Riddle for the tourist. Why are there two Rostovs and two Novgorods in Russia?

And our, and even more so foreign tourists (who during the 2018 World Cup left for the wrong city) are worried about a geographical mystery: why is there both Rostov-on-Don and Rostov the Great? Was the “upper” Novgorod, if there is Nizhny? Aif.ru decided to look into it.

Two Rostovs

In short: two Rostovs exist because the first — this is an ancient city, and the other — associated with the name of Metropolitan of Rostov and Yaroslavl Dimitri. And now more. 

It is believed that the origin of the word «Rostov» associated with the root grow-, growth- (“grow”, “grow”, “growth”), that is, go to growth, become more. Fasmer's dictionary connects this toponym with the one-root Slavic name Rost — short for “Rostislav”. Added the suffix “-ov” — became a possessive adjective. That is: whose? Rostov. 

Rostov-on-Don. Photo: www.globallookpress.com/Komsomolskaya Pravda

19th century branding

But the “great” Rostov officially began to be called only in the 20th century. It was, as we would now say, an attempt to brand the city. Historian and researcher at the State Museum-Reserve “Rostov Kremlin” C. V. Sazonov writes that the initiator of the idea of ​​​​the presence of the prefix “great” became Count Mikhail Vladimirovich Tolstoy. In the middle of the 19th century, this Russian church historian wrote that the toponym “Rostov the Great” was mentioned in the Ipatiev Chronicle. But this was the only case. Both in the documents of the 16th century, and in earlier sources, Rostov was simply Rostov. Therefore, the “Great” — it is rather a relatively innovative prefix. Which does not detract from the historical significance of this city.

The city in honor of the priest

But with Rostov-on-Don, everything is more clear. Initially, this place was called “Temernitskaya Customs”. It was a fortress city that protected the southern borders of the Russian Empire from the raids of the Turks and Crimean Tatars. On April 6, 1761, by decree of Elizaveta Petrovna, the fortress was given the name of Metropolitan of Rostov and Yaroslavl Dimitry, whom the Russian Orthodox Church canonized.

Later the name was transformed: the fortress of Dimitry of Rostov, the Rostov fortress, simply Rostov. Finally, in order to distinguish this outpost on the banks of the Don from the ancient Rostov the Great, which was near Yaroslavl, they began to call it Rostov-on-Don.

Novgorod the Great. Photo: www.globallookpress.com/Nikolay Gyngazov

Novgorod = New City

Novgorod — it is literally “new city”. Similar names exist in other countries: Naples, Newtown, Nove Mesto, Neustadt. 

Unlike Rostov, “Great” Novogorod was called for a long time. The epithet has appeared in chronicles and other sources since 1169. True, the toponym received its name from two parts not immediately. In 1914, the city council made an attempt to rename the city. But the First World War happened, later — revolution. As a result, the renaming of Novgorod to Veliky Novgorod took place almost today, in 1999.

Where is Upper Novgorod located?

Nizhny Novgorod was first called one-part — Novgorod. The name could refer both to the meaning of “new settlement” or be part of the opposition of a certain “upper city” located upstream of the Oka or Volga. This can be both Veliky Novgorod and the city of Gorodets. But why was the city given the definition of lower? According to one version, this is due to its location in the so-called Nizovsky land. So in the XII & XIII centuries. part of the Rostov-Suzdal Principality was named. 

Nizhny Novgorod. Photo: www.globallookpress.com/Roman Denisov

Bonus. Settlement and Gorodets

What is the “hillfort” that every now and then meets on the way of travelers? This word denotes the place where the city used to be, that is, a fortified settlement, even if it is small and with a fence made of a palisade. It comes from the word “city”. And & nbsp; in the Old Russian language «city» called not only large settlements with fortress walls. By origin, the word is related to the words “fence”, “enclose”; and was originally used in relation to fenced settlements in general. By the way, there is often a settlement near the settlement. It is also an archaeological term denoting an ancient (disappeared) unfortified settlement. 

Why are there so many gorodets in Russia?

There are several dozen toponyms in Russia with the name Gorodets — villages, villages, towns and, of course, a famous city in the Nizhny Novgorod region. Historically Gorodets — it is a small fortified city. In Dahl's dictionary, the word is listed as “town, fortress, fortified town, village.” 

Gorodets. Photo: www.globallookpress.com/Roman Denisov

Only in Russian chronicles, eight cities with this name are mentioned, located in different places in Russia. To distinguish, a clarification was added. For example, there were Gorodets Meshchersky (the current city of Kasimov), Gorodets Radilov (the city of Gorodets).

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