Smolensk sights – top 40
Smolensk is one of the most remarkable cities in Russia. The city has heroically survived several sieges. The beauty of Orthodox churches is combined with powerful defensive structures. This article tells about what sights Smolensk must be visited by every tourist.
Historical Museum of Smolensk
Smolensk is a city with a rich history. The first settlements on this territory appeared as early as 100,000 years ago. During a thousand years of existence Smolensk accumulated 1500 artefacts, and in 1888 the authorities decided to create a historical museum. The museum has two main expositions: the first one presents ancient finds, and the second one features archeological finds from the era of Kievan Rus. The museum features 3D models of buildings that have not survived until nowadays.
2. Smolensk embankment
The first draft of the embankment was presented in 1816, during the reconstruction of the city after the Patriotic War. As a result, the construction lasted for 198 years, and the finished street was officially presented in 2014. Improvement of the embankment is still underway, but already now there are trees and flowers planted, and cozy benches are placed everywhere. Playgrounds have been built for children. In the evenings here come musicians and artists, so many tourists feel like on the Arbat.
3. Blonier Garden
The city authorities allocated a place for the garden in 1830. The most famous is the luxurious fountain located in the center of the square. Its peculiarity is that it changes the intensity and color of the jets in tune with the music. In 1885 in the garden there was established a monument to Mikhail Glinka – the famous Russian composer. After the end of the Great Patriotic War in this landmark of Smolensk were installed figures of two lions and a deer – military trophies received from the Germans.
4. Smolensk fortress wall
The whole history of Smolensk is connected with military operations. In the early 17th century Tsar Boris Godunov thought of defending this important settlement, so a large-scale construction of the fortress wall began in the city. The defensive construction did not help in the Russo-Polish war, but the wall was appreciated by all the commanders of the time. Only half of the towers have survived. Smolensk fortress wall has an unusual architecture – there is something to see.
5. Smolensk Fortress
One of the main attractions of Smolensk is a fortress built in 1600. The previous building was of wood, but Ivan IV considered such a construction unreliable, and therefore ordered it to be rebuilt in stone. Workers hurried to finish all the work by 1603 – at that time was ending an armistice with Poland. All towers of the fortress are different. The walls of Smolensk fortress still have active buildings, in particular, there is a TV tower.
6. Smolensk Cathedral
The main architectural jewel of the city is the Smolensk Cathedral, built in 1611 after a heroic defense against the Poles. Originally on this site was a wooden church of the XII century with Byzantine frescoes. The height of the cathedral is 69 meters, and next to it there are chapels, cells and other cultural buildings. The architecture of the building is in the Baroque style. The interior decoration of the cathedral is decorated with iconostasis, the height of which is 31 meters.
7. Veselukha tower
Veselukha tower is a part of the Smolensk fortress wall. There are many scary rumors and myths associated with this massive construction – what is only the legend that explains the tower’s name. Under the Veselukha there are secret passages, where locals can hide in wartime. At the top there is an observation deck. Veselukha tower is considered one of the most famous sights of Smolensk, all tourist routes pass through it.
8. Smolensk railway station
The first railway station in the city was built in 1868, with the beginning of railroad development in the Russian Empire. The original building was destroyed by German troops during the Great Patriotic War, and therefore the modern structure was built only in 1952. The station’s architects were inspired by neoclassicism style, skillfully combining it with the latest fashion trends of the middle of the 20th century. In addition, the owners of the station collected in the halls an impressive collection of paintings of the XIX century.
9. Thunder Tower
Russian architect Fyodor Kon took great care in building the fortress towers – each one was unlike the others. The result was 38 true works of art, among which the Thunder Tower occupies a special place. A new museum was opened inside it in 2017, introducing all tourists to the original history of Smolensk. Near the tower is a remnant of the fortress wall, which has been preserved since the 16th century. Anyone can take a walk on it.
10. Engelhardt’s house
In 1878 the mayor of Smolensk, Alexander Engelhardt, commissioned him to build a luxurious residence. The interior of the house was rich and luxurious, and there was a picturesque garden in the north-eastern part of the estate. Subsequently it was here that the Wedding Palace was opened, and this building is very suitable for it. The architecture of this Smolensk landmark is in the baroque style, which adds authenticity and originality to the house. They say that every resident of Smolensk has been here at least once.
Main places of interest in Smolensk and surroundings
Situated on the Dnieper hills, the main city of the tribe of Kriviches is famous for its ancient history and heroic past. Smolensk lands are hiding many secrets. They remember the times of an independent princedom, the Time of Troubles, the invasion of Napoleon’s army, and the events of the Great Patriotic War.
Smolensk and Smolensk region tours cover a wide range of topics: from military and historical to cultural, so there is a lot for tourists to see. The amount of excursion will depend on the duration of the trip. But even in one day you can visit a lot of interesting places, because the main tourist routes pass through the historic center of the city.
