, a sense of security and comfort was important. All traders and artisans flocked here, turning settlements into the turbulent Novgorod, Kiev, Lutsk.

In addition, newly created settlements became excellent shopping centers, merchants from all over the world could flock here, getting a promise to be protected by the military squad. Due to the incredible importance of trade, the cities in Russia were most often built on the banks of rivers (for example, the Volga or the Dnieper), because at that time the waterways were the safest and fastest way to deliver goods. The settlements on the river banks were enriched like never before.


First of all, the city could not exist without a ruler. It was either a prince or his deputy. The building in which he lived was the richest secular housing, it became the center of the settlement. He solved various legal issues and established orders.

The second part of the ancient Russian city - It is boyars - people close to the prince and capable of influencing him directly with his word. They occupied various official posts and lived in such settlements the richest of all, except perhaps the merchants, but they did not stay long in one place. At that time, their life was an endless road.

Then we must remember about the various artisans of all possible professions, from icon painters to blacksmiths. As a rule, their living quarters were inside the city, and the workshops were outside the walls, outside.

And the last in the social ladder were the peasants, they did not live inside the settlement, but settled on those lands that were cultivated. In the ancient Russian city They, as a rule, fell only on commercial or legal matters.


The center of the Old Russian city is the church. The cathedral in front of the main square was a real symbol. The most monumental, decorated and rich building, the temple was the center of spiritual power.

The more the city became, the more churches appeared inside it. But none of them had the right to be more grandiose than the main and first temple, which personified the entire settlement. Princely cathedrals, parish and home churches - all of them were supposed to reach the main spiritual center.

Monasteries played a special role, which sometimes became literally cities within cities. Often fortified settlement in general could arise precisely around the residence of monks. Then the main temple of the monastery became dominant in the spiritual life of the city.

The cathedrals were actively decorated, and the gilded domes did not just appear: they were visible for many kilometers, and they were a "guiding star" for travelers and lost souls. The temple in its splendor should remind people that earthly life is nothing, and only God's beauty, which was the church, can be considered true.


The gates, which in the fortified villages were up to four (on the sides of the world), was given, strangely enough, of great importance. As the only passage to the ancient Russian city, they represented a huge symbolic meaning: "to open the gate" meant to give the city to the enemy.

The gates tried to decorate as much as possible, but it is better to make from at least one a front entrance through which the prince and noble people would enter. They had to instantly shake the stranger and testify to the prosperity and happiness of the local residents. The good finish of the gate was not spared neither money nor strength, often repaired them all over the city.

It was also considered to be a sacred place, which was defended not only by the earthly troops, but also by the saints. In the rooms above the gate often there were many icons, and right next to them was a small chapel, the purpose of which was to save the entrance of the Will of God.


A small area, usually near the river (near them the majority of settlements were based) was a necessary part of economic life. Old Russian cities of Russia could hardly exist without trade, the main ones in which were the merchants.

Here, at the auction, they placed and unloaded their goods, here were the main transactions. Often, already spontaneously, there was a market. Not the one where the peasants traded, but the rich, created for the city elite with a lot of foreign goods, expensive jewelry. He represented not a symbolic, but a true "quality mark" of the settlement. It was on bargaining that it was possible to understand how rich the settlement is, because the merchant will not be idle there where there is no profit.


The embodiment of secular power was the residence of a prince or viceroy. It was not only the residence of the ruler, but also an administrative building. Here, various legal issues were resolved, the court passed, the army gathered before the campaigns. Often this was the most fortified place in the city, with a protected inner courtyard, where all residents had to flee in the event of a military threat.

Around the chambers of the ruler were less wealthy boyar houses. Most often they were wooden, unlike the prince's house, which could afford a stone masonry. Old Russian cities were architecturally rich precisely because of the dwellings of the nobility, who tried to decorate their house as much as possible and show material prosperity.

The common people were housed in separate wooden single-story houses or huddled in barracks, which often stood on the very edge of the city.


As already mentioned, the cities of the ancient Russian state were created, first of all, to protect people. For this, fortifications were organized.

