Novgorod between the 9th and the 15th centuries was one of the most significant cities of medieval Rus. It lay on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks and was the center of the Novgorod Republic, which included the major part of what is currently northwestern Russia. From the 12th century, it was an example of a medieval republic, in which decisions were taken by veche – a meeting of the city population – and the prince was elected. (The only other Russian city with a similar organization was Pskov.) Novgorod was one of few areas of Rus not affected by the Mongol invasions, and therefore, in particular, active ecclesiastical construction was continuing in Novgorod in the 14th century, while it was stale in the rest of Rus. Novgorod was as well the seat of archbishop and an important cultural center. The earliest known Russian manuscripts were produced in Novgorod in the 11th century. Russian whitestone architecture and Russian painting originated from Novgorod and Pskov. One of the most important Russian medieval painters, Theophanes the Greek, was active in Novgorod.