|- City -|
Smolensk railway station
Location of Smolensk Oblast in Russia
|Administrative status (as of November 2011)|
|Federal subject||Smolensk Oblast|
|Administratively subordinated to||Smolensk Urban Okrug|
|Administrative center of||Smolensk Oblast, Smolensky District, Smolensk Urban Okrug|
|Municipal status (as of December 2011)|
|Urban okrug||Smolensk Urban Okrug|
|Administrative center of||Smolensk Urban Okrug, Smolensky Municipal District|
|Head||Nikolay Alasheyev|
|Population (2010 Census)||326,861 inhabitants|
|- Rank in 2010||54th|
|Time zone||MSK (UTC+04:00)|
|Postal code(s)||214ХХХ|
|Dialing code(s)||+7 4812|
Smolensk (Russian: Смоленск; IPA: [smɐˈlʲensk] ( listen)) is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River, 360 kilometers (220 mi) west-southwest of Moscow. Population: 326,861 (2010 Census); 325,137 (2002 Census); 341,483 (1989 Census).
This walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk is noted for electronics, textiles, food processing, and diamond faceting.
The name of the city is derived from the name of the Smolnya River. The origin of the river's name is less clear. One possibility is the old Slavic word "смоль" (smol) for black soil, which might have colored the waters of the long-derelict Smolnya. An alternative origin could be the Russian word "смола" (smola), which means resin, tar, or pitch. Pine trees grow in the area, and the city was once a center of resin processing and trade. The Byzantine emperor Constantine VII recorded its name as Μιλινισκα.
Medieval origins 
Smolensk is among the oldest Russian cities. The first recorded mention of the city was 863 CE, two years after the founding of ancient Rus'. According to Russian Primary Chronicle, Smolensk (probably located slightly downstream, at the archaeological site of Gnezdovo) was located on the area settled by the West Slavic Radimichs tribe in 882 when Oleg of Novgorod took it in passing from Novgorod to Kiev. The town was first attested two decades earlier, when the Varangian chieftains Askold and Dir, while on their way to Kiev, decided against challenging Smolensk on account of its large size and population.
The first foreign writer to mention the city was the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. In De Administrando Imperio (c. 950) he described Smolensk as a key station on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The Rus' people sailed from the Baltics up the Western Dvina as far as they could then they pulled their boats out onto the ground and dragged them along to the upper Dnieper. It was in Smolensk that they supposedly mended any leaks and small holes that might have appeared in their boats from being dragged on the ground and they used tar to do that, hence the city name.
The Principality of Smolensk was founded in 1054. Due to its central position amid Russian lands, the city developed rapidly. By the end of the 12th century, the princedom was one of the strongest in Eastern Europe, so that Smolensk Dynasty frequently controlled the Kievan throne. Numerous churches were built in the city at that time, including the church of Sts. Peter and Paul (1146, reconstructed to its presumed original appearance after World War II) and church of St. John the Baptist (1180, also partly rebuilt). The most remarkable church in the city is called Svirskaya (1197, still standing); it was admired by contemporaries as the most beautiful structure to the east of Kiev.
Smolensk had its own veche since the very beginning of its history. Its power increased after the disintegration of Kievan Rus, and although it was not as strong as the veche in Novgorod, the princes had to take its opinion into consideration; several times in 12th-13th centuries there was an open conflict between them.
Between Russia, Lithuania, and Poland 
Although spared the Mongol armies in 1240, Smolensk paid tribute to the Golden Horde, gradually becoming a pawn in the long struggle between Lithuania and the Grand Duchy of Moscow. The last sovereign monarch of Smolensk was Yury of Smolensk; during his reign the city was taken by Vytautas the Great of Lithuania on three occasions: in 1395, 1404, and 1408. After the city's incorporation into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, some of Smolensk's boyars (e.g., the Sapiehas) moved to Vilnius; descendants of the ruling princes (e.g., the Tatishchevs, Kropotkins, Mussorgskys, Vyazemskys) fled to Moscow.
With tens of thousands of people living there, Smolensk was probably the largest city in 15th-century Lithuania. Three Smolensk regiments proved decisive during the Battle of Grunwald against the Teutonic Knights. It was a severe blow to Lithuania when the city was taken by Vasily III of Russia in 1514. To commemorate this event, the Tsar founded the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow and dedicated it to the icon of Our Lady of Smolensk.
In order to repel future Polish–Lithuanian attacks, Boris Godunov made it his priority to heavily fortify the city. The stone kremlin constructed in 1597–1602 is the largest in Russia. It features thick walls and numerous watchtowers. Heavy fortifications did not prevent the fortress from being taken by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1611 after a long twenty-month siege, during the Time of Troubles and Dimitriads. Weakened Muscovy temporarily ceded Smolensk land to the Commonwealth in the Truce of Deulino and for the next forty-three years it was the seat of Smolensk Voivodeship.
