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(pəskôf`), city (1989 pop. 204,000), capital of Pskov region, NW European Russia, on the Velikaya River. It is an important rail junction in the heart of a flax-growing area. Industries include food processing and the manufacture of metals, machinery, building materials, and linen. Known in antiquity as Pleskov, it became (903) an outpost of Novgorod. Its large-scale stone construction, almost equal in extent to that of Novgorod, shows that it was already a rich town in the 12th cent. Pskov became (1347) an independent, democratic city-state and a flourishing commercial center that traded with the Hanseatic League. It was capital of Pskov Republic from 1348 to 1510 and had a form of government similar to that of Novgorod. With its annexation (1510) by Moscow, Pskov lost its democratic institutions. Its importance, except as a strategic fortress, soon declined. The railroad station at Pskov was the scene (1917) of the abdication of Nicholas II. The historic core of Pskov is the inner walled city, containing a kremlin (12th–16th cent.), with towers in the Byzantine style, a cathedral, and numerous medieval churches and monasteries. The country around Pskov is rich in architectural monuments from the 14th to the 18th cent.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city and the administrative center of Pskov Oblast, RSFSR. Situated at the confluence of the Velikaia River (which flows into Lake Pskov) and the Pskova River, the city is a highway junction and a nexus of railroad lines to Leningrad, Vilnius, Bologoe, and Riga. Population, 146,000 (1974; 43,200 in 1926,60,000 in 1939, and 81,000 in 1959).

Pskov is first mentioned in the Tale of Bygone Years (Laurentian Chronicle) under the year 903. In the 12th century it was part of the Novgorod Feudal Republic, and in 1348 it became the capital of the Pskov Feudal Republic, an independent principality. From the 13th to the 16th century Pskov was a major trade, economic, and cultural center. Chronicle and beresto writing flourished in Pskov, and the city’s architecture and painting constituted one of the principal schools of Old Russian art. Pskov was a military outpost in the Russian people’s struggle against the aggression of the German feudal knights (the Livonian Order from the mid-13th century) and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; the city successfully withstood 26 sieges.

In 1510, Pskov was incorporated into the centralized Russian state. During the Livonian War (1558–83) the heroic Pskov Defense of 1581–82 foiled Báthory’s plans of conquest. The growing class conflicts in the 17th century kindled two major uprisings, one lasting from 1608 to 1611 and the other occurring in 1650. In the late 17th century Pskov began to lose its economic preeminence, but with the outbreak of the Northern War of 1700–21 its importance as a defensive stronghold increased. In 1777 it became a provincial capital. The founding of St. Petersburg hastened Pskov’s economic decline, and after the incorporation of Byelorussia within Russia at the end of the 18th century, the city also lost its importance as a military fortress. In the 19th and early 20th centuries Pskov was a provincial capital with poorly developed flax, leather, and ceramic industries.

V. I. Lenin lived in Pskov from Feb. 26 to May 19,1900, during which time he was under secret police surveillance. In April he called a conference of revolutionary and legal Marxists to discuss the publication of the newspaper Iskra. A Social Democratic organization was formed in Pskov in the summer of 1903. During World War I the General Staff of the Northern Front had its headquarters in the city from late 1915, and a 30,000-man garrison was stationed there. On Mar. 2 (15), 1917, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated in Pskov, and a soviet was formed in the city two days later. Soviet power was established on Oct. 26 (Nov. 8), 1917. Pskov was occupied by German troops from Feb. 26 to Nov. 25,1918.

On July 9,1941, during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) the city was captured and occupied by fascist German forces, who destroyed industrial enterprises and works of cultural and historical significance. Liberated by the Soviet Army on July 23, 1944, Pskov has been the oblast’s administrative center since Aug. 23,1944.

Pskov is an important industrial center. Its machine-building industry, the leading sector, produces electrical equipment, radio components, telephone equipment, long-distance telecommunication equipment, and machinery for manufacturing artificial and synthetic fibers. Light industry (especially flax processing) and the food-processing industry are well developed, and building materials are also produced. The city’s educational institutions include a pedagogical institute and a branch of the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute; industrial, construction, cooperative, and sovkhoz technicums; and medical, music, and cultural-education schools. There are two theaters, a museum-preserve of the history of art and architecture, the V. I. Lenin House Museum, and the V. I. Lenin Museum Apartment.

