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is one of the most ancient Russian towns, mentioned in the chronicles in 862.

The general sights of the town are the ancient stone fortress, the Nikolsky cathedral (the 14th century), the church of Sergij (the 17th century), the chapel of the icon of Korsunskaja Bogomater (the 19th century).

The general description

The fortress on the Zheravievaja mountain.
In about thirty kilometres along a highway to the west from Pskov the large village Izborsk, famous by its ancient fortress, is located. It is named also Staryj (Old) Izborsk to distinguish it from Novyj (New) Izborsk located in some kilometres to the north, which was founded already in the 19th century as a station of a railway. The Pechora district of Pskov area, including Izborsk, is located in western territory of Russia near the frontier of Estonia.

The village Izborsk lies on plain and is built up mainly by wooden one-storeyed houses of recent construction, but among them there are also more ancient log huts with framework of huge logs, with archaic systems of roofs, with stone economic buildings and fencing with arch gates attached to them. In the north-west the magnificent view to Izborskaja hollow with the Gorodischenskoje lake opens. This lake is connected with the river of Skhodnitsa and the Malskoje lake, located farther to the north-west. Here near the border of the hollow among picturesque nature the famous rests of the town Truvorov and the fortress are located.

It is considered, that Izborsk is more ancient than Pskov, the local inhabitants are proud of this fact. It is proved also by numerous archaeological finds, and the local peasants during ploughing find ancient necklaces, bracelets and other ornaments and subjects of use, and the weapon.

The fortress Izborsk defended western boundaries of Russia in centuries-old battles. Till now the fortress walls and towers, becoming already a part of a landscape, amaze our imagination by their beauty and power. There was famous Russian painter N. K. Rerikh, he admired these places. He was inspired by the image of ancient fortifications to creation of the pictures devoted to ancient Russia.

Today the town is silent. Nothing prevents quiet contemplation. And only imagination can reproduce thunder of guns, singing of arrows, shouts and moans of battling people, smoke of fires... .

Pages of history

The view to the fortress of Izborsk from the field part.
As archaeologists testify, these places were manned in epoch of neolith. This territory is rich by good building materials - high-grade quartz sand and gravel. Under the legend, the initial name was "Slovensk" on the name of Novgorodian Sloven, founded this settlement, but the name of his son Izbor, early lost, was fixed. For the first time Izborsk was mentioned in chronicles in 862. Truvor, the younger brother of Rurikh, was the prince of Izborsk, about this tells the name "rests of the town Truvorov" - the most ancient fortified settlement of Izborsk. The legend was fixed by empress Ekaterina II, lorded it over to rap out a medal in honour of Truvor with the image of Truvorov barrow.

During almost all its history Izborsk was closely connected with Pskov. Izborsk was its advanced post met an enemy from the west. Pskov, in turn, helped it by troops and builders, for Izborsk always was in battle readiness.

From the beginning of the 13th century German knights tried to win western Russian grounds, and after creation of Livonia order in 1237 the aggressive pressing to boundary towns was amplified. In 1240 as a result of persistent and bloody battle Izborsk was seized, the support of Pskov didn't help. However in 1242 the German knights were banished from Pskov and Izborsk, and during the famous battle on ice of Chudskoje lake the incorporated troops under the command of Aleksandr Nevsky defeated the enemy.

The Talavskaja tower (Ploskusha).
However, though the ancient town of town was located on the perfectly chosen strategic site, it was too small, that didn't allow to place here enough troops and to give the protection to the people. The inhabitants of Izborsk began to search for a new place for a fortress. In 1303, as the chronicles say, Izborsk was founded on the Zheravjevaja (Zhuravlinaja) mountain, and the new place was chosen very successful. At first the fortress constructed here was wooden with one stone tower, then in 1330 the stone walls were constructed. By the beginning of the 16th century the fortress stood eight sieges.

Especially long and persistent was the siege of Izborsk in 1349, as a result of which Livonia knights, failing to take a possession of the fortress, left at its walls a lot of warriors and, receding, destroyed all their besiege machines and ammunition. And in 1368 the large forces of Germany for 18 days hollowed walls, but not achieving success.

However in the end of the 14th century Livonia was activated in aspiration to seize Pskov and Novgorod grounds, and at this time the fire-arms was invented. There was a necessity to strengthen the fortress, and this was made by thickening of the walls and the construction of the powerful stone towers. Just this fortress was survived to our times without essential changes.