We collected photos and descriptions of the most important sights of Smolensk and its surroundings, their names you can find on our map:
↑ 1. Smolensk fortress wall
Built by order of Boris Godunov on the site of an earlier wooden fortress. Erected in the period from 1595 to 1602. The most powerful fortress walls in Russia, stretching for more than six kilometers, and 38 towers once turned the city into an impregnable fortification.
Only part of the construction, tested by time and wars, survived to this day – 18 towers and 9 wall fragments. The best preserved part is the 1.5 km long section in the eastern part of the city. The view from the Eagle Tower is particularly impressive.
↑ 2. Lopatinsky Garden
One of the oldest city parks. It is located in the center of the city, near the southwest part of the fortress wall. It was laid by the governor and patron of arts A. G. Lopatin in 1874 on the place of the Royal Bastion. The monument to Lopatin is installed at the main entrance to the park. The old monument “To the defenders of Smolensk on August 4-5, 1812” is also preserved.
There are historical objects, attractions for children, shady alleys, and a romantic lake, arranged on the site of an ancient fortress moat. In the garden you can walk along the graceful bridge, see the grottoes with lions guarding the underground casemates, relax on the art benches with figurative lanterns-humans, listen to live music.
↑ 3. Assumption Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Assumption stands on the Sobornaya Hill on the site of the first stone temple in the city, built during the reign of Vladimir Monomakh and destroyed during the Polish siege of the early 17th century. It was built in the 18th century in memory of the heroic defenders of Smolensk.
The church contains relics of the patron saint of the town, St. Mercury of Smolensk, and his iron sandals. The decoration of the temple is a unique five-tiered gilt iconostasis.
↑ 4. Bolshaya Sovetskaya Street
The main street of the city with impressive architecture of houses stretches from the Dnieper to Victory Square. Its prototype was laid during the times of Peter the Great by order of the tsar.
There are many Smolensk landmarks – architectural monuments and historical sites. If you ascend higher, you can appreciate the view of the Assumption Cathedral. The oldest building on this street is Trinity Monastery, founded in the XVII century.
↑ 5. Blonier Garden
Ancient park in the center of Smolensk with century-old trees and cultural monuments. It was laid out in 1830. In 1885 a monument to the composer Mikhail Glinka was erected here. Today the garden is named after the composer.
On the main avenue not far from the monument the bronze sculptures of a noble deer and two lions that once were a decoration of Kaiser Wilhelm II manor are frozen.
↑ 6. Historical Museum
This museum is located in the Blonier Garden on the main street, in a late 19th century brick building with three stories at 8 Lenina Street. In front of the entrance are antique Prussian cannons, trophies of the Russian army in the war of 1812.
The museum presents expositions covering the rich history of the Smolensk land over the centuries. Among the unique exhibits are weapons of Russian knights and Vikings, birch-bark manuscripts, frescoes, coins and jewelry.
↑ 7. Engelhardt House
The two-storey mansion of the chamberlain Engelhardt who was the head of Smolensk province. Built to the design of architect Y. Konoplyansky in 1879. It is a wonderful example of architecture of eclecticism period with a predominance of baroque style.
Nowadays the Palace of marriage is located in the old mansion. Find the building on Glinka Street, in the center of the city.
↑ 8. Museum “In the world of fairy tales
Excursions to this museum will be interesting and informative for children. The exhibitions feature fairy tale characters and scenes from favorite fairy tales. In addition, the exposition uses authentic household items and toys from the museum collection.
Little visitors are not only allowed to look at, but also to touch many of the exhibits. Live fairy tale characters can take part in excursions, contests and games.
↑ 9. Peter and Paul Church
The oldest stone church in Smolensk was built in 1146. It was made of red brick. In the XVIII century it was included in the volume of the Church of Great Martyr Barbara.
The original appearance of the church, which was damaged during the war, was restored in the early 1960s. Since 1991 services have been held there again. The Iveron icon of the Mother of God of the Mount Athos was brought to the church in 1997.
↑ 10. Readovsky park
Located on the slopes of the Yasennaya River in the southwestern part of Smolensk. The park with a spring and a pond is one of the favorite places for citizens to relax.
One of the most revered city memorials, “the Burial Mound of Immortality,” is also located here. It was erected in the central part of the park in 1970 in memory of the soldiers and partisans who died during the Great Patriotic War. Nearby, by the mass grave, there is a monument “Mourning Mother.
↑ 11. Katyn
The Katyn Memorial Complex is located west of Smolensk, in the Katyn Forest, between the villages of Katyn and Gnezdovo. It was built on the site of the tragic events of the 1930s-1940s in memory of the victims of repression, who were shot and buried in Katyn.
There are Russian and Polish cemeteries on the territory of the memorial. In the Main Pavilion there is an exhibition “1940. The Katyn case. History and Modernity. You can visit the museum and exhibition center with a guide or on your own.
↑ 12. The Red pine forest
This natural complex with an age-old forest, mineral springs and lakes is located near the Dnieper in the western part of the Zadneprovsky district.
On the territory of the Red pine forest is the largest burial mound complex in Slavic Rus with pagan burial monuments.
One more object, which attracts tourists’ attention is the so-called “Hitler’s Bunker”, also known as “Berenhalle”.
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