Vitebsk has been known as a settlement since the X century. Then the ancient settlement was at the heart of the city, after a castle was built here. At the beginning of the XII century, the city was already considered a major trading center and an appanage principality. In the XIII-XIV centuries, new fortifications were built – the Upper and Lower castles. At that time, the city joined the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1410, a banner from Vitebsk participated in the Battle of Grunwald.
At the beginning of the XVI century, the Vitebsk voivodeship was formed, half a century later it was divided into the Vitebsk and Orsha povets, a little later the territory of the voivodeship expanded with the annexation of the Velizh volost. At the end of the century, King Sigismund the Third Vitebsk was given the Magdeburg right and the first coat of arms.
In 1623, the people of Vitebsk revolted, demanding a free choice of religion, when uniatism was imposed by the rulers. The Uniate archbishop was killed, for which the city suffered severe punishment. Vitebsk lost its Magdeburg rights, 19 people were executed, 2 of them burmistraes. The city was obliged to pay more than 3 thousand zlotys.
The city managed to regain the right to self-government in 1654. However, the quiet life of Vitebsk did not last long: in 1708, the Swedish army burned the city during the Northern War.
City Plan in the middle of the XVI century
A bridge was built across the Vitba, which connected the posad with the Lower Castle. Not far from it was the center of trade and public life of the city – Gostiny Dvor and the town hall. Nearby is a shopping area with many shops. In the center there were both churches and monasteries. Here was the main street at that time – the Great One. In the same century, several more important streets were formed. They subsequently became the basis on which the center of Vitebsk was developed and built.
In the XVIII century, Vitebsk was the second largest city after Gomel on the territory of present-day Belarus.
The history of Vitebsk as part of Russia
Vitebsk and the voivodeship were ceded to Russia after the first partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772). Then about 3 thousand people lived here. By 1785, the figure had grown to 10.5 thousand inhabitants.
In 1777, the first Vitebsk enterprise was completed – a factory for the production of leather named after him. Garnovsky. Later, metal and wood processing crafts developed in the city, and a small library was opened. By the beginning of the XIX century, the doors of the first gymnasium and the theological school opened, the meteorology station started working.
Significant land plots in the Vitebsk region were owned by representatives of the noble Sapieha family. Napoleon celebrated his 43rd birthday in Vitebsk
From July to October 1812, Vitebsk was captured by the French army. Then the development of the city went up – new enterprises, educational institutions were opened, trade was actively conducted. In 1866, the city connected with the capitals of Russia and Ukraine through the Riga-Oryol railway passing through Vitebsk.
In 1898, a tram was launched in Vitebsk – the first in modern Belarus. In 1905, the cinema started working, in 1926 – the theater.
In July 1941, Fascist troops entered the city
By autumn, 20,000 prisoners had been killed on the territory of the Vitebsk ghetto. Liberation in Vitebsk came in June of the 44th. More than 90% of the population was destroyed by military actions in the city. There are only 118 residents left.
Robert Rozhdestvensky and Ivan Bunin wrote about Vitebsk
Vitebsk is the birthplace of the Belarusian artist Marc Chagall. More than 376,000 people live in the regional center today, about 300 enterprises have been opened, the most famous are "Marko", "Belvest", "Vityaz". Since 1992, the international festival of arts "Slavic Bazaar" has been held in Vitebsk.
Sights of the city of Vitebsk
The first impressive thing is the architecture. The past and the present create a unique symbiosis: the Governor's Palace and the Town Hall of the XVI century are opposed to the Ice Palace and the pyramids of the shopping center "Marco City". Is it worth talking about the building of the railway station, the Veterinary Academy, Salt warehouses? If we talk about religious buildings, then they amaze even more. Here the Orthodox tradition is side by side with the Catholic, and the traditional "Russian style" is with classicism and eclecticism:
St. Barbara 's Church,
Church of Euphrosyne of Polotsk,
And this is only a small part of the entire architectural heritage in the church building of Vitebsk.
Vitebsk – the city of art
It is from here that the famous Surrealist and Cubist Marc Chagall hails. His house, where he grew up and was formed as a creative personality, has now become a museum, and the artist's exhibitions do not stop in the Art Center of the same name.
The art fund of this city is truly great: the Exhibition Museum of Modern Art, the Art, Literary and Local History Museums, the Museum of Private Collections and even the Museum of the History of the Vitebsk tram – it will take more than one day to study all this diversity. And also:
Yakub Kolas Theater,
The center of folk crafts "Zadvinye",
Repin's estate "Zdravnevo".
It is difficult to overestimate the cultural wealth of Vitebsk.