The border town of Narva and its attractions
Narva is the easternmost city of Estonia and the entire European Union, separated from Russia by a small river of the same name. On the opposite bank is the Russian Ivangorod, connected to Narva by the Friendship Bridge. The stern-looking city retained the memory of its important military and strategic significance; about the numerous battles, played out under its walls. Now there are just over 60 thousand people living in the city, of which 90% are Russians.
The official date of foundation of the city is 1223. In even earlier times, the famous route from the Varangians to the Greeks passed through these places, and from XIII to the middle of the XIV century, the fortress founded here belonged to Denmark. Then, for a whole century, until 1558, the land was owned by the powerful Livonian Order.
Lured Narva and Russian princes. Back in 1492, to fight against Livonia, the great Moscow Prince Ivan III erected in front of Narva, the fortress Ivangorod, named after him. In 1558 the grandson of Ivan III, the first Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible, took possession of Narva. However, in 1581, the Swedes seized both cities, which then tried to win back both Boris Godunov and Peter I. The first siege of Narva in 1700 by Peter the Great ended in a crushing defeat. Only in 1704 she became Russian.
After the construction of Kronstadt, Narva lost its strategic importance and became a peaceful industrial city. In the middle of the 19th century, the Krengolm weaving manufactory, which was huge in scale, was opened here. Now the complex of buildings of the manufactory is one of the attractions of the city.
At the end of 1917, Narva was transferred from the Petersburg Province to the Province of Estland, and in February 1918 it was incorporated into the self-proclaimed Estonian Republic. However, in March 1918, Narva was occupied by German troops, but at the end of November of the same year it was captured by the Red Army. The following milestones in the history of the city:
- from January 1919 — as part of the Republic of Estonia;
- from July 1940 — as part of the Estonian SSR, which became part of the USSR in August of the same year;
- in August 1941 — the occupation by the German troops;
- July 26, 1944 — the release of the Red Army;
- from 1944 to 1991 — as part of the USSR;
- from 1991 to this day — as part of the Republic of Estonia.
Sights of Narva
Centuries and wars did not spare the city, but despite this, there are many interesting places in the city that are worth seeing. Narva is a popular tourist destination in Estonia, especially among Russians.
Narva emerged and existed for a long time as a major strategic point, therefore there are many defensive structures among its remaining architectural monuments.
The main attraction of the city is the medieval citadel of the fortress, nicknamed «the castle of Herman» and built in the XIII — XV centuries. It rises on the banks of the River Narva, known for its burrowing, which, perhaps, explains its name. During the Second World War, the castle and fortress were badly damaged, but in the 1950s their restoration began, which continues to this day.
The ancient fortress was a stone structure with a tower and walls 40 meters high. After it was completed the courtyard, in which in the days of hostilities citizens were hiding. The city castle and other fortifications were constantly strengthened and rebuilt. Thanks to the efforts of the Swedes first, and then the Russians, Narva became in the XVIII century a city with the most powerful defensive system in Eastern Europe.
Now, in the oldest wing of the castle is the Narva City Museum, whose visitors can not only see the most interesting exposition, but also make souvenirs with their own hands, using tools and technologies of the 17th century.
Almost all of the 9 bastions of the city have reached the present day in varying degrees of preservation. Narva fortifications have powerful external walls three meters thick, high front walls with tunnels and casemates.
The most fortified bastion of Victoria is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Now it is home to the largest colony of bats in the city, and on the territory of the bastion, near the river, in the 19th century, a park was established, called the Dark Garden because of its proximity to the Dark Gate. This is the oldest park of Narva and one of the favorite places of recreation for citizens. In the Dark Garden trees grow over 100 years old. There are several interesting monuments in and around the park:
- «Swedish Lion» — a sculptural image of a lion, established in memory of the battle of Swedish and Russian troops near Narva in 1700. This monument is a replica of the lion guarding the Royal Palace in Stockholm;
- cast-iron cross on a stone pedestal — a monument in honor of the dead Russian soldiers during the storming of Narva in 1704;
- the tomb of the dead fighters during the 1918 Liberation War.
In the building of the powder barn of the Gloria bastion there is an Art Gallery. The gallery contains paintings from the collection of Russian art of the merchant Lavretsov, a collection of porcelain, works of art of religious purposes, and wooden medieval sculpture. The gallery funds are constantly replenished with works of modern Estonian artists.
The most significant urban events take place in the courtyard of the Narva Castle: the Mravinsky International Music Festival, the City Day, the historical festival, open-air concerts, etc.
Temples of Narva
All Christian denominations are represented in the city: Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism. Narva was famous for its temples, but, however, many of them were destroyed. Today in the city you can look at the following religious buildings:
- Alexander Lutheran Church, which was built in the 1880s in honor of the Russian Emperor Alexander II. The temple was built for Lutheran workers who worked at the Krenholm Manufacture, and before the war was the largest in Estonia;
- The Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral was built at the end of the 19th century for Orthodox workers of the manufactory. Made in neo-Byzantine style. It is an active Orthodox church. Among the shrines of the cathedral is the miraculous icon of the Kazan Mother of God;
- The Church of the Holy Trinity is the tomb of the Shtiglitz family and the Polovtsov family. Built in the 1870s in the style of Russian historicism, dating back to the traditions of Russian architecture of the XVII century.
Before World War II, Narva was called the “Pearl of the Baroque Baltic Sea”. Alas, during the war the city was severely destroyed, and only 16 historical monuments survived. However, those that remained are quite enough for an interesting walk around the city.
The second, after the castle of Hermann, the symbol of the city is the Narva Town Hall. It was built on the initiative of the Swedish king in 1668 in the style of Dutch classicism and is a strict, majestic building with an openwork tower with a spire and weather vane in the form of a crane. On the front of the facade are a large clock.
For many years, the famous Krengolm weaving manufactory was famous as Narva. In 1900, the products of this manufactory were awarded the Grand Prix at the World Exhibition in Paris. The complex of buildings of the manufactory, built in the XIX century, is a monument of architecture and history of the city and consists of residential, administrative and industrial buildings.
At one time, the integral town-planning ensemble of the manufactory was conceived as an industrial city of the future, and the newest technologies were used in its construction.
In order to create this complex, an original architectural style has been developed related to the traditions of Narva architecture.
On the territory of the manufactory there are waterfalls. Before the advent of production, these were natural cascades, very full-flowing, but now they are formed due to the dumping of the reservoir of the local hydroelectric station.
Among other interesting sights of the city include:
- gymnasium building, or the house of Baron von Velio. Built at the beginning of the XIX century in the style of classicism;
- The Friendship Bridge is an automobile-pedestrian bridge connecting Narva and Ivangorod, Estonia and Russia. Erected in 1960. Every day, this bridge is crossed by thousands of cars and 10 thousand people;
- The embankment of the city with an amazing view of Ivangorod, the Dark Garden and the stairs of Ghana — one of the best observation platforms of Narva.
The uniqueness of Narva is in its border position. It is, in fact, a meeting place and the interpenetration of two cultural worlds: Europe and Russia, the West and the East.
There is not a single war in the history of Estonia that was not connected with Narva. But now the quiet and tranquil city of Narva and the sights that have miraculously survived the battles are worth it for tourists to spend one or several days here.