Initially, the walls were wooden, but over time, more and more often appeared stone protective structures. It's clear that only wealthy princes could afford such a "pleasure". The fortifications, created from heavy, pointed logs, were called jigs. A similar word originally meant each city in the Old Russian language.

In addition to the stockade, the settlement was protected by an earthen rampart. In general, most of the settlements appeared already in favorable strategic points. In the lowland, the city would not last long (before the first military conflict), and therefore most often they were based on high points. We can say that we do not know anything about poorly fortified settlements, because they instantly disappeared from the face of the earth.


For modern, very chaotic and confused settlements, this sample is an ancient Russian city. Fortress, In which most of the population lived, was really skillfully and accurately planned, as nature itself would dictate.

In fact, the cities of that time were a round shape. In the middle, as already mentioned, two important centers rose: spiritual and secular. This is the main cathedral and the prince's estate. Around them, spiraling, went the rich houses of the boyars. Thus, wrapping, for example, a hill, the city descended lower and lower, to the walls. Inside, it was divided into "streets" and "ends", which were threaded through spirals and went from the gate to the main center.

Later, with the development of settlements, the workshops, which were originally outside the main line, were also walled, creating secondary fortifications. Gradually, with the course of centuries the cities grew like this.


Undoubtedly, the modern capital of Ukraine is the most famous ancient Russian city. In it you can find confirmation of all the theses mentioned above. In addition, it must be considered the first truly large fortified settlement in the territory of the Slavs.

The main city, surrounded by fortifications, was on a hill, and Podol occupied workshops. There, next to the Dnieper, was a bargaining. The main entrance to Kiev, its main entrance is the famous Golden Gate, which, it was said, had not only practical, but sacred significance, especially since they are named after the gates of Constantinople.

The Cathedral of St. Sophia became the spiritual center of the city. It was to him that other churches and churches stretched, which he surpassed both in beauty and in grandeur.

Thanks to this, Kiev can be considered an ideal illustration of how the ancient Russian cities looked.

Velikiy Novgorod

Old Russian cities of Russia can not be listed without mentioning Veliky Novgorod. This densely populated center of the principality served the most important goal: it was an extremely "European" city. It was here that diplomats and merchants from the Old World flocked, as Novgorod was in the middle of the trade routes of Europe and the rest of Russia.

The main thing that we have now received thanks to Novgorod is an incomparably large number of different historical monuments of the architecture of ancient Russia. A unique opportunity to see them right now, having bought a ticket for a plane, is because Novgorod was not destroyed and was captured during the Mongol yoke, although it paid an exorbitant tribute.

The so-called "Novgorod Kremlin", or Novgorod Detinets is widely known. These fortifications for a long time served as a reliable fort for the great city. In addition, we can not fail to mention the Yaroslavovo dvorishche - a huge area of Novgorod on the bank of the Volkhov, where there was a bargaining and many houses of various wealthy merchants. In addition, it is assumed that it was there and the monastery of the prince, although it was not possible to find it in Veliky Novgorod, perhaps because of the absence in the history of the settlement of the whole princess system as such.


The history of ancient Russian cities, of course, can not be described without the presence on the list of such a grandiose settlement as Moscow. It was able to expand and become the center of modern Russia due to its unique location: virtually every large northern trade route passed by it.

Of course, the main historical landmark of the city is the Kremlin. It is with him that now the first associations arise at the mention of this word, although initially it meant simply "fortress". Initially, as for all cities, Moscow's defense was wooden and much later acquired a familiar look.

In the Kremlin is also the main temple of Moscow - the Assumption Cathedral, which is perfectly preserved to our days. Its appearance literally embodies the architecture of its time.

The result

Many names of ancient Russian cities were not heard here, however, they were not intended to create their list. Three are enough for a visual demonstration of how conservative Russian people were in setting up settlements. And do not say that this quality they had undeservedly, no, the appearance that the city had, was dictated by the very nature of survival. The plan was as practical as possible and, in addition, created a symbol of the real center of the region, to which fortified settlements and were. Now such a construction of cities is no longer relevant, but it is possible that one day they will speak about our architecture the same way.

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