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Smolensk

Smolensk, city and administrative centre of Smolensk region, western Russia.

Etimology

There are several versions of the origin of the name of Smolensk. According to the first, it comes from the old Slavic name for black soil (black soil could color the water near the ancient settlement called Smolnya). Another version is about the Russian word “smola” meaning tar. There were a lot of pine trees in the area, so the settlement was an important center of resin processing and trade.

Geography

The city is located in European Russia on the banks of the upper Dnieper River, which crosses the city within the Smolensk Upland, which is the western part of the Smolensk–Moscow Upland. The Dnieper River flows through the city from east to west and divides it into two parts: the northern (Zadneprove) and southern (center). Within the city and its surroundings the river takes in several small tributaries.

In the valleys are stretched streets, high ridges, hills, and headlands form the mountain. Smolensk is situated on seven hills (mountains).

The old part of the city occupies the high, rugged left (south) bank of the Dnieper River. The area features undulating terrain, with a large number of tributaries, creeks and ravines.

History

The walled city in the center of Smolensk (along with the outskirts) was destroyed several times throughout its long history because it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk is noted for electronics, textiles, food processing, and diamond faceting.

Places of interest

Smolensk has a lot of old monasteries and churches, a number of different monuments: to Smolensk defenders of 1812, Kutuzov, Glinka, Lenin, Alexander Tvardovsky and Vasily Tyorkin, children who died in concentration camps (Burnt Flower).

Smolensk fortress wall (also known as Smolensk kremlin) is a defensive structure built in 1595-1602. The length of the walls is 6.5 km (only less than half of walls and towers are preserved). The fortress was of great military significance in the Russian state. Most of the fortress was destroyed by the troops of Emperor Napoleon I in 1812.

Cathedral of the Assumption. The cathedral was built on Soborny (Cathedral) Hill in memory of the heroic defense of Smolensk of 1609-1611. The construction was completed in 1772.

Napoleonic cannons in Smolensk. At the entrance to the Historical Museum, you can find two bronze cannons. Two similar cannons can also be found at the monument of the Patriotic War of 1812 in the city park. All four cannons were captured by the Russian army during the Patriotic War of 1812.

The memorial complex “Katyn”. It is an international memorial to the victims of political repression located in the Katyn forest, 22 km away from Smolensk.

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