The fortress of Izborsk played a considerable role during Livonia war, in the beginning of which the Pechora fortress was constructed in 22 kilometers to the wets from Izborsk. Together with the Pskov fortress Izborsk and Pechora repulsed the attacks of numerous troops of Stefan Batorij in 1581. After the ending of the Northern war Russia removed its western borders.

The Izborsk fortress lost gradually its strategic importance. It was left by the battle garrison, nobody repaired and renew its walls and towers, nobody cleaned the moat before its western frontal wall... The warrior retired and tells silent about former battles.

Places of interest

The Nikolskaja church on the rests of the town. The 17th century.
The strong impression makes the barrow of ancient Truvorov town. Triangular cape of a high plateau, inverted to the north, to the Izborskaja hollow, is above environmental district. From it the magnificent view to the Gorodischenskoje and Malskoe lakes opens, thus the Gorodischenskoje lake almost closely approaches from the east to the cape. From the north and the west there is the deep ravine. From the south, where there isn't natural protection, in an antiquity the artificial mound of the form of horseshoe and the moat of the same form were arranged. They are well visible, though are strongly destroyed by time. For a long time it was considered, that the settlement had only wooden and earthen fortifications. However, archaeological excavation here found out stone walls of the 11-12 centuries, and on the cape they found out a stone tower.

At the east extremity of the horseshoe mound there is Nikolskaja church constructed already in times, when the Truvorovo settlement lost its importance, though, probably, earlier on this place there was other church.

Only in half-kilometer to the east from the rests of Truvorov town on the stony cape of Zheravjevaja mountain in the beginning of the 14th century the stone fortress was founded. During its existence it repeatedly became stronger by new, more powerful defensive structures. The fortress represents a triangle with the round corners. The wall inverted to the west has the form of a convex arch. Four towers adjoin to it: Talavskaja - the sole rectangular tower; the tower of Vyshka - the highest and powerful, nowadays its height achieves 19 meters; the tower Rjabinovka; the tower Temnushka, protecting the front entrance in the fortress, from it the Nikolsky passage begins. This is long and narrow thoroughfare along the southern wall with an external and internal gate. In the southern part of the fortress the Kolokolnaja (Bell) tower is located. Almost up to the end of the 19th century above this tower there was white-stone belfry with powerful bell, announcing an approach of a danger. Its powerful vote was audible even in Pskov. And at last, sixth tower - Kukovka (or Lukovka) - is the most ancient. Formerly it belonged to the old wooden fortress, and later the stone walls bypassed the tower outside, and it appeared inside of the fortress. At one time it served as arsenal and had a gun cellar blocked by stone arch. On the eastern side of the fortress near the Kolokolnaja tower there is Tajnik (a Hiding Place) - inclined step gallery blocked by triangular arch and conducting to the well-spring, from which the people took water during sieges. Only once, in 1341, the Germans found out the hiding place, but it has not helped to them, and the siege was raised.

Inside the fortress, opposite to the Kolokolnaja tower, the Nikolcky cathedral is located. It is the monument of architecture of the first half of the 14th century with the belfry of the 19th century.

The Nikolsky cathedral. The 14th century.
In the 14th century the Rozhdestvenskaja (Christmas) church, former centre of the small Rozhdestvensky (Christmas) nunnery, constructed. And in the territory of the former settlement near the southern entrance in the fortress at the Nikolsky passage there is the small church of the 18th century with beautiful belfry.

It is necessary to pay attention to ancient graves with huge tombstones located at outside mound of the old town. The experts date these plates of the 14-15 centuries, and the mysterious geometrical figures on some of them allowed to state the assumption, that "a huge stone plate with square figure" can lay on the grave of any unknown foreman-builder working in this ancient Russian town in the 14-15th centuries.

If it is so, it would be fair. For the force and beauty of ancient walls, standing before us, forces to admire not only the heroism of our brave ancestors, but also their magnificent building art.

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P H O T O   G A L L E R Y
The chapel of the icon of the Korsunskaja God's Mother. The 19th century.
The tower of Temnushka.
The Nickolskie gates.
The monument to the inhabitants of Izborsk, lost during the Great Patriotic War.
The tower of Lukovka.