To recapture the city, the Tsardom of Russia launched the so-called "Smolensk War" against the Commonwealth in 1632. After a defeat at the hands of king Wladislaw IV, the city remained in Polish–Lithuanian hands. In 1632, the Uniate bishop Lew Kreuza built his apartments in Smolensk; they were later converted into the Orthodox Church of Saint Barbara. The hostilities resumed in 1654 when the Commonwealth was being affected by the Khmelnytsky Uprising and the Swedish invasion. After another siege, on September 23, 1654, Smolensk was recaptured by Russia. In the 1667 Truce of Andrusovo, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth finally renounced its claims to Smolensk.
Modern history 
Smolensk has been a special place to Russians for many reasons, not least for the fact that the local cathedral housed one of the most venerated Orthodox icons, attributed to St. Luke. Building the new Cathedral of the Assumption was a great project which took more than a century to complete. Despite slowly sinking into economic backwater, Smolensk was still valued by Tsars as a key fortress defending the route to Moscow. It was made the seat of Smolensk Governorate in 1708.
In August 1812, two of the largest armies ever assembled clashed in Smolensk. During the hard-fought battle, described by Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace, Napoleon entered the city. Total losses were estimated at 30,000 men. Apart from other military monuments, central Smolensk features the Eagles monument, unveiled in 1912 to mark the centenary of Napoleon's Russian campaign.
At the beginning of World War I, the 56th Smolensk Infantry Division was first assigned to the First Army of the Imperial Russian Army. They fought at the Battle of Tannenberg. It was subsequently transferred to the 10th Army and fought at the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes. In March 1918, while the city remained a part of Russia, Belarusian People's Republic, proclaimed in Minsk under the German occupation, declared Smolensk a part of it. In February–December 1918, Smolensk was home to the headquarters of the Western Front, North-West Oblast Bolshevik Committee and Western Oblast Executive Committee. On January 1, 1919, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in Smolensk, but its government moved to Minsk as soon as the German forces had been driven out of Minsk several days later.
During World War II, Smolensk once again saw wide-scale fighting during the first Battle of Smolensk when the city was captured by the Germans on July 16, 1941. The first Soviet counteroffensive against the German army was launched in August 1941 but failed. However, the limited Soviet victories outside the city halted the German advance for a crucial two months, granting time to Moscow's defenders to prepare in earnest. Camp 126 was situated close to Smolensk and at this time Boris Menshagin was mayor of Smolensk, with his deputy Boris Bazilevsky. Both of them would be key witnesses in the Nuremberg Trials over the Katyn massacre. Over 93% of the city was destroyed during the fighting; the ancient icon of Our Lady of Smolensk was lost. Nevertheless, it escaped total destruction. In late 1943, Göring had ordered Gotthard Heinrici to destroy Smolensk in accordance with the Nazi "scorched earth" policy. He refused and was punished for it. The city was finally liberated on September 25, 1943. The rare title of Hero City was bestowed on Smolensk after the war.
After the Germans captured the city in 1941, they found the intact archives of Smolensk Oblast Committee of the Communist Party, the so-called Smolensk Archive. The archive was moved to Germany, and a significant part of it eventually ended up in the United States, providing Western scholars and intelligence specialists with unique information on the local workings of the Soviet government during its first two decades. The archives were returned to Russia by the United States in 2002.
On April 10, 2010, a Tu-154 military jet carrying Polish president Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and many notable political and military figures crashed in a wooded area near Smolensk while approaching the local military airport. All ninety-six passengers died immediately on impact. The purpose of the visit was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, in which some 22,000 Polish POWs were murdered by the NKVD.
Administrative and municipal status 
Smolensk serves as the administrative center of the oblast and, within the framework of administrative divisions, it also serves as the administrative center of Smolensky District, even though it is not a part of it. As an administrative division, it is incorporated separately as Smolensk Urban Okrug—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, this administrative unit also has urban okrug status.
|Climate data for Smolensk|
|Record high °C (°F)||9.3
|Average high °C (°F)||−3.8
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−6.2
|Average low °C (°F)||−8.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−37.9
|Precipitation mm (inches)||49
|Avg. rainy days||9||8||10||14||17||18||16||16||16||17||15||11||167|
|Avg. snowy days||25||22||16||5||1||0||0||0||1||4||15||23||112|
Smolensk has several factories including the Smolensk Aviation Plant and several electronics and agricultural machinery factories.
Smolensk is located on the M1 main highway and main railway between Moscow and Minsk. Since 1870, there is an railway connection between Smolensk and Moscow. Local public transport includes buses and trolleybuses. Public transportation network includes buses, trolleybuses, trams, and marshrutkas.
