In the ancient Finno-Ugric language, Demyansk means “land of roads.” A section of the ancient Seliger Trading Route ran through this area in the past.
The land is famous for its beautiful natural scenery. There are 90 rivers and more than 50 lakes in the area. The major lakes are Velyo and the gem of Russia, Lake Seliger. The area is located between the rugged Valdai Hills and the gentle Priilmenskaya Lowland. Travelling from Demyansk to Lake Seliger, one can feel the indescribable sensation of the altitude rising from 50 to 288 metres above sea level.
The area boasts 168 archaeological sites. Knyazhna Gora Hill is one of the most prominent sites. Shrouded in the mystery of folk legends, it is a striking hill of majestic beauty, standing around 30 metres high.
An ancient settlement was located on the Knyazhna Gora Hill between the 6th and 9th centuries. Later, until the 16th century, there was a fortified outpost, Deman on the Yavon, that protected access roads to Veliky Novgorod.
Demyansk has not just witnessed many historic events, it has lived them. It was there that Batu Khan’s horde, intent on invading Novgorod, was forced to turn around and return home. Baltic and Swedish conquerors fled these lands many times.
During the Great Patriotic War, Demyansk served as an outpost once again. It was near Demyansk that in late September 1941, troops of the Northwestern Front finally stopped the relentless advance of the Nazi troops, for the first time across the entire theatre of war. In the spring of 1942, as Soviet troops launched a counter-offensive, two corps of Germany’s 16th Army found themselves encircled in an operation that went down in history as the Demyansk Pocket.
More than 100 war memorials preserve the memory of the Great Patriotic War. Those who want to learn more about the military history of Demyansk are welcome to visit battlefields and travel down the “roads of war,” or take either of the two tourist itineraries between Demyansk and Lychkovo and between Demyansk, Tsemena and Korpovo. The tours include visits to the most prominent war memorials in the Demyansky District.
Valdai National Park takes up 12% of the Demyansky District’s territory. The park also comprises Russia’s first fish hatchery in the village of Nikolskoye, with a unique hydropark created by prominent ichthyologist Vladimir Vrassky in 1854.
The great outdoors in Demyansk attract fishing, hunting and rafting enthusiasts, vacationers seeking fun on the water and big city dwellers who just want to soak in the pristine nature.