Volkhov River
Volkhov is a river in Novgorod Oblast
Novgorod Oblast
Novgorod Oblast is a federal subject of Russia , located between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Its administrative center is the city of Veliky Novgorod. Some of the oldest Russian cities, including Veliky Novgorod and Staraya Russa, are located there...

 and Leningrad Oblast
Leningrad Oblast
Leningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . It was established on August 1, 1927, although it was not until 1946 that the oblast's borders had been mostly settled in their present position...

 in northwestern Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...



The Volkhov flows out of Lake Ilmen
Lake Ilmen
Ilmen is a historically important lake in the Novgorod Oblast of Russia, formerly a vital part of the Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The city of Novgorod lies six kilometers below the lake's outflow....

 north into Lake Ladoga
Lake Ladoga
Lake Ladoga is a freshwater lake located in the Republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast in northwestern Russia, not far from Saint Petersburg. It is the largest lake in Europe, and the 14th largest lake by area in the world.-Geography:...

, the largest lake of Europe. It is the second largest tributary
A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean...

 of Lake Ladoga. It is navigable over its whole length. Discharge is highly variable depending primarily on the level of Lake Ilmen. The Volkhov is reported to reverse the direction of its flow in its upper section in exceptional circumstances. The river freezes up in late November, and breaks up in early April.

The level of water is regulated by the dam of the Volkhov hydroelectric plant
Volkhov hydroelectric plant
Volkhov hydroelectric plant , named after V.I. Lenin, is a hydroelectric station on the Volkhov River located in the town of Volkhov, Leningrad Oblast, in northwestern Russia. It is the oldest and longest serving hydroelectric plant in Soviet Union and Russia. It is a part of the Ladoga...

 (the first Soviet regional hydroelectric
Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy...

 dam opened on December 19, 1926 in the framework of the GOELRO plan
GOELRO plan was the first-ever Soviet plan for national economic recovery and development. It became the prototype for subsequent Five-Year Plans drafted by Gosplan...

) situated 25 km upstream from the mouth of the river. Apart from hydroelectric generating purposes, the dam serves to facilitate navigation in the lower part of the river previously known for its rapid
A rapid is a section of a river where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient causing an increase in water velocity and turbulence. A rapid is a hydrological feature between a run and a cascade. A rapid is characterised by the river becoming shallower and having some rocks exposed above the...


The upstream part of the Volkhov is connected to the Msta River
The 2S19 "MSTA-S" is a self-propelled 152 mm howitzer designed by Russia/Soviet Union, which entered service in 1989 as the successor to the SO-152...

 by the Siversov Canal bypassing Lake Ilmen. The downstream part is connected with the Neva, the Syas River
Syas River
Syas River is a river in the Novgorod and Leningrad Oblasts of Russia. The Syas River flows from Valdai Hills north into Lake Ladoga. A town of Syasstroy is located at its mouth. The largest tributary is Tikhvinka River...

, and the Svir River
Svir River
Svir is a river in the north-east of Leningrad Oblast, Russia. It flows from Lake Onega west to Lake Ladoga, thus connecting the two largest lakes of Europe. It is the largest river flowing into Lake Ladoga....

 by the New Ladoga Canal bypassing Lake Ladoga.

Main tributaries are: Vishera
Vishera River, Novgorod Oblast
Vishera is a river in Novgorod Oblast, Russia, a right tributary of the Maly Volkhovets River.It is formed by a confluence of the Malaya Vishera and the Bolshaya Vishera. It joins the Maly Volkhovets River, an eastern armlet of the Volkhov, some 10 km east of Velikiy Novgorod, at . Length:...