International relations 
Twin towns and sister cities 
Smolensk is twinned with:
- 1981 Tulle, France
- 1985 Hagen, Germany
- 1993 Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
- 1998 Kerch, Ukraine
- 2006 Woodstock, Georgia, United States
Notable people 
- Alexander Belyayev, science fiction writer
- Mikhail Glinka, composer
- Elizaveta Golovanova, Miss Russia 2012
- Natalia Ishchenko, swimmer
- Eduard Khil, singer
- Sergey Konenkov, sculptor
- Semyon Lavochkin, aircraft designer
- Maria Leontyavna Itkina (born 1932), runner
- Anatoly Lukyanov, politician
- Gregori Maximoff, politician
- Grigory Potyomkin, statesman
- Aleksandr Tvardovsky, writer
See also 
- Resolution #261
- Decision #164
- "Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Том 1" [2010 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1]. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года (2010 All-Russia Population Census) (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service. 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
- Правительство Российской Федерации. Постановление №725 от 31 августа 2011 г. «О составе территорий, образующих каждую часовую зону, и порядке исчисления времени в часовых зонах, а также о признании утратившими силу отдельных Постановлений Правительства Российской Федерации». Вступил в силу по истечении 7 дней после дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Российская Газета", №197, 6 сентября 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Resolution #725 of August 31, 2011 On the Composition of the Territories Included into Each Time Zone and on the Procedures of Timekeeping in the Time Zones, as Well as on Abrogation of Several Resolutions of the Government of the Russian Federation. Effective as of after 7 days following the day of the official publication.).
- "Численность населения России, субъектов Российской Федерации в составе федеральных округов, районов, городских поселений, сельских населённых пунктов – районных центров и сельских населённых пунктов с населением 3 тысячи и более человек" [Population of Russia, its federal districts, federal subjects, districts, urban localities, rural localities—administrative centers, and rural localities with population of over 3,000]. Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года (All-Russia Population Census of 2002) (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service. May 21, 2004. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Demoscope Weekly (1989). "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 г. Численность наличного населения союзных и автономных республик, автономных областей и округов, краёв, областей, районов, городских поселений и сёл-райцентров." [All Union Population Census of 1989. Present population of union and autonomous republics, autonomous oblasts and okrugs, krais, oblasts, districts, urban settlements, and villages serving as district administrative centers]. Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года (All-Union Population Census of 1989) (in Russian). Institute of Demographics of the State University—Higher School of Economics. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Алексеев, Л. В. (1980). Смоленская земля в IX-XIII вв. (in Russian). Moscow: Наука. pp. 111–115.
- Sanford, George. "Katyn and the Soviet massacre of 1940: truth, justice and memory, Part 804", 2005, p140. ISBN 978-0-415-33873-8.
- [dead link]
- "Prologue: Selected Articles". Archives.gov. 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- "Pogoda.ru.net" (in Russian). Retrieved September 8, 2007.
- Train Station in Smolensk (Russian)
- Smolensk Strait. SCAR Composite Antarctic Gazetteer.
- Администрация Смоленской области. Постановление №261 от 30 апреля 2008 г. «Об утверждении реестра административно-территориальных единиц и территориальных единиц Смоленской области», в ред. Постановления №57 от 14 февраля 2013 г. «О внесении изменений в реестр административно-территориальных единиц и территориальных единиц Смоленской области». Опубликован: База данных "Консультант-плюс". (Administration of Smolensk Oblast. Resolution #261 of April 30, 2008 On the Adoption of the Registry of the Administrative-Territorial Units and Territorial Units of Smolensk Oblast, as amended by the Resolution #57 of February 14, 2013 On Amending the Registry of the Administrative-Territorial Units and Territorial Units of Smolensk Oblast. ).
- Смоленский городской Совет. Решение №164 от 28 октября 2005 г. «Устав города Смоленска (новая редакция)», в ред. Решения №541 от 27 декабря 2011 г «О внесении изменений в Устав города Смоленска». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования, за исключением положений, для которых установлены иные сроки вступления в силу. Опубликован: "Смоленские новости", №71, 22 декабря 2005 г. (Smolensk City Council. Decision #164 of October 28, 2005 Charter of the City of Smolensk (New Edition), as amended by the Decision #541 of December 27, 2011 On Amending the Charter of the City of Smolensk. Effective as of the day of the official publication, with the exception of the clauses for which other dates of taking effect are specified.).
Further reading 
- William Coxe (1784), "Smolensko", Travels into Poland, Russia, Sweden and Denmark, London: Printed by J. Nichols, for T. Cadell, OCLC 654136
- (Russian) Official website of Smolensk
- (Russian) Smolensk news
- (Russian) Smolensk Wiki
- (Russian) Homepage of the Smolensk fortress
- Some photos of the Smolensk fortress
- More photos of Smolensk
- Historic images of Smolensk
- (Russian) Basketball in Smolensk
- (Russian) News of Smolensk sport
- (Russian) News of Smolensk medicine