Main Births etc
Staraya Russa
Старая Русса
—  Town  —
The medieval Transfiguration Monastery

Coat of arms of Staraya Russa

Staraya Russa is located in Novgorod Oblast
Staraya Russa
Coordinates: 57°59′N 31°21′E / 57.983, 31.35Coordinates: 57°59′N 31°21′E / 57.983, 31.35
Country Russia
Federal subject of Russia Novgorod Oblast
Rayon Staraya Russa
First mentioned 1167
 • Mayor Vladimir Stanislavovich Mamasuyev
 • Total 18.54 km2 (7.16 sq mi)
Elevation 25 m (82 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Total 32,235
Time zone MST (UTC+4)
Postcode 175200 ... 175207
Dialing code 7 81652
Vehicle registration 53
OKATO Code 49 413 000 000

Staraya Russa (Russian: Старая Русса) is a town in Novgorod Oblast, Russia, located 99 kilometers (62 mi) south of Veliky Novgorod. It is a wharf on the Polist River (Lake Ilmen basin). It serves as the administrative center of Staraya Russa Rayon, although administratively it is not a part of it. The population of the town was 32235 in 2010.

The town is served by the Staraya Russa Airport.

2003 commemorative coin of Staraya Russa


Thought to have originated in the mid-10th century, Staraya Russa was first mentioned in chronicles for the year 1076 as one of three main towns of the Novgorod Republic, alongside Pskov and Ladoga. Its name is derived from the time of the Varangians, who called themselves Rus and settled in the vicinity to control important trade routes leading from Novgorod to Polotsk and Kiev. After Pskov became independent, Russa became the most important town and trade center of the Novgorod republic except for the Novgorod itself; by the end of the 15th century it contained about 1000 homesteads. Brine springs made the saltworks principal business activity in the town that was the biggest centre of salt industry in the Novgorod Land.[1]

View of Staraya Russa from the bridge over the Polist River

The wooden fortifications of Russa burned to ashes in 1190 and 1194 and was replaced by the stone fortress after the last fire. In 1478, it was incorporated into Muscovy together with Novgorod. The word Staraya (Old) was prefixed to the name in the 15th century, to distinguish it from newer settlements called Russa.

When Ivan the Terrible ascended the throne, Staraya Russa was a populous city. During the Time of Troubles it was held by Polish brigands and heavily depopulated. Only 38 people lived there in 1613.

In 1824, Tsar Alexander I created the so-called military settlements near Staraya Russa, which would be a stage for an uprising in 1831 as part of the Cholera Riots. The town was fictionalized as Skotoprigonievsk in Dostoyevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov (1879–80). The Soviet authority in Staraya Russa was established on November 5(18), 1917. The city was occupied by the Germans between August 9, 1941 and February 18, 1944. Totally destroyed during the war, it was later restored.

Like much of Russia, Staraya Russa has seen its population decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Bridge over the Polist River


Staraya Russa is a balneologic resort, celebrated for its mineral springs used for baths, drinking, and inhalations; medicinal silt mud of the Lake Verkhneye and Lake Sredneye and mud from artificial reservoirs. A summer residence of the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who wrote there his novels The Brothers Karamazov and The Possessed, is open to visitors as a museum.

13th century Eleusa icon of the Holy Virgin from Staraya Russa

The ancient monuments include the Transfiguration monastery, with a cathedral built in 70 days in 1198, partly rebuilt in the 15th century, and several 17th-century buildings and churches. The principal city cathedral (1678) is dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ. Other notable churches are consecrated to St George (1410, family temple of the Dostoyevsky family), Mina the Martyr (14th century), and the Holy Trinity (1676).


  1. ^ Bernadsky, Viktor Nikolayevich (1961). Новгород и новгородская земля в XV веке (Novgorod and the Novgorod Land in XV century). Leningrad (Saint Petersburg): published by the USSR Academy of Sciences. pp. 134–144. 

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