As of Jan. 1, 1974, Pskov had 11 hospitals with 2,800 beds (19.1 per 1,000 inhabitants) and 749 physicians (one per 195 inhabitants). There is a children’s sanatorium here, and 75 km away is the balneological health resort of Khilovo.

The Velikaia and Pskova rivers divide the city into three parts: the center (the heart of Pskov), situated on the right bank of the Velikaia River, the Zavelich’e (Trans-Velikaia district) on the left bank of the Velikaia, and the Zapskov’e (Trans-Pskov district) on the right bank of the Pskova. The oldest part of Pskov and its historical center, the kremlin (known as the krom), situated at the confluence of the Velikaia and Pskova rivers, was enclosed by stone fortifications in the 13th century. The south wall of the kremlin, called Pershi, was rebuilt in 1337, in 1393–94, and between 1400 and 1425. (Within the kremlin stands Trinity Cathedral, built between 1682 and 1699.) As Pskov grew, fortress walls of local stone or wood (and later replaced by stone) were built around the newer districts: Dovmontov Town (1266), Srednii Town (stone wall built in 1309–75), Zapskov’e (stone wall, 1465), and Okol’nyi Town (stone wall, 1465). During the 16th century the city walls, by now extending for 9 km, were strengthened and widened, and enormous towers, such as the Gremiachaia (1524), were built.

Pskov’s oldest buildings, closely resembling those of the Novgorod school, are the great cathedrals of the city’s three monasteries: the Mirozha (prior to 1156), St. John the Baptist (prior to 1243), and Snetogorskii (1310, with frescoes from 1313). Between the 14th and 16th centuries limestone was used to build small parish churches with bell towers having two, three, or five apertures. The most notable of these characteristically Pskovian churches are the Church of St. Basil at Gorki (1413), the Church of St. Cosmos and St. Damian at Primost’e (1463), the Church of St. George at Vzvoz (1494), the Uspenie Church at Paromen’e (1444, rebuilt 1521), and the Church of St. Nicholas at Usokhi (1536). The stone residences of the 16th and 17th centuries are best exemplified in the three-story Pogankin Palace (prior to 1645) and the Lapin (Solodezhnia) and Trubinskii houses (1670’s and 1680’s). Plans for a regular layout were adopted in 1778, and thereafter two-story stone and wooden houses, closely adhering to classical models, were built along the main streets.

After the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), Pskov was built up in accordance with the general plan for restoration and development worked out in 1945 by N. V. Baranov, A. I. Naumov, and other architects. A new general plan, whose principal architects were G. P. Borenko and N. V. Baranov, was adopted in 1971. The location of noteworthy architectural works is taken into account in building apartment houses and public buildings. Large-scale housing construction has been restricted mainly to the Zapskov’e and Zavelich’e districts.

Pskov’s monuments include statues of Lenin on Nekrasov Street near the House of Soviets (1945, sculptor M. G. Manizer) and on Lenin Square next to the pedagogical institute (1960, sculptor G. E. Arapov, architect P. S. Butenko), both executed in bronze and granite. In 1969 a monument was erected in honor of the Red Army’s first victories near Pskov in 1918 (reinforced concrete, principal architect I. D. Bilibin); its reliefs of hammered copper were executed by the sculptor G. I. Motovilov.


V. I. Lenin ipsovskii krai: Dokumenty, stat’i. [Leningrad] 1971.
Novikov, V. I. V. I. Lenin i pskovskie iskrovtsy [2nd ed.]. Leningrad, 1972.
Spegal’skii, Iu. P. Pskov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
Pskov: Spravochnik dlia turistov. Leningrad, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a city in NW Russia, on the Velikaya River: one of the oldest Russian cities, at its height in the 13th and 14th centuries. Pop.: 203 000 (2005 est.)
2. Lake. the S part of Lake Peipus in NW Russia, linked to the main part by a channel 24 km (15 miles) long. Area: about 1000 sq. km (400 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005