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In Vyazma
In Vyazma
Flag of Vyazma
Coat of arms of Vyazma
Location of Vyazma
Vyazma is located in Russia
Location of Vyazma
Vyazma is located in Smolensk Oblast
Vyazma (Smolensk Oblast)
Coordinates: 55°12′39″N 34°17′28″E / 55.2107°N 34.2912°E / 55.2107; 34.2912Coordinates: 55°12′39″N 34°17′28″E / 55.2107°N 34.2912°E / 55.2107; 34.2912
Federal subjectSmolensk Oblast[1]
Administrative districtVyazemsky District[1]
Urban settlementVyazemskoye[1]
First mentioned1230[2]
 • Total48.58 km2 (18.76 sq mi)
240 m (790 ft)
 • Total57,101
 • Estimate 
52,506 (−8%)
 • Rank288th in 2010
 • Density1,200/km2 (3,000/sq mi)
 • Capital ofVyazemsky District[1], Vyazemskoye Urban Settlement[1]
 • Municipal districtVyazemsky Municipal District[5]
 • Urban settlementVyazemskoye Urban Settlement[5]
 • Capital ofVyazemsky Municipal District[5], Vyazemskoye Urban Settlement[6]
Time zoneUTC+3 (MSK Edit this on Wikidata[7])
Postal code(s)[8]
215110, 215111, 215113, 215116, 215118, 215119, 215125, 215129, 215169
Dialing code(s)+7 48131
OKTMO ID66605101001

Vyazma (Russian: Вя́зьма) is a town and the administrative center of Vyazemsky District in Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Vyazma River, about halfway between Smolensk, the administrative center of the oblast, and Mozhaysk. Throughout its turbulent history, it defended western approaches to Moscow. Population: 57,101 (2010 Census);[3] 57,545 (2002 Census);[9] 59,022 (1989 Census);[10] 44,000 (1970).

Medieval history and monuments[edit]

Vyazma was first mentioned in a chronicle under the year of 1230,[2] although it is believed to be much older than that. The town was named after the river, whose name was from Russian word "вязь" (vyaz'), meaning "bog" or "swamp".[11] At the time, the town belonged to a lateral branch of the Rurikid House of Smolensk, and carried on a lively trade with Narva on the Gulf of Finland.[12] In 1403, the local princes were expelled by Lithuanians to Moscow, where they took the name of Princes Vyazemsky. The most notable among them were Pyotr Vyazemsky, an intimate friend of the poet Alexander Pushkin and a poet himself, and Sophie Viazemski, a French writer, for a time married to Jean-Luc Godard.

In 1494, Vyazma was captured by the Grand Duchy of Moscow and turned into a fortress, of which but a single tower remains. Two important abbeys were embellished with stone churches, including a rare three-tented church dedicated to Our Lady of Smolensk (Hodegetria) and consecrated in 1638 after Polish occupation between 1611 and 1634. A barbican church of the same abbey dates back to 1656, and the town's cathedral was completed by 1676. Other churches are designed mostly in baroque style.

Spasskaya tower is the only tower left of the medieval Vyazma Kremlin.
Hodegetria church is one of three major three-tented churches in the world, the other two being in Uglich and Moscow.

Battles of Vyazma[edit]

Napoleonic wars[edit]

Vyazma monument commemorating the Russian victory over Napoleon.
An illustration by Leonid Pasternak for War and Peace, showing Napoleon near Vyazma

During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, there was a battle between the retreating French army (up to 37,000 troops) and the Russian army (25,000 men) near Vyazma on October 22, 1812. The vanguard of the Russian army under the command of Lieutenant General Mikhail Miloradovich and a Cossack unit of General Matvey Platov attacked the rearguard corps of Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout east of Vyazma and cut off his retreat. Owing to the intervention of Eugène de Beauharnais and Józef Poniatowski, Davout managed to break through the Russian army's encirclement.

However, the French army's attempts to hold the heights near Vyazma and the town itself were unsuccessful. By the evening of October 22, Russians seized Vyazma, which had been set on fire by the French. The French lost 6,000 men during the battle; 2,500 soldiers were taken prisoners. The Russians lost around 2,000 men.

Vyazma in 1910

World War II[edit]

In 1941, during World War II, Vyazma was the scene of a battle of encirclement. The Soviet 16th, 19th, 20th and 24th armies were surrounded West of the town by the Third and Fourth Panzer Armies.

