Friday was nearly as cool as Thursday's adventures in the storage area. I woke up ridiculously early to meet the other art students at their dorm (it takes me about an hour to get there from my dorm), then we all got on a bus and drove for three hours to the city of Novgorod. Novgorod was once a capital of Russia, and its historic area has one of the largest concentrations of early orthodox churches in the country. This is because it's locations high in the European plains of Northwest Russia made it difficult for the Mongolians to attack, so it survided their invasion centuries ago. And though a lot of the city was destroyed during WWII, many of the early churches are still standing, and you can still see a lot of ancient icons and frescoes. I can't remember the names of all the churches we visited, but it was definitely awesome. One of them wasn't an operational church anymore, but they were excavating (I think that's the right word for what they were doing) inside, and we got to go in and see the frescoes that they had uncovered. Theodoros the Greek was documented as the artist commissioned for the frescoes, and it was neat to see them uncovering some of the more important images in Russian art history.
We also visited the Museum of Popular Wooden Architecture, which is this open-air museum where they've gathered together a bunch of examples of wood churches and houses from the 16th to the 19th century. They built these buildings without a single nail! It was awesome.
From there we walked across the river to the Novgorod Kremlin and visited the Museum of Russian Icons. That was really cool - they had the oldest surviving icon on display.
There was so much to see in Novgorod - we only spent 8 hours there, but we saw so much. And I felt like we got a lot of behind-the-scenes view of some of these places.
Hopefully the rest of our excursions will be as cool as this one! We still have a trip to Moscow in a few weeks (that will be a full weekend) and trips to Peterhof and a couple of other places. Everyone needs to visit this city at some point - it is simply fantastic.
Now I'm off to watch an airshow - the Red Bull plane is supposed to be flying here tonight!