According to ancient chronicles, in the year 862 the Slavic tribes living around Lake Ilmen came together, having decided to govern themselves. It is believed that they later asked the Varagian chieftain Rurik to take charge. Debates as to who Rurik really was and whether or not local tribes actually asked him to rule the area continue today. Nevertheless, the origin of the Russian State has been marked by this union for hundreds and hundreds of years. The first city that Rurik, a representative of the dynasty of Russian tsars, ruled was Veliky Novgorod. The dynasty had ruled in Ancient Rus’ for about 700 years. Beginning in the 11th century, the historic city was the largest centre of Old Russian civilization and was home to the best these peoples had to offer including architecture, painting, and social and political organisations. Starting in the 12th century, Novgorod also helped to defend Rus’ in the fight against the Livonian Order and Scandinavians. Being part of the Principality of Moscow in the 15th century, these lands contributed a push towards the development of a new, powerful state – Russia. In their works, poets and writers present Veliky Novgorod as the embodiment of free will and republican freedoms. Economists admire how crafts and trade have flourished in the city. To learn more about the history of Veliky Novgorod, tune in to the Russian Travel Guide’s new programme.