[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
Valday (Russian: Валда́й) is a town and the administrative center of Valdaysky District of Novgorod Oblast, Russia,. It lies on the federal highway M10 connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg, 386 kilometers (240 mi) from Moscow and 140 kilometers (87 mi) from Veliky Novgorod. Municipally, it is incorporated as a part of Valdayskoye Urban Settlement in Valdaysky Municipal District. Population: 16,098 (2010 Census); 18,703 (2002 Census); 19,173 (1989 Census).
Valday was first mentioned in a chronicle in 1495. At the time, the area was a part of Derevskaya Pyatina of Novgorod. The growth of Valday was facilitated by construction of a road connecting Novgorod to Central Russia, and by the foundation of the Valday Iversky Monastery in 1653, which became a major cultural center. The famous monastery, built under the auspices of Patriarch Nikon in the 1650s, is located on one of the islands of Lake Valdayskoye.
In the course of the administrative reform carried out in 1708 by Peter the Great, the area was included into Ingermanland Governorate (known since 1710 as Saint Petersburg Governorate). In 1727, separate Novgorod Governorate was split off. In 1770, Valday was chartered and became the administrative center of Valdaysky Uyezd of Novgorod Viceroyalty. In 1796, the viceroyalty was transformed into Novgorod Governorate. The area was located along the road connecting Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and Valday developed as a major trade center. The town became the leading center of bell manufacturing in Russia. It also became a major pilgrim destination.
In August 1927, the uyezds were abolished, and Valdaysky District was established, with the center in Valday. Novgorod Governorate was abolished as well, and the district belonged to Borovichi Okrug of Leningrad Oblast. On July 23, 1930 the okrugs were abolished, and the districts became directly subordinate to the oblast. Valday was close to the eastern front line for Russia during World War II, but was never occupied by German troops. On July 5, 1944, Valdaysky District was transferred to newly established Novgorod Oblast and remained there ever since