Vyazma was occupied by German forces between 7 October 1941 and 12 March 1943. In October 1941, 11 Jews were shot in the town and two were hanged. In December 1941, 117 Jews were killed in a mass execution perpetrated by the Einsatzgruppe B.[13]

The town was heavily damaged in the fighting, then rebuilt after the war. U.S. journalist Quentin Reynolds, of Collier's Weekly, visited Vyazma shortly after the German withdrawal in 1943 and gave an account of the destruction in his book The Curtain Rises (1944), in which he stated that the town's population was reduced from 60,000 to 716, with only three buildings remaining. The Nazis also established two concentration camps in the town, Dulag 184 and Dulag 230. About 80,000 people died there and were buried in mass graves. The victims included Jews, political officers, and POWs.[14]

The transfer camp (Dulag No. 184) was established in October 1941 and lasted until March 1943, when the city was liberated by Soviet troops. The camp housed prisoners who had been captured by German soldiers, in particular, conscripted from Zubtsovsky, Rzhevsky, Nelidovsky and other districts of the Tver region, natives of the Smolensk and Arkhangelsk regions, who were reported missing, as well as volunteer militias from Moscow. Prisoners were often not fed or given water. In the winter of 1941–1942, the death rate in the camp was up to 300 people per day. According to SMERSH, there are 5,500 people on the list of dead from wounds in the camp. There are 40 (according to other data, 45) ditches measuring 4×100 meters, in an area equal to about four football fields, where, according to various data, 70 to 80,000 people are buried. As of 2009, the graves house gardens, garages of local residents, a machine-building plant and the Vyazemsky meat-processing plant, in the building of which the camp was housed.

In another transit prison in Vyazma (Dulag No. 230) in October 1941, during an inspection conducted by an officer, Abver found 200 Jews and 50 to 60 politruks, a few days later another 40 Jews and 6–8 politruks were found there. They were all shot. In December, 117 Jews were identified and executed at a POW camp in Vyazma.

According to the memoirs of the future Soviet historian, Mikhail Markovich Sheinman, who was in German captivity at the time:

In early October 1941, near Vyazma, the sector in which I served was surrounded. We immediately found ourselves in the Germans' rear. On 12 October, I was shot in the leg while attacking. From November 1941 to 12 February 1942, I was in the Vyazma "hospital" for prisoners of war. People were placed in dilapidated buildings without roofs, windows, or doors. Often many of those who went to bed did not wake up – they froze. In Vyazma, exhausted, ragged, barely clad people – Soviet prisoners of war – the Germans drove to unbearably hard work. Few people got into the "hospital" – most of them died in the camp.

In Vyazma, the hospital was housed in dilapidated, abandoned houses, on the outskirts of the city in the ruins of the oil factory buildings. The cabins were always cold and dark. The wounded lay on the bare floor. There wasn't even straw for bedding. It was not until the end of my stay in Vyazma that bunks were built in the houses, but on them the sick lay without straw, on bare boards. There were no medicines. The lice in the hospital was incredible. I never had a bath in the three and a half months of my stay in Vyazma.[15]

In honor of the defenders of the Fatherland, a memorial complex has been erected on the Moscow–Minsk highway outside the city. In 2009, in the vicinity of Vyazma, where the battles took place in 1941, a memorial named "The Virgin Field" was opened. The burial ground, where tens of thousands of people died in the death camp, is buried in the territory of the existing meat-processing plant, now marked chapel in memory of the dead prisoners of war.

Administrative and municipal status[edit]

Within the framework of administrative divisions, Vyazma serves as the administrative center of Vyazemsky District.[1] As an administrative division, it is incorporated within Vyazemsky District as Vyazemskoye Urban Settlement.[1] As a municipal division, this administrative unit also has urban settlement status and is a part of Vyazemsky Municipal District.[5]


The town's main industries in the present day are engineering, leather working, graphite products, and flax textiles.

Historically the town was known for its pryaniki, which are even mentioned in classical works of Russian literature. The original recipe, as well as the technology and knowledge, were lost during the revolutionary period. Attempts to resurrect the pryanik industry during the Soviet period were unsuccessful, but in post-Soviet times the local Вяземский хлебокомбинат (Vyazma [industrial] bakery) started once again to produce hand-made pryaniki, some of which were awarded prizes in national competitions.


Esh 4290 0-10-0 steam locomotive outside the Vyazma railway station.

Vyazma is a major railway junction for both freight and passenger transport, with connecting trains from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaluga, and Bryansk. The long-distance (lastochka) train from Moscow to Smolensk stops at Vyazma, with travel time to and from the capital being between 2 and 2:30 hours. Short distance trains also go to and from Mozhaysk and Borodino, linking Vyazma to the Moscow suburban railway network.

Vyazma is also located near the main M1 Highway between Moscow and Minsk.

