Polotsk

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Polotsk (Polatsk)
Полацк, Полоцк
Skyline of Polotsk (Polatsk)  Полацк, Полоцк
Flag of Polotsk (Polatsk)  Полацк, Полоцк
Flag
Coat of arms of Polotsk (Polatsk)  Полацк, Полоцк
Coat of arms
Location of Polotsk
Location of Polotsk
Polotsk (Polatsk)  Полацк, Полоцк is located in Belarus
Polotsk (Polatsk)  Полацк, Полоцк
Polotsk (Polatsk)
Полацк, Полоцк
Location of Polotsk
Coordinates: 55°29′N 28°48′E / 55.483°N 28.800°E / 55.483; 28.800
Country
Subdivision
Belarus
Vitebsk Oblast
Founded 862
Government
 • Mayor Uladzimir S. Tachyla
Area
 • Total 40.77 km2 (15.74 sq mi)
Elevation 111 m (364 ft)
Population (2009)[1]
 • Total 82,547
 • Density 2,000/km2 (5,200/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 211291, 211400—211402, 211404—211415, 211422
Area code(s) +375 214
License plate 2
Website Official website

Polotsk (Polatsk, Belarusian: По́лацк, Russian: По́лоцк, Polish: Połock)[2][3][4][5] is a historical city in Belarus, situated on the Dvina River. It is the center of the Polatsk Raion in Vitsebsk Voblast. Its population is more than 80,000 people.[6] It is served by Polotsk Airport and during the Cold War was home to Borovitsy air base.

History[edit]

Polotsk in the 16th century.

The Old East Slavic name, Polotesk, is derived from the Polota River (the real meaning of the name is Puolauta and this in the Lithuanian language means 'falling into', i.e., the river which flows into a bigger river), that flows into the Western Dvina nearby. The Vikings rendered that name as Palteskja.

Polotsk is one of the most ancient cities of the Eastern Slavs. The Primary Chronicle listed Polotsk in 862 (as Полотескъ, /poloteskŭ/), together with Murom and Beloozero. However there is debate about this, as some historians believe Polotsk was not yet in existence in the 9th century, and this record was an invention of the compiler.[7] However, an archaeological expedition from the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus suggests that Polotsk did exist in the first half of the 9th century.[8] The Norse sagas describe the city as the most heavily fortified in all of Rus.[citation needed]

Between the 10th and 12th centuries, the Principality of Polotsk emerged as the dominant center of power in what is now Belarusian territory, with a lesser role played by the Principality of Turov to the south. It repeatedly asserted its sovereignty in relation to other centers of Kievan Rus, becoming a political capital, the episcopal see and the controller of vassal territories among Balts in the west. Its most powerful ruler was Prince Vseslav Bryachislavich, who reigned from 1044 to 1101. A 12th-century inscription commissioned by Vseslav's son Boris may still be seen on a huge boulder installed near the St. Sophia Cathedral. For a full list of the Polotsk rulers, please see the list of Belarusian rulers.

Siege of Polotsk in 1579

In 1240, Polotsk became a vassal of Lithuanian princes. Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytenis annexed the city by military force in 1307, completing the process which Lithuanian princes had begun in the 1250s.[9] Polotsk received a charter of autonomy guaranteeing that the grand dukes ′will not introduce new, nor destroy the old′.[10] It was the earliest to be so incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[10] By doing so, the Lithuanians manage to firmly grasp the Dvina trade route into their hands, securing an important element for the surrounding economies.[9] The Magdeburg law was adopted in 1498. Polotsk was a capital of the Połock Voivodship of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1772. Captured by the Russian army of Ivan the Terrible in 1563, it was returned to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania just 15 years later. It was again captured by Russian in 17 June 1654 but recaptured by Poles in 30 October 1660 during Russo-Polish War (1654-67).

That period of warfare started the gradual decline of the city. After the first partition of Poland, Polotsk was reduced to the status of a small provincial town of the Russian Empire. During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, it was the site of two battles, the First Battle of Polotsk and the Second Battle of Polotsk.

Polotsk was occupied by German Empire between 25 February 1918 and 21 November 1918 in Word War I, by Poland between 22 September 1919 and 14 May 1920 in Polish–Soviet War and by Nazi Germany between 16 July 1941 and 4 July 1944 in World War II. Polots became center of Polatsk Voblast between 20 September 1944 and 8 January 1954. After dissolving ones and dividing between Vitebsk and Molodechno ones, it is part of former.

Cultural heritage[edit]

View of Polotsk in 1912

The city's Cathedral of Saint Sophia in Polotsk (1044–1066) was a symbol of the independent-mindedness of Polotsk, rivaling churches of the same name in Novgorod and Kiev. The name referred to the original Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and thus to claims of imperial prestige, authority and sovereignty. The cathedral had been ruined by the troops of Peter I of Russia. Hence the present baroque building by Johann Christoph Glaubitz dates from the mid-18th century. Some genuine 12th-century architecture (notably Transfiguration Church) survives in the Convent of Saint Euphrosyne, which also features a neo-Byzantine cathedral, designed and built in 1893—1899 by Vladimir Korshikov.[11]

Cultural achievements of the medieval period include the work of the nun Euphrosyne of Polotsk (1120–1173), who built monasteries, transcribed books, promoted literacy and sponsored art (including local artisan Lazarus Bohsha's famous "Cross of Saint Euphrosyne," a national symbol and treasure lost during World War II), and the prolific, original Church Slavonic sermons and writings of Bishop Cyril of Turaw (1130–1182).

The first Belarusian printer, Francysk Skaryna, was born in Polotsk around 1490. He is famous for the first printing of the Bible in an East Slavic language (in Old Belarusian) in 1517, several decades after the first-ever printed book by Johann Gutenberg and just several years after the first Czech Bible (1506).

In September 2003, as "Days of Belarusian Literacy" were celebrated for the 10th time in Polotsk, city authorities dedicated a monument to honor the unique Cyrillic Belarusian letter Ў, which is not used in any other Slavic language. The original idea for the monument came from the Belarusian calligraphy professor Paval Siemchanka, who has been studying Cyrillic scripts for many years.

Sports[edit]

The city has produced players for the Belarusian national bandy team.[12]

Notable people[edit]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "World Gazetteer". Archived from the original on 2013-01-11. 
  2. ^ Occidental spelling according to the Belarus Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
  3. ^ Occidental spelling according to the official Belarus website.
  4. ^ Occidental spelling according to "Nations Online" website.
  5. ^ Spelling according to Google Maps.
  6. ^ polotskgik.by - City
  7. ^ Wladyslaw Duczko.Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe. 2004, p.126
  8. ^ Archaeologists have won the dispute in the ancient chronicles of the earlier date base of Polotsk[dead link]
  9. ^ a b The New Cambridge Medieval History: c. 1300-c. 1415. p.706
  10. ^ a b The New Cambridge Medieval History: c. 1300-c. 1415. pp.769-770
  11. ^ Savelyev, Yu. R. Vizantiysky stil v architecture Rossii (Савельев, Ю. Р. Византийский стиль в архитектуре России. - СПБ., 2005) Saint Petersburg, 2005. ISBN 5-87417-207-6, p.260
  12. ^ Bandy at Bandy2008

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°29′N 28°48′E / 55.483°N 28.800°E / 55.483; 28.800