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Grodno

Country
Belarus
State
Grodno Region
City
Grodno
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Grodno is a city in Belarus.It is located on the Neman River,close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania (about 20 km and 30 km away respectively).It has 327,540 inhabitants (2009 census).It is the capital of Grodno Region (voblast) and Grodno raion (district).The following rivers flow through the city: the Neman River, the Lasasianka River and the Haradnicanka River with its branch the Jurysdyka river.modern city of Grodno originated as a small fortress and a fortified trading outpost maintained by the Rurikid princes on the border with the lands of the Baltic tribal union Yotvingians. Its name derives from the Old East Slavic verb gorodit', i.e., to enclose, to fence (see "grad" for details).

Mentioned in the Primary Chronicle under 1127 as Goroden' and located at a crossing of numerous trading routes, this Slavic settlement, possibly originating as far as the late 10th century, became the capital of a poorly attested but separate principality, ruled by Yaroslav the Wise's grandson and his descendants.Along with Navahrudak, Hrodna was regarded as the main city on the far west of so-called Black Ruthenia, a border region that was neighbouring the original Lithuania. It was often attacked by various invaders, especially the Teutonic Knights. In the 1240-1250s the Grodno area, as well as the most of Black Ruthenia, was controlled by princes of Lithuanian origin (Mindaugas and others) to form the Baltic-Slavic state - Grand Duchy of Lithuania on these territories. After the Prussian uprisings a large population of Old Prussians moved to the region. The famous Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas was the prince of Grodno from 1376 to 1392, and he stayed there during his preparations for the Battle of Grunwald (1410). Since 1413, Grodno had been the administrative center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship.

To aid the reconstruction of trade and commerce, the grand dukes allowed the creation of a Jewish commune in 1389. It was one of the first Jewish communities in the grand duchy. In 1441 the city received its charter, based on the Magdeburg Law. After the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Grodno became the capital of the short-lived Grodno Voivodeship in 1793.As an important centre of trade, commerce, and culture, Grodno remained one of the places where the Sejms were held. Also, the Old and New Castles were often visited by the Commonwealth monarchs including famous Stephen Báthory of Poland who made a royal residence here. In 1793 the last Sejm in the history of the Commonwealth occurred at Grodno. Two years afterwards, in 1795, Russia obtained the city in the Third Partition of Poland. It was in the New Castle on November 25 of that year that the last Polish king and Lithuanian grand duke Stanisław August Poniatowski abdicated. In the Russian Empire, the city continued to serve its role as a seat of Grodno Governorate since 1801. The industrial activities, started in the late 18th century by Antoni Tyzenhaus, continued to develop.

The city has one of the largest concentrations of Roman Catholics in Belarus. It is also a center of Polish culture, with the considerable number of Poles living in Belarus, residing in the city and its surroundings. All the while, the Eastern Orthodox population is also widely present here.This city is known for its very important Medical University, where many students from different parts of Belarus acquire an academic degree, as do a good number of foreign students as well. Other higher educational establishments are Yanka Kupala State University (the largest education center in Hrodna province) and Agricultural university.The town was planned to be dominated by the Old Grodno Castle, first built in stone by Grand Duke Vytautas and thoroughly rebuilt in the Renaissance style by Scotto from Parma at the behest of Stefan Batory, who made the castle his principal residence. Batory died at this palace seven years later (December, 1586) and originally was interred in Hrodna. (His autopsy there was the first to take place in Eastern Europe.) After his death, the castle was altered on numerous occasions, although a 17th-century stone arch bridge linking it with the city still survives. The Saxon monarchs of Poland were dissatisfied with the old residence and commissioned Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann to design the New Grodno Castle, whose once sumptuous Baroque interiors were destroyed during World War II.



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How to Reach

By Train

The train station at Grodno is where the change of car trucks (wheels and axles) takes place to accommodate different track guages on east and west routes is a place of almost terrifying size, disorder and noise.Carriges is uncoupled from the others and, in turn, is lifted about ten feet as the trucks are changed.This is done without notice and while the operation takes place one has a good view of the acres of rusted, obsolete and unused equipment that litters the area. Domestic trains from Minsk are daily, departing 4:22PM taking five hours, wuth several night trains. There are several international trains from Russia, the one from Moscow is daily and for a 16 h journey. From Saint Petersburg there is up to three departures a week taking 22 h. During summer additional routes are added, Odessa (39 h) via Kiev, Simferopol (37.5 h) and Sochi (62 h). From Poland, you have to travel to the small town of Kuznica just across the border, to get there change trains in Bialystok. A ticket is about 10,000 rubles.Note that cigarette smuggling is very common, and many people will be doing it.

