Saint Sophia Cathedral at Novgorod Kremlin.

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Cathedral of St Sophia

Top choice in Veliky Novgorod

This is the oldest church in Russia (finished in 1050) and one of the country's oldest stone buildings. It's the kremlin's focal point and you couldn't miss it if you tried – its golden dome positively glows. St Sophia houses many icons dating from the 14th century, but none are as important as that of Novgorod's patron saint, Our Lady of the Sign, which, the story goes, miraculously saved the city from destruction in 1170 after being struck by an arrow.

The cathedral's domes were probably added during the 14th century – they are perhaps the first example of this most Russian of architectural details. The west doors, dating from the 12th century, have tiny cast-bronze biblical scenes and portraits of the artists.

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