State historical-architectural, landscape and natural museum-preserve «Izborsk»

1 May 2013


Due to the improvement and preservation work being carried out in Izborsk fortress, please accept our apologies for temporary inconvenience! 

Nikolskiy zahab. A fortification structure in medieval fortresses, which used to protect the entrance gate. It is a long narrow corridor, connecting the outer gates of the fortress with the inner gates, leading inside the fortress. Zahab performed the function of additional protection and was a trap – the enemies, who managed to break through the outer gates, found themselves in a narrow corridor caught in a crossfire and suffered great losses. Nikolskiy zahab is 90 meters long.

Ploskaya tower was mentioned for the first time in the XVIth century chronicles. Until 1880-s its ruins could be seen above the ground level. After the wall of Nikolskiy zahab collapsed, the remains of the tower were covered by the stones from the broken wall and remained underground for over 100 years.

During archaeological excavations in 2011 archaeologists uncovered the lower part of the tower, the authentic stairs, 4 loopholes of the lower level, the wooden structure of a well, which used to exist in the ground level of the tower. These discoveries enable us to evaluate the fortification significance of this tower. In the second half of the XVIIth century the tower was one of the strongest towers of Izborsk fortress.

St.Nicholas cathedral. This cathedral was built inside the fortress by the main entrance. It has one apse, one dome on a thick drum, which is decorated with two rows of ornament. The walls of the church are built of limestone.

There is no exact date of the construction of the church. In Pskov chronicles the church was first mentioned in 1341 in connection with enemies’ attack on Izborsk: “... the Germans came to Izborsk with wall breaking devices and with the intentions to capture the town of st.Nicholas surrounded the town.” By 1349 the cathedral had already been built because in April Pskov prince Yuri and Pskov priests came to Izborsk to sanctify the small church of the Transfiguration which was constructed in the upper level of the church, next to the choir loft. In the XVI-XVIIth centuries a pillarless side church of the Transfiguration was attached to the church from the south. In 1849 a new bell tower was built to replace the dismantled belfry of Kolokolnaya tower.

         When Pskov archdiocese was established in 1589 the head of Pskov church received the title of the metropolitan of Pskov and Izborsk. This testifies to the fact that Izborsk had high status. St.Nicholaschurchbecameacathedral. Ithasbeenafunctioningchurchsinceitsconstruction.

Kolokolnaya tower is located in the center of the southern wall of the fortress, on the steep slope of the hill near the main entrance to the fortress and Nikolskiye gates.  Earlier on the upper tier of this tower there used to be a belfry for two bells, where the alarm bell used to hang. In the middle of the XIXth century the upper tiers of the tower together with the belfry were dismantled.   A new belfry was built adjacent to the church in 1849.

The diameter of the tower is 11 meters, its height is 12 meters and it has 4 tiers.

The secret passage to water. According to the tradition it was constructed by posadnik (mayor) Sheloga. This secret passage leads from the fortress wall down the hill to a spring-well, which used to be the source of water for the defenders of the fortress during sieges. This secret passage is a vaulted trench with steps, about 40 meters long. Its walls and the vault are built of limestone. In relationship to the ground level inside the fortress the secret passage goes 16 meters down.   

Lukovka (Kukovka) tower is the first stone fortification structure of Izborsk on Zheravia hill. The masonry of Lukovka tower is different from other towers, its walls are thinner. Its diameter is 9,5 m. The today’s height of the tower is about 13 m. The location of the tower inside the fortress is a unique phenomenon in the history of fortifications in the North West of Rus, because all the known Russian fortresses had the first tower built in the least protected parts of the fortress walls. When firearms appeared a storage place for guns and ammunition was cut in the   underground level of the tower.

Talavskiy zahab – is a long narrow corridor, which connected the outer fortress gates with the inner gates, leading inside the fortress. This zahab was 36 meters long and 4 meters wide. This corridor increased the defensive capacity of the fortress.   

Talavskaya tower, quadrangular in plan, was built in the second half of the XIVth century on the place of the original gates to Talavskiy zakhab. The tower had 5 tiers, its diameter being 9,3 m, the thickness of the walls is 1,8 m. The main peculiarity of the tower are the slit like loopholes, arranged in staggered rows, widening inside the tower. Such shape and location of the loopholes enabled the defenders of the fortress to shoot from cannons in every direction, the tower having almost no dead zone.

Vyshka is the tallest tower of the fortress.It is 19 meters high and has 6 tiers.The tower used to have a wooden upper structure – a watchtower (“vyshka”) which gave name to the tower itself. Vyshka is interesting due to its secret gate leading to the field, overlooking Ruabinovka tower. Through this gate the defenders of the fortress used to come out to get reconnaissance data and to fight with their enemies.   

Ryabinovka tower. It is 16 meters high and has 6 tiers. The walls of the lower tiers are thinner than the walls of the upper tiers. There were several loopholes in each tier located in radial order. This tower has two exits – one to the fighting platform on the fortress wall and the other one - on the ground level – leading inside the fortress.     

Temnushka tower is located near the entrance to the fortress.The height of the tower is 15 meters. It used to have 6 tiers.The loopholes of this tower used to be overlooking Ryabinovka tower and the main entrance, which enabled the defenders of the fortress to control the area near the main gates.The Tower got its name – Temnushka (the dark tower) probably due to the little amount of light penetrating inside the tower. This tower has the smallest number of loopholes and has no loopholes on the ground level.     

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