It is hard to say where the city of Veliky Novgorod ends and where the museum begins. About 50 of the most valuable monuments of ancient Russian architecture from the 11th–17th centuries have become a part of the city's contemporary living structure. When you walk around the city you can touch the rough walls of churches and see ancient frescoes. Novgorod Oblast contains centuries of history and rich cultural heritage that will be a true discovery for its visitors.
The chronicled history of Veliky Novgorod began at the same time as the history of Rus. This is where the first Russian books were written and the first birch bark manuscripts, that caused a sensation among archaeologists, were discovered. Here, in 1478, under the vaults of the Chamber of Facets, the name of the new state of Russia was declared for the first time.
The city's historical center—the Novgorod Kremlin—is the oldest fortress in Russia. In the heart of the Kremlin you can find the first Russian stone church—the Cathedral of St. Sophia—a unique collection of Russian icons and frescoes from the 11th–17th centuries, and the grand Monument to a Thousand Years of Russia, a sculptural composition that represents the most important events in the history of the Russian state.
Valday is a wonderful region of rivers, lakes, and forests. Valday has been famous for its bells for many years. The Valday Bell Museum contains the richest collection of bells from around the world.
The Valday National Nature Park contains 70 lakes, 20 rivers, rare plants and wildlife, about 500 archaeological, historical, and architectural monuments and numerous leisure camps.
The Valday Iversky Monastery, founded in 1653 by Patriarch Nikon, attracts pilgrims from all over the world. The monastery houses the miracle-working icon of the Blessed Virgin of Iver.
Staraya Russa is the only town in Russia that has kept the ancient name of the Slavic Rus people. It was first mentioned in chronicles from 1167. The town was founded because of the salt industry, which had been the main occupation of its inhabitants for many centuries. Water routes connecting the Baltic, Black, and Caspian seas met here; the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks crossed Russ and a trade route was provided from Kiev to Novgorod.
In the 19th century Staraya Russa was a famous European resort. Many famous Russians came here for cures, including members of the royal family. The world-famous composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff was born in the village of Semyonovo, Starorussky district.
The town of Borovichi stands on the Msta River, famous for its rapids that flows into Lake Ilmen. Since ancient times, a trade route has passed along the Msta River, connecting Novgorod lands with the Volga and the Caspian Sea. The river is famous today for water tourism routes. The Msta rapids are well known by lovers of extreme sports. The routes along the Msta River combine active and educational tourism.
Borovichi is home to the first arch bridge in Russia—an outstanding monument of Russian technology and the symbol of the town. The most interesting religious architectural monuments include: the ensemble of Monastery of the Holy Spirit from the 18th–19th centuries, the Trinity Cathedral built in 1863, the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary built in 1880 in the style of late classicism and the Virgin Mary of Tenderness Church of 1871 whose decoration copies the forms of ancient Russian and Byzantine monuments.
35 kilometers from Borovichi you can find the village of Konchanskoe-Suvorovskoe, which used to be the estate of the family of the Russian commander A. V. Suvorov.
Lyubytino is one of the oldest places in Novgorod, more than a thousand years old. It is unique for its unusually high concentration of archaeological monuments. In the very center of Lyubytino, by the bridge across the Msta River, you can find the so-called Pyramids of the North, the burial mounds of ancient Slavs that are 8–10 meters high. These hand-made hills, which must have been very difficult to build, were objects of worship in Pagan times. More than 200 of these mounds are known of different heights and not far from the village.
Since 2009, the village of Lyubytino has become a tourist center for Novgorod Oblast thanks to the new open-air museum 10th Century Slav Village.