Smolensk is one of the oldest cities in Russia. The city has been taken over by different countries more times than any other city in Russia, so has its own cultural background. Therefore there are many monuments from different epochs: huge Kremlin many buildings dated back to XVIII-XIX centuries. There also 3 churches that were built before Tatar-Mongol invasion which is rare. Due to many wars some of these buildings have been destroyed. The city leaves different feelings, but it is hard to be leaving the city feeling indifferent.
The first recorded mention of the city is in 863 AD. It was the capital of Slavic Krivichs tribe in the ninth century. Smolensk is a city with great history. Since XII century it was a capital of the princedom, but since 1522 it became a city of Moscow kingdom. In 1596 the great fortress was built to protect people. Now this fortress is the most interesting sight of the city. It's bigger than Moscow fortress (the Kremlin). The length of its walls is about 6.5 km.
Although there are two airports, they are used by military only and civil planes are not accepted. There are discussions to revert them to civil airports, but the projects are still on hold.
From Moscow several trains from Belorusskiy train station reach Smolensk in 5-6 hours. Some of them reach into Europe as far as to Paris and Nice (in summer only). The same trains can be used to reach Smolensk from Belarus. Daily express connects Smolensk with Bryansk. Railway Station Inquiry Office: 27-15-20, 39-52-85
Several times a week there are buses connecting Smolensk with European towns, such as Berlin, Warsaw, Madrid, Riga and some others, the timetable is subject to change, though. Other buses run to Mogilev, Kaluga, Velikiye Luki, Kursk and Tver. Daily buses run to Mstislavl, Belgorod, Bryansk, Moscow, Oryol, Saint Petersburg and Tula. Bus Station Inquiry Office: 27-09-52
By car and by thumb
Smolensk is situated on the M1/E30 and A141 highways. Both are good for hitchhiking as well, though note, that M1 is about 6km from the town.
The city has three kinds of public transportation: buses, trolleybuses and trams. It is most convenient to use trams in the city center using one of 4 routes. The cost is 19 руб (2018) and needs to be paid to check-taker in the tram. It is also common to use taxis which is not really expensive - an average trip within the city would cost 130 RUR.
- Assumption Cathedral. A 300-year-old cathedral in the baroque style.
- Fortress walls.
- 1 Derzhava hotel (Гостиница «Держава»), Kashena 5a ( ул. Кашена) (near to the railway station), ☏ , . Free Wi-Fi 1700-2300 RUR.
- 2 Medlen (Гостиница «Медлен»), Rumyantseva 19 (ул. Румянцева) (2 km from the center), ☏ . 1800 (2011).
- 3 Patriot (Гостиница «Патриот»,), Kirova 22g ( ул. Кирова) (half an hour walk from the center), ☏ . There are complaints about the lack of hot water. Free Wi-Fi. 1700 руб.
- Katyń. Several kilometers from Smolensk lies the Katyn (Russian: Катынь; Polish: Katyń) forest. In 1940, during World War II, the forest was the site of a massacre of some 4,410 of Poland's intelligentsia, political elite, soldiers and high-ranking military officials. The term "Katyń massacre", however, has come to encompass a series of massacres of Poles by directive of Joseph Stalin. In total, 21,768 Poles of various professions (professors, doctors, soldiers, lawmakers, and police officers) were murdered at the hands of the Soviet Union's NKVD.