Staraya Lagoda, on the west side of the Volkhov river, where it meets with the Ladoschka river, is one of the oldest settlements in Northern Russia, being founded by Norse settlers in 753.
The Baltic Finnic place-name Alode-joki (lowland river) became Aldeigja in Old Norse and later Lagoda in Old East Slavic. Staraya, which means old in Russia, was later added to the name.
In the 8th century it was a small market place, but by the 10th century it was a large fortified site (kremlin) occupied by warriors. In 862 the Viking king, Rurik, arrived in Lagoda on the request of the residents to restore order between the warring tribes. He made it his capital , although later moved to Kiev.
It was the first port of call for Vikings heading south from the Baltic through to Novgorod and onto Constantinople and the Caspian Sea. They also travelled down the Volgo river all the way to Baghdad. The town quickly became one of the most important trading ports of Eastern Europe.
By 760, wooden houses had been built in the town and some were associated with Viking objects. A magnificent hoard of smith’s tools was found amongst them, included tongs which still open and close.
The kurgans (burial mounds) are still preserved on the approach to the city. Many have been excavated and the local museum contains some of the finds, others being on display in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. These include a wooden stick which has skaldic verse (poetry composed for Viking chiefs) carved in twig runes, and a metal amulet which has a two-row runic inscription on both sides.
A huge stone fort was built in 1114, intended to repel attacks from Scandinavia. The citadel was rebuilt in the 15th century, with only a small piece of the earlier wall preserved.
The 12th-century Church of St George the conqueror also survives, with well-preserved frescos and a museum inside.
Subsequently, other, more magnificent 12th-century churches were constructed including the Church of the Assumption in the north of the town, the Church of St Nicholas the Miracle Worker, and the Church of St Clement which is the city's cathedral today.
Staraya Lagoda Historical, Architectural and Archaeological Museum Reserve
Today Staraya Ladoga is a village, but has recently been undertaking major restoration and reconstruction work to its important historical sights. The 160 acre Reserve includes over 150 historical and architectural monuments from the 8th to the 19th centuries. The museum contains a rich collection of archaeological and historical artefacts, an art gallery and a collection of frescos.
Season - Months Open
All year, daily 1 May-31 August, closed Mondays 1 September-30 April
Opening Hours - Days and Times
1 May - 31 May : daily 9.00-19.00
1 June - 31 August: daily, 9.00-18.00
1 September - 31 October: Tuesday to Sunday, 09.00-17.00
1 November 1 - 30 April, Tuesday to Sunday, 09.00-16.00
Grounds: RUB 20.00
Museum: RUB 150.00
Church of St. George: RUB 80.00
English language tour: RUB 1000.00 (by prior arrangement)
Accessibility note:Indoor exhibits are not wheelchair accessible, grounds are partially wheelchair accessible.