Ready to fight – a brief historical chronology of Narva
Because of its geographical position, the history of Narva has like no other been dominated by threat, battles and resistance. Narva has always been a fortress. In 1171, the Danes were the first to try to settle permanently in the east of the country using Narva as their stronghold.
In 1346, Narva was sold to the Teutonic Knights, who continued to fortify the walls of the existing fortress. Their aim was to improve the shelter against the Russian attempts of conquest.
Between 1558 and 1581, Narva became the Russian territory only to be soon ruled by the Swedes after another short power struggle. Military progress in those days, such as new firearms, forced the Scandinavians to improve their stronghold further. In 1610, 1649 and 1659 huge, destructive fires did lot of damage and thus proved to be another threat to the city and its massive protective buildings.
During the Great Northern War (1700-1721) Narva developed into one of the most important combat zones. At first Sweden won the Battle of Narva against Russia on November 20, 1700. But only four years later it was Tsar Peter I who conquered the city. He now had the key to the whole Baltic area.
The history of Narva in the 20th century has also been full of changes. By the Peace Treaty of Tartu the city of Narva was given approximately 5 kilometres of land on the other side of the River Narva. This led to a “merger” of Narva and Ivangorod, which is situated on the opposite side of the river. After the end of the Second World War the Soviet government claimed the territory back.
Due to the heavy damage done in the last two years of the Second World War Narva had to be almost completely rebuilt. This is why today the city is dominated by the uniform and unattractive architecture introduced by the Soviets. Grey and uninspired residential buildings and austere shopping streets prevail in most parts of Narva.
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