General information about the village
Today Beshenkovichi is a township located in the North of Belarus and it's a part of Vitebsk region. The distance from regional center is just over 50 kilometers.
In addition to Vitebsk, Beshenkovichi highways connected with such cities as Chashniki, Senno and Lepel, which are also regional centers of the Vitebsk region.
The origin of the name
The true origin of the word "Beshenkovichi" is not known. However, according to one version, the name of the village gave a rapid tream, appearing in the middle of the river, which is called the "beshen". This version is not excluded, because Beshenkovichi is located on the banks of the Daugava River, which, by the way, ran at the time, the route "from the Varangians to the Greeks".
There is another point of view on the appearance of the village name. According to it, the village has its name due to two brothers who came from Lepel and had a consonant surname.
The history of the village
The first written evidence of the existence of Beshenkovichi refers to 1447.
An important event in the history of the village was its acquisition in 1630 by Pavel Sapega, who not only transformed the village to the town, but also contributed to the acquisition of Magdeburg law.
At the same time on the banks of the Western Dvina River appears Marina, through which Beshenkovichi began to trade with Riga. Every year (twice a year) fairs, which gathered several thousand people, were held in the village.
The great Northern war also didn’t spare Beshenkovichi. So, at the beginning of the XVIII century the village was thrice visited by Peter I. Here the Peter and Paul's Church was built in his honor. Unfortunately, the temple has not survived till the present day.
The events of 1812 raised the village, when there was a garrison of the French. This time headquarters of Napoleon were here.
Beshenkovichi was swept by the First Russian revolution, which was attended by local Jews, speaking of slogans for the overthrow of the autocracy.
In 1917, member of the Soviet government was established, and in 1924 they became a district center. However, only in 1938 Beshenkovichi received the status of urban settlement.
The coat of arms
The coat of arms Beshenkovichi received in 2006. It is possible to see the red boat carrying Golden cargo – the evidence of past commercial glory of the village. Five blue zones depict the Western Dvina, and there is a sail that placed the coat of arms "Lis", which is an arrow with two rails (one of the elements of the coat of arms of Lev Sapieha, a famous politician who was born in the insular possessions on the territory of the Beshenkovichi district).
The rich history of Beshenkovichi left behind a significant legacy. Pride of place among the monuments is the house of Khreptovichi, including the Palace, the outbuildings and the Park. The estate was built in the 70-ies of the XVIII century.
Among the religious monuments there is the Church of St. Elias, built in the 60 years of the XVII century, and a Catholic chapel that was built in the XIX century.
A special place in the history of the settlement was played by Jews, who settled here in the seventeenth century. Today only the Jewish cemetery, one of the oldest in Belarus, reminds about their staying, the earliest inscriptions of which date from the early eighteenth century. There is also the obelisk on the site of the ghetto that existed here in 1941-1942.
A monument "the Oak of Napoleon" was in the village and disappeared quite recently. According to local legend, it is depicted in the painting of the painter Albrecht Adam Napoleon I.