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Visiting ancient Russian city of Pskov near Estonia (PICS)

I was sitting in taxi after weekend spent in Russian Pskov oblast, 4 hours ride from Saint Petersburg and I was complaining in my elementary russian to the driver about bad PR that Russia has in Europe. The driver had no clue what I was talking about, he didn't understand why he ought to speak english and he absolutely couldn't get my excitment over what I saw few hours prior to that. When I found almost no information about those cities, especially Pechory monastery on the Internet, I almost didn't go. After all, I have seen so many monasteries already. So there you go - rule #1 - from now on I will search for Russian travel information only at Yandex (russian search engine).
Let's start at the beginning. Trains to Pskov leave from Saint Petersburg's Vitebsky vokzal train station, the journey lasts 4 hours and is definitely worth it! Forget hotels, get yourself accommodation in typical Soviet apartment building. We paid 1200 rubles per night, but some went for as low as 800 rubles. After all it was a regular flat like back at home (in Slovakia), but you might be lucky and get something more russian with samovar or carpets on walls ;-) Even the suburbs looked just like in my hometown, I quickly bumped into cute russian things. Stuffed bears and wolves, dwarfs - those decorations you definitely can't find in our shopping centers! And don't even get me started about the food! 5 metres long shelves just for mayo (including that made of olive oil or quail eggs). Sanctions or no sanctions, russians love to eat and well, there is plenty to choose from, forget our media writing about national hunger. 

Packed with delicious food we went wandering around historical center of Pskov (Pleskov in old russian). This city has over 1100 years so it's one of the oldest in Russia, but for some time it belonged to other countries such as Lithuania. Despite having over 200 000 residents, center was empty, almost like in a horror movie. I wasn't sure whether that was due to the freezing weather (minus 7) or whether those ancient wooden houses are uninhabitable. The center has specific atmosphere. On one side over 300 historical sites, old rollercoasters and wooden bears and mushrooms in park just like in some russian traditional fairytale, on the other hand grafitti on walls such as "We want back USSR", many pictures of Lenin (this was one of his favourite cities) or "Russia to Russians".  

Reading the last I almost choked, because despite wearing local fur-caps I couldn't blend in. And thanks to russian reticence, one can feel very uncomfortable sometimes. I honestly pity everyone who comes here without basic knowledge of cyrillic. After all this is not Moscow or Saint Petersburg. On the other hand people here are very grateful for every penny (aka kopeyka) and will willingfully help tourists (even using hands and legs for communication as I was told!).  
At least we are lucky - it's freezing and that is good because the center is full of dirty (not concrete) roads and if it was raining we could hardly get anywhere.
                                                                                  The entrance to the Kremlin:
The city center is full of old wooden buildings like this one:         Church of St. Anastasia of Sirmium from 15th century:
Pskov was one of the most favourite cities of Lenin, on the right recent graffiti translated as "We want USSR back":
At least we got lucky - it was freezing and that was good because the center was full of dirty (not concrete) roads and if it was raining we could hardly get anywhere. The center is devided by Velikaya river and alongside it are all the interesting places. The main attraction is local Krom/Kremlin similar to the one in Moscow. It's encircled by massive walls that are around the whole center, some parts well preserved, others less so and some host pubs and restaurants. Inside the Kremlin there is Trinity's cathedral with remains of saint princes. Unfortunately one can't take pictures inside. Women have to wear headscarfs and men must have long pants even in summer. 

We arrived in late afternoon when cash register was already closed so we could enjoy the place empty just for ourselves and free of charge, furthermore with romantic sunset over the river. The stairs are huge and one can't just jump around the place so it took us over hour until we walked around Kremlin. The whole Pskov hides many cute churches with onion-like towers, unfortunately many are closed to the public. Mirozhsky monastery is definitely worth a visit for its byzantine frescos dating back to 12th century. Set at least 1 full day for the city center. One can make various trips from Pskov. Very popular are Pushkin hills, where the famous port owned several estates and where he created Eugen Onegin. We chose to take bus to 30km away to Izborsk and then another 30km to Pechory.    

Pskov Fortress

Pokrovskaya bastion (50m high, 90m circuit) with new wooden roof (old one was burnt 15 years ago), the walls are original:

Pskov city center

The city park was scary at some parts and then some parts were so cute, like this playground for kids with wooden bears and mushrooms:
Blue Assumption church, one of the 54 Pskov historical churches. It belongs to the few new churches as it was built in 19th century and for many years it was used as archives:
Pskov is a great mix of pre-war buildings with much older churches and communistic apartment buildings in suburbs.
With two captains from a children book by Pskov born author Kaverin:

Pskov Kremlin

The walls and towers of Pskov Kremlin with Trinity cathedral behind:
The walls of Pskov Kremlin stretch to 8 metres to height and 6 meters wide:
Kremlin tower, other two recently burnt:

Pskov churches, monasteries and others

View on Mirozhskyj monastery from Pokrovskaya bastion, devided by Velikaya river (meaning Big river). This is one of the oldest monasteries in Russia:
Interior of Pskov mall Imperial is decorated with stuffed bears (yesss that a lady bear in skirt :-), wolves, dwarfs and other subjects of russian fairytales:
Pokrova and Rozhdestva ot Proloma church: There is legend saying local blacksmith had a vision that an enemy will attack at this very place. People prepared and won and then built a church here. Its actually 2 churches together:
Older soviet apartment building:
I don't travel to see only nice things, I travel for authentic experience and sights, such as this:

This post first appeared on Girl's Trip Tips - Travel Blog Girl's Trip Tips, please read the originial post: here

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Visiting ancient Russian city of Pskov near Estonia (PICS)


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