The town of Dzerzhinsk is interesting by the fact that under different names it was a part of the Old Russian state, which makes it one of the oldest towns of Minsk region. It is located at 30 kilometers’ distance from our capital. The site of an ancient settlement “Goštautai Mountain” is widely regarded the best-known landmark of the town. For the years of its existence the town has changed its name three times. In ancient times it was called Krutogorye, in the Middle Ages – Koydanovo (according to legend, the name came from the name of the Tatar khan Koidan), and in 1932 received its present name Dzerzhinsk in honor of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who was born nearby.
The town with associative name Krutogorye had been known since the XII century, however 1439 is considered to be the official date of reference, in connection with the mention of Koydanovo in historical chronicles. In 1483 Dzerzhinsk was the demesne property of Verey dynasty and in 1522 the Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Albertas Goštautai became the owner of the town. Thanks to the Goštautai dynasty Dzerzhinsk is very popular among tourists nowadays. “Goštautai Mountain” – the ruins of an ancient castle, destroyed in the XVI century, still excite imagination and attract eyes.
The town was twice destroyed by the Crimean Tatars (in 1502 and 1503 respectively). In the first half of the XVI century it was the possession of the Polish kings. One of them Sigismund III Vasa allowed the locals to hold two large annual fairs on the great Christian festivals as well as the weekly market. The number of the annual fairs eventually increased to four a year (on Candlemas, Trinity, Saint George's Day and Intercession of the Theotokos). Later on in 1550 Radziwills became the owners of the town. They were undisputed proprietors of this land before 1831.
According to the Second Partition of Poland Koydanovo became a part of the Russian Empire. In 1812 the town was occupied by the French troops. At the end of that year there was a historically significant battle, thanks to the victory in which the Russian troops got the possibility to move forward to Minsk.
In 1851 a stone Holy Intercession Church was built in Koydanovo. Visiting the church is also included to the program of many tours. It is known because of the miracle that happened in 2005 – twelve icons began to stream myrrh here. Since that time the Holy Intercession Church in Dzerzhinsk has become a place which attracts pilgrims from all over Belarus.
With the passing of time the infrastructure of the town developed greatly. New manufactures were opened, giving the locals new jobs. In 1871 the railway was built in Koydanovo and a two-storey building of the station was erected. By that time the town had already been multi-religious. Side by side there were Orthodox, Calvinist and Catholic churches, a synagogue and two Jewish schools.
During the First World War there was the frontline on the territory of Koydanovo and bombs often fell here. However, the town had survived until the arrival of the Polish troops. They burnt it in 1920. During the Second World War the town was occupied by the Nazi invaders for 3 years.
What to see?
- First, tourists should pay attention to the remains of the ancient settlement. The ruins of the tower and ramparts are the oldest monument of medieval architecture.
- Two Christian architectural masterpieces should also be mentioned. They are the Holy Intercession Church built in 1851 and the Church of St. Anne – a Catholic church built in Dzerzhinsk in 1785. The Church of St. Anne was not available for the believer for some time. Its building housed a music school.
Dzerzhinsk is famous not only for the architectural heritage. It is here the highest point of Belarus, Dzerzhinsk Mountain (345 meters above sea level) is located.