Smolensk and its history
Минченкова Кристина, студентка группы 2КВ-05
Smolensk is one the oldest of Russian cities. The first recorded mention of the city was 863 AD, two years after the founding of ancient Rus. According to Russian Primary Chronicle, Smolensk was the capital of the Slavic Krivichi 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 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); contemporaries admired it as the most beautiful structure to the east of Kiev.
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 that 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 capital of Guberniya in 1708.
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