Narva, city (1994 pop. 79,094), NE Estonia, on the left bank of the Narva River. A leading textile center, it also has machinery plants, sawmills, flax and jute factories, and food-processing industries. The city is also an important producer of electric power. Founded by the Danes in 1223, Narva passed to the Livonian Knights in 1346 and was a member of the Hanseatic League. In 1492, Ivan III of Russia built the fortress Ivangorod on the right bank of the Narva, facing the Hermann fortress of the knights. After the dissolution (1561) of the Livonian Order, the city was first seized by the Russians, then taken (1581) by the Swedes; it continued to be contested by the two nations. In 1700, Charles XII of Sweden, with inferior forces, resoundingly defeated Peter I of Russia at Narva in the first great battle of the Northern War (1700-1721). Peter, however, captured the city in 1704, and it remained part of Russia until 1919, when it was incorporated into newly independent Estonia. Estonia was forcibly incorporated into the USSR from 1940 to 1991; German forces occupied the city in World War II. The city is dominated by two old fortresses, and it has retained a 14th-century Eastern Orthodox cathedral (originally Roman Catholic), and a 17th-century town hall and exchange buildings.
Narva, river, c.50 mi (80 km) long, rising in Lake Peipus (Chudskoye), E Estonia, and flowing northeast past the city of Narva into the Gulf of Finland. It forms the border between Estonia and Russia. The falls of the river supply power to the fibers industry of Narva. After Estonia was forcibly incorporated into the USSR (1940), all Estonian territory E of the river was transferred (1945) to the Russian SFSR (now Russia); Estonia regards the transfer as an illegal annexation.

Narva is the third largest city in Estonia. It is located at the eastern extreme point of Estonia, by the Russian border, on the Narva River which drains Lake Peipus.


People settled in the area during 5th to 4th millennium BC, as witnessed by the archeological traces of the Narva culture, named so after the city. The settlement was first mentioned in the First Novgorod Chronicle as Rugodiv (Ругодивъ) under the year 1171.

The castle of Narva was founded during the Danish rule of northern Estonia on November 30, 1223. The castle and surrounding town of Narva became a possession of the Livonian Order after 1346. Captured briefly by Russians in 1558, Narva changed hands a few times, and after 1581 was controlled by Sweden.

During the Great Northern War, Narva was the setting for its first great battle between the forces of King Charles XII of Sweden and Tsar Peter I of Russia. Although outnumbered four to one, the Swedish forces routed their 40 000-strong opponent. The city was subsequently conquered by Russia in 1704.

Narva became part of independent Estonia in 1918 following World War I. It was made part of the Estonian SSR in 1940 during World War II. Narva had an baroque style old town for a city center which was quite famous all over Europe. The old town of Narva was completely destroyed by the bombing of Soviet Union on 6th of March, 1944. On the same year, the retreating germans also blew up some of the houses. After the battle, most of the buildings could have been restored as the walls of the houses still existed, but the Soviet Union demolished those to make room for apartment buildings. Many estonians who had fled Narva during war wanted to come back but they were not allowed. Instead russians were brought in. The only remaining building of the old town is the old town hall.

Having reoccupied Estonia during World War II in 1944, the Soviet authorities separated Ivangorod administratively from the rest of Narva, and transferred the territory to the Leningrad Oblast of the Russian SFSR in January 1945. Ivangorod received the status of town in 1954.

After Estonia regained independence in 1991, the border as per 1920 Treaty of Tartu was considered by Russia legally superseded by an Subdivisions of the Soviet Union between two former Soviet republics drawn later by the Soviet authorities. Ivangorod thus remained a part of Russia. Due to political tensions, a new border treaty between Estonia and Russia has not yet come into force.


93.85% of the current population of Narva are Russian-speakers (86.41% are ethnic Russians), mostly either Soviet-era immigrants from parts of the former Soviet Union (mainly Russia) or their descendants. Much of the city was destroyed during World War II and for several years during the following reconstruction the Soviet authorities prohibited the return of any of Narva's pre-war residents (among whom ethnic Estonians had been the majority, forming 64.8% of the town's population according to the 1934 census), thus radically altering the city's ethnic composition.


Narva is dominated by the 15th-century castle, with the 51-metre-high Long Hermann tower as its most prominent landmark. The sprawling complex of the Kreenholm Manufacture, located in the proximity of scenic waterfalls, is one of the largest textile mills of 19th-century Eastern Europe. Other notable buildings include Swedish mansions of the 17th century, a Baroque town hall (1668-71), and remains of Erik Dahlberg's fortifications.

Across the Narva River is the Russian Ivangorod fortress, founded by Grand Prince Ivan III of Muscovy in 1492 and known in Western sources as Counter-Narva. During the Soviet times Narva and Ivangorod were twin cities, despite belonging to different republics. Before World War II, Ivangorod (in Estonian known as Jaanilinn) was administrated as part of Narva.

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