Kievan Rus

Trade Route to the Greeks
The Rus trading slaves with the Khazars: Trade in the East Slavic Camp by Sergei Ivanov (1913)
900 Jan 1

Trade Route to the Greeks

Dnieper Reservoir, Ukraine

The trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks was a medieval trade route that connected Scandinavia, Kievan Rus' and the Eastern Roman Empire. The route allowed merchants along its length to establish a direct prosperous trade with the Empire, and prompted some of them to settle in the territories of present-day Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. The majority of the route comprised a long-distance waterway, including the Baltic Sea, several rivers flowing into the Baltic Sea, and rivers of the Dnieper river system, with portages on the drainage divides. An alternative route was along the Dniestr river with stops on the Western shore of Black Sea. These more specific sub-routes are sometimes referred to as the Dnieper trade route and Dniestr trade route, respectively.

The route began in Scandinavian trading centers such as Birka, Hedeby, and Gotland, the eastern route crossed the Baltic Sea, entered the Gulf of Finland, and followed the Neva River into Lake Ladoga. Then it followed the Volkhov River upstream past the towns of Staraya Ladoga and Velikiy Novgorod, crossed Lake Ilmen, and continued up the Lovat River, the Kunya River and possibly the Seryozha River. From there, a portage led to the Toropa River and downstream to the Western Dvina River. From the Western Dvina, the ships went upstream along the Kasplya River and were portaged again to the Katynka River (near Katyn), a tributary of the Dnieper. It seems probable that once the route was established, the goods were unloaded onto land transport to cross the portage and reloaded onto other waiting ships on the Dnieper.