Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River,360 kilometers west-southwest of Moscow. The walled city in the center of Smolensk was destroyed several times throughout its history because it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk is noted for electronics, textiles, food processing, the name of the city is derived from the name of the Smolnya River. The origin of the name is less clear. One possibility is the old Slavic word смоль for black soil, an alternative origin could be the Russian word смола, which means resin, tar, or pitch. Pine trees grow in the area, and the city was once a center of resin processing, the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII recorded its name as Μιλινισκα. Within the city and its surroundings the river takes in small tributaries. In the valleys are stretched streets, high ridges, hills, Smolensk is situated on seven hills. The old part of the city occupies the high, rugged left bank of the Dnieper River, the area features undulating terrain, with a large number of tributaries, creeks and ravines. Smolensk is among the oldest Russian cities, the first recorded mention of the city was 863 AD, two years after the founding of Kievan Rus. According to Russian Primary Chronicle, Smolensk was located on the area settled by the West Slavic Radimichs tribe in 882 when Oleg of Novgorod took it in passing from Novgorod to Kiev, the first foreign writer to mention the city was the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. In De Administrando Imperio he described Smolensk as a key station on the route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The Rus people sailed from the Baltics up the Western Dvina as far as they could then they portaged their boats to the upper Dnieper. It was in Smolensk that they supposedly mended any leaks and small holes that might have appeared in their boats from being dragged on the ground and they used tar to do that, the Principality of Smolensk was founded in 1054. Due to its position in Kievan Rus, the city developed rapidly. By the end of the 12th century, the princedom was one of the strongest in Eastern Europe, numerous churches were built in the city at that time, including the church of Sts. Peter and Paul and the church of St. John the Baptist, the most remarkable church in the city is called Svirskaya, it was admired by contemporaries as the most beautiful structure east of Kiev. Smolensk had its own veche since the beginning of its history
Smolensk railway station
St. Michael's Church (Svirskaya) was built in 1180–1197.
Eagles monument in Smolensk, commemorating the centenary of the Russian victory over Napoleon