A hundred kilometers to the east from St. Petersburg, at the place where the Volkhov river falls into Ladoga Lake, a small village of Old Ladoga is located. However, in spite of its small size, the village (former town) has a great historic value, as Old Ladoga is the oldest city in Russia.
Historians are rather uncertain about the date of its foundation, but all of them agree that Old Ladoga was founded not later than in 753. It is more than 100 years earlier than the foundation of Novgorod the Great, which was the first seat of the princes from the Ryurik dynasty, until it was moved to Kiev, and the state was given the name of Kievan Rus.
Some think that Derbent is the oldest city in Russia, which is on the territory of today Dagestan. It was founded in the 6th century B.C. However, Caspian lands with Derbent were included in the Russian Empire in the 19th century, and the formation of the Russian nation began only a thousand years after the foundation of Derbent. And Old Ladoga is the first town that was founded by the Russian tribes, and from which the formation of the Russian nation began.
Now there are located two monasteries on the small territory of Old Ladoga: St. Nicholas Monastery and Assumption Convent. St. Nicholas Monastery was founded by Alexander Nevsky in 1240 to commemorate the victory over the Swedish armies during the Battle of the Neva.
But, of course, the most important historic sight of Old Ladoga is the Old Ladoga fortress. The same first town of Russia that scientists dispute about was founded just on this place, although the remnants of the fortress date back to the 12 century, with significant rebuilds of the 15 century. But this doesn’t diminish the significance of Old Ladoga, as for several centuries the fortress with the trading quarter was one of the most important towns in Russia.
Inside the walls there is another important historic sight of Old Ladoga – St. George Cathedral of the 12 century. It looks very much like the churches of Novgorod the Great, as well as the churches built about that time in the towns of the Golden Ring: Pereslavl-Zalessky and Suzdal. In the cathedral there remained the original painting of St. George the Victor dating back to the 12 century, where the saint martyr pacifies the Dragon by the power of pray.
Presently, the Old Ladoga fortress is actively restored. In some places there remained the old masonry of the 12 century, but as a whole the fortress was restored by the old drawings. Today on the bank of the Volkhov river you can see two massive towers and fortified walls.