The nearby Vyazma Airport serves military and recreational purposes, but there are no commercial flights to or from the city.


The only university in the city is the Smolensk Cossack Institute of Industrial Technologies and Business, a regional branch of the Kirill Razumovsky Moscow State University of Technology and Management (First Cossack University).[16]

Vyzma also hosts several institutions of tertiary and further education:


The town association football club, FK Vyazma, plays in the Amateur football league.

The town is known for the aviation-squadron Vyazma Russ which flies in Aero L-39 Albatros jet aircraft.

Notable people[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Resolution #261
  2. ^ a b Энциклопедия Города России. Moscow: Большая Российская Энциклопедия. 2003. p. 99. ISBN 5-7107-7399-9.
  3. ^ a b Russian Federal State Statistics Service (2011). 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.
  4. ^ "26. Численность постоянного населения Российской Федерации по муниципальным образованиям на 1 января 2018 года". Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Law #130-z
  6. ^ Федеральная служба государственной статистики. Федеральное агентство по технологическому регулированию и метрологии. №ОК 033-2013 1 января 2014 г. «Общероссийский классификатор территорий муниципальных образований. Код 66 605 101». (Federal State Statistics Service. Federal Agency on Technological Regulation and Metrology. #OK 033-2013 January 1, 2014 Russian Classification of Territories of Municipal Formations. Code 66 605 101. ).
  7. ^ "Об исчислении времени". Официальный интернет-портал правовой информации (in Russian). June 3, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  8. ^ Почта России. Информационно-вычислительный центр ОАСУ РПО. (Russian Post). Поиск объектов почтовой связи (Postal Objects Search) (in Russian)
  9. ^ Russian Federal State Statistics Service (May 21, 2004). 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] (XLS). Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года [All-Russia Population Census of 2002] (in Russian).
  10. ^ 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). Институт демографии Национального исследовательского университета: Высшая школа экономики [Institute of Demography at the National Research University: Higher School of Economics]. 1989 – via Demoscope Weekly.
  11. ^ Е. М. Поспелов. "Географические названия мира". Москва, 1998, стр. 108.
  12. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Vyazma". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 222.
  13. ^ "Vyazma | Smolensk - YAHAD - IN UNUM".
  14. ^ "И.Эренбург, В.Гроссман, ЧЕРНАЯ КНИГА" (in Russian).
  15. ^ "Освенцим. Рассказ бывшего военнопленного М. Шейнмана. | Сивокоз Кузьма Захарович. Сайт памяти Auschwitz" [The story of former prisoner of war M. Sheinman; Sivokoz Kuzma Zakharovich. Auschwitz Memorial site] (in Russian).
  16. ^ "Smolensk Cossack Institute of Industrial Technologies and Business (in Russian)".
  17. ^ "Vyazma Polytechnic College (in Russian)".
  18. ^ "Vyazma Railway College (in Russian)".
  19. ^ "Vyazma Medical College (in Russian)".


  • Администрация Смоленской области. Постановление №261 от 30 апреля 2008 г. «Об утверждении реестра административно-территориальных единиц и территориальных единиц Смоленской области», в ред. Постановления №464 от 27 июня 2014 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 #464 of June 27, 2014 On Amending the Registry of the Administrative-Territorial Units and Territorial Units of Smolensk Oblast. ).
  • Смоленская областная Дума. Закон №130-з от 28 декабря 2004 г. «О наделении статусом муниципального района муниципального образования "Вяземский район" Смоленской области, об установлении границ муниципальных образований, территории которых входят в его состав, и наделении их соответствующим статусом», в ред. Закона №136-з от 9 декабря 2011 г. «О внесении изменений в областной Закон "О наделении статусом муниципального района муниципального образования "Вяземский район" Смоленской области, об установлении границ муниципальных образований, территории которых входят в его состав, и наделении их соответствующим статусом"». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Вестник Смоленской областной Думы и Администрации Смоленской области", №14, часть I, стр. 159, 30 декабря 2004 г. (Smolensk Oblast Duma. Law #130-z of December 28, 2004 On Granting the Status of the Municipal District to the Municipal Formation of "Vyazemsky District" of Smolensk Oblast, on Establishing the Borders of the Municipal Formations Whose Territories It Comprises, and on Granting Them Appropriate Status, as amended by the Law #136-z of December 9, 2011 On Amending the Oblast Law "On Granting the Status of the Municipal District to the Municipal Formation of "Vyazemsky District" of Smolensk Oblast, on Establishing the Borders of the Municipal Formations Whose Territories It Comprises, and on Granting Them Appropriate Status". Effective as of the official publication date.).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]