Smolensk: A Celebration of History and Tradition – 08/2013
Smolensk is a city located in western Russia and is the administrative center of the Smolensk Oblast. It is one of the oldest cities in Russia, with the first mention of the city dating back to 863 AD. I had the opportunity to visit Smolensk during a time of great celebration as the city was preparing to celebrate its 1150th anniversary.
As we arrived in the city, we could see that it was undergoing serious preparations for the upcoming celebrations. The broken roads were being repaired, the central streets were being repaved, and the facades of buildings were being painted. The city was bustling with energy and excitement, as everyone was eager to celebrate this momentous occasion.
We spent our days exploring the city and immersing ourselves in its rich history. We walked through the ancient streets, marveling at the beautiful architecture and the historic landmarks that dotted the landscape. We visited the majestic Smolensk Kremlin, a fortress that has stood the test of time for centuries. We also visited the impressive Cathedral of the Assumption, a stunning example of Russian Orthodox architecture.
As the anniversary celebrations approached, the excitement in the air was palpable. The city was alive with music, dance, and festivities as people from all over came to celebrate this momentous occasion. It was truly an unforgettable experience, and we felt grateful to be a part of this historic event.
1. The air of ancient Italy permeates this abandoned building, though it is neither light nor truly Italian. Its state reflects the overall state of the city.
2. The banks of the Dnieper River on this side are neglected, while on the other side, there seems to be some development taking place. It’s a shame that this side has been overlooked, as it has so much potential for beauty and recreation. Hopefully, the city will invest in its upkeep and bring it back to life.
3. The Smolensk fortress walls were built in the late 16th century, with architect Fyodor Kon taking inspiration from Moscow’s Kremlin. The original length was around 7km, but in 1812, Napoleon’s army destroyed more than half of it. Today, only around 3km remain, some of which are undergoing restoration. It’s impressive to see the skill and ingenuity of the builders who constructed these walls so long ago, and it’s important that we preserve what is left of them as a reminder of our past.
4. The Smolensk Cathedral of the Assumption, dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God, was built on Cathedral Hill in the late 17th century to replace the 12th-century cathedral that was destroyed by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It’s a stunning example of Baroque architecture, with its intricate façade and soaring bell tower visible from miles away. The cathedral is not only a place of worship but also a testament to the resilience of the people of Smolensk, who rebuilt this magnificent structure after its destruction.
5. The exact year of the foundation of the Holy Trinity Monastery is unknown, but it is known that in 1669 it was converted from the Uniate to the Orthodox faith. The monastery’s architecture reflects its rich history and the different periods of its existence.
6. The SMOLENSK HOTEL is an eight-star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ wonder located in the city center. Despite the high room rates, the service and cleanliness are lacking and comparable to a youth camp.
7 .We witnessed the rehearsal of the parade for the 1150th anniversary of the city. War, horses, and hussars – everything was in order.
8. Smolensk cafeteria. There was a similar one in Nesvizh, years before 1999.
9. It’s a pity that Smolensk didn’t host the World Cup in 2018, even though the stadium was almost ready. It would have been a great event for the city.
10. One of the restored towers is called “Oryol.” It was reconstructed to its former glory after being destroyed during the war. Today, it stands tall as a symbol of the city’s resilience.
11. Inside it got a little burned.
12. The House of Soviets was built in 1932 but was heavily damaged during the war and had to be rebuilt by 1953. The Stalinist monumentality can be seen in Lenin Square.
13. The Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary is a neo-Gothic style church in Smolensk, built in 1896. From the 1950s, it housed the archive storage of the Smolensk region. It was supposed to be removed from the church in honor of the city’s anniversary, but the church remains non-functioning due to its critical technical condition.
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