By Bus

There are a lot of buses from Minsk (costs around 45,000 rubles for the express route, which takes 4 h) from Vostochnyj Station or from Druzhnaya Station (behind the main train station), few from Brest (the same price), few from Vilnius, one bus from Warsaw (departure around 10-11 a.m. from Warszawa-Stadion station; a few buses from Moscow.

By Car

Roads are pretty good, you can easily get here from Minsk, Brest, Vilnius (Lithuania), Bialystok, Warsaw (Poland).Be aware of borders, and possible waiting in line (especially on the Polish boarder Kuznica-Bruzgi or, with usually smaller lines, Berestavitsa).

Key places to visit
Old Hrodna Castle, Batory Square, Great Synagogue of Hrodna, New Hrodna Castle, The Jesuit Cathedral


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Places to Visit

Old Hrodna Castle

Originated in the 11th century as the seat of a dynasty of Black Ruthenian rulers, descended from a younger son of Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev.The 13th-century keep of the castle belonged to a type of Belarusian defensive tower represented by the Tower of Kamyanyets. Vytautas the Great added five Brick Gothic towers in 1391-98, transforming the castle into one of his main residences. Casimir IV Jagiellon also favoured Hrodna over Lithuania's official capital. It was there that the Polish Crown was offered to him, and it was there that he died in 1495.The castle's revival was owing to Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac who raised sufficient funds to finance the refurbishing of the royal residence. The restored castle was selected by King Michael of Poland as the location for every third Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The castle suffered extensive damage during the Great Northern War, forcing the royal court to move into the New Hrodna Castle.After the partitions of Poland the castle was given over to the Russian army and housed a barracks. The authorities of interwar Poland restored the chamber of the ambassadors and the Sejm Hall. At present the castle is classed as a museum.

Batory Square

Is the historical name (during the Polish period in 1921 - 1939) of Soviet (Savyetskaya) Square - the central square for the city of Hrodna in Belarus.It was named after Stephen Báthory, King of Poland who had a residence here in the 16th century.

Great Synagogue of Hrodna

located in Hrodna, Belarus, dates from the 16th century and is a 2007 pretender to UNESCO World Heritage Site.The Great Synagogue of Hrodna was built from 1576 to 1580 by Santi Gucci, who designed a Wooden synagogue at Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe's invitation. In 1887, the Hrodna Jews owned 88% of the commercial enterprises, 76% of the factories and workshops, and over 65% of the real estate in the city. Their property was estimated at 842,000 roubles at a time when the total sum of the city's properties was 1,202,000 roubles. In 1898, one of the first savings and loan cooperatives in Russia was founded in Grodno.

New Hrodna Castle

Is the royal palace of Augustus III of Poland and Stanisław August Poniatowski where the famous Grodno Sejm took place in 1793.The royal residence was built on the high bank of the Neman River at a little distance from the Old Hrodna Castle which had suffered great dilapidation in the aftermath of the Swedish occupation in the early 18th century. The two castles are joined by a 300-year-old arch bridge.Used as a hospital and barracks throughout most of the 19th century, the palace was renovated by the Polish administration in the interwar period. Scarcely anything is left of the original fabric of the castle, whose refined Rococo detailing vanished during the World War II. There followed a hasty and rather superficial refurbishing of the palace by the Soviets with a view to making it the headquarters of a local obkom.A plaque on the wall of the palace commemorates the council of war held in the royal residence by Tadeusz Kościuszko on 30 October 1794.

The Jesuit Cathedral

It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall.The church is a cross-domed building supported by six circular pillars.The outside is articulated with projecting pilasters, which have rounded corners, as does the building itself.The ante-nave contains the choir loft, accessed by a narrow gradatory in the western wall.Two other stairs were discovered in the walls of the side apses; their purpose is not clear.The floor is lined with ceramic tiles forming decorative patterns.