The town called Yelsk with ten thousand residents is located in the South of Gomel region. In spite of the popular belief, the name of the town is not associated with the fir tree although these two words correspond in the Russian language. These coniferous trees have never grown in the vicinity of the city. Linguists have also proved that the suffix "–SK" was never used in the formation of toponyms fr om the names of plants. But it was used in the formation of names from the ponds; therefore the most reliable of the currently existing versions is that the word “Yelsk” comes from the name of the river Yela, or Yelka, occurring on its territory in the ancient times. The names of rivers and lakes starting with the combination of the syllables of "el", often derived from the Finno-Ugric bases which means “a spring, a forest stream, a river”.
Wonderful woodland nature, ancient buildings, a monument of wooden architecture - the Holy Trinity Church, built in the late XVIIIth century – all this attracts tourists from all corners of Belarus.
The history of the town of Yelsk
The appearance of the town on the maps of Belarus dates back to the XVIth century. Then it was a small settlement, which was a part of Mozyr district in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It belonged to the noble French family of the Spads, who had emigrated out of France due to religious persecution. Then Yelsk passed to the kin of the Askerovs, then to the family of the Sulistrowskies. After the Union of Lublin in 1569 the power over the territory of Yelsk belonged to Poland. Then the town acquired a new name of Korolin. After the second partition of the Polish State Yelsk became a part of Mozyr district, Minsk province. At that time it was renamed and was called Nikolayev. And only in 1931 the town got its historic name back.
In 1873 a train station was built in the area of Yelsk. That led to a leap in the development of the town. From 1941 to 1944 the town was in occupation. After the war the population of the village was growing, the industry was rapidly developing. In 1971 Yelsk became a town.
The identical card of Yelsk is the Holy Trinity Church, which was built in the 1770's and acquired its modern image a hundred years later. It is an architectural masterpiece, a perfectly preserved monument of wooden architecture of that time and it decorates the town to the present days. A beautiful legend is connected with the construction of the Church. In 1757 a local peasant named Ivan Didico was looking for lost oxen. Having wandered around for a long time, he found his herd at last. It had gathered round the icon of the mother of God, which was shining in the branches of a pear tree. It was decided to build a temple at the site wh ere the icon had appeared. Soon miracles began to happen on that place. Believers of different religions were coming to visit Yelsk. The miracles that happened in the period between 1773 and 1787 were listed in Polish language and kept in the village of Meleshkovichi. The icon itself was lost during the Soviet times.
Yelsk Museum of the local lore is also worth paying attention. It has a wonderful collection of paintings by local artist Michael Asincom. In addition, the Museum presents 3600 exhibits, acquainting visitors with the local flora and fauna.
There is also a memorial called "To the Victims of the 20th century." It is dedicated not only to those fallen during the great wars of the XXth century, but to the people, who suffered from the largest technological catastrophe of the past century – the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The interesting fact about the monument is that it was originally located in the village of Nekrasovka, which disappeared from the surface of the earth as a result of Chernobyl disaster. The memorial was moved to Yelsk.