 (right), joins the Maly Volkhovets
Maly Volkhovets River
.Maly Volkhovets is a right armlet of the Volkhov River in Russia. It splits form the Volkhov 2 km below its outflow from the Lake Ilmen, bypasses the city of Veliky Novgorod , and rejoins the Volkhov north of the Khutyn Monastery. Its length is 17 km...

 armlet; Kerest (left); Oskuya (right); Pchezhva (right); Tigoda
Tigoda River
Tigoda is a river in Novgorod Oblast and Leningrad Oblast in Russia, a left tributary of the Volkhov River. It starts in swamps at the level of 55 meters near the Ogorelye station of the railroad connecting Velikiy Novgorod and Saint Petersburg , and joins the Volkhov at the level of 17 meters ....

 (left); Chyornaya (right); Vloya (left); Olomna (left).


Despite its relatively small size, Volkhov has played a large role in Russian history and economy. In recognition of that, a figure representing the Volkhov appears among the allegorical monuments to the four major rivers of Russia (the others are: Volga, Dnieper and Neva) on the rostral column
Rostral column
A rostral column is a type of victory column, originating in ancient Greece and Rome where they were erected to commemorate a naval military victory. Traditionally, rostra — the prows or rams of captured ships — were mounted on the columns...

s in the ensemble of the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange and Rostral Columns.

In the mid-9th century, the Volkhov was a heavily populated trade artery of the Varangian
The Varangians or Varyags , sometimes referred to as Variagians, were people from the Baltic region, most often associated with Vikings, who from the 9th to 11th centuries ventured eastwards and southwards along the rivers of Eastern Europe, through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.According...

-dominated Rus' Khaganate
Rus' Khaganate
Rus' khaganate is a historiographical term for the formative phase of the Rus state in the 9th century AD....

. It was a vital part of the most important trade route connecting Northern Europe to the Orient, by way of the Volga
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

 (Volga trade route
Volga trade route
In the Middle Ages, the Volga trade route connected Northern Europe and Northwestern Russia with the Caspian Sea, via the Volga River. The Rus used this route to trade with Muslim countries on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, sometimes penetrating as far as Baghdad...

) and Dnieper
Dnieper River
The Dnieper River is one of the major rivers of Europe that flows from Russia, through Belarus and Ukraine, to the Black Sea.The total length is and has a drainage basin of .The river is noted for its dams and hydroelectric stations...

 (trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks
Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks
The trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks was a trade route that connected Scandinavia, Kievan Rus' and the Byzantine Empire. The route allowed traders along the route to establish a direct prosperous trade with Byzantium, and prompted some of them to settle in the territories of...

). The ancient Russian capital Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga , or the Aldeigjuborg of Norse sagas, is a village in the Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Volkhov River near Lake Ladoga, 8 km north of the town of Volkhov. The village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries...

 and one of the principal Russian medieval cities Velikiy Novgorod are located along the Volkhov.

After entering the Volkhov near Gorchakovshchina and Lyubsha
Lyubsha is an archaeological site situated on the right bank of the Volkhov, about 1,500 metres downstream from Staraya Ladoga. As was established by the 1993 excavations, Lyubsha is the site of the earliest Varangian fort in Russia, established in the first half of the 8th century, thus predating...

, commercial vessels of the Vikings cast anchor at the major trade emporium of Aldeigja
Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga , or the Aldeigjuborg of Norse sagas, is a village in the Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Volkhov River near Lake Ladoga, 8 km north of the town of Volkhov. The village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries...

 (Ladoga). Then they rowed upstream past a series of rapids, guarded by the fortified settlements at Novye Duboviki
Novye Duboviki
Novyye Duboviki is an archaeological site in Leningrad Oblast of Russia, located about south of Ladoga upstream the Volkhov River, at the head of the lower Volkhov rapids....

 and Gorodishche. There was another outpost at Kholopy Gorodok, 13 km north of present-day Velikiy Novgorod, or rather Holmgard, which was founded near the point where the Volkhov flows from Lake Ilmen.

"Most of these were initially small sites, probably not much more than stations for re-fitting and resupply, providing an opportunity for exchange and the redistribution of items passing along the river and caravan routes". It seems on the whole likely that such pre-urban settlements gave the country its Norse name of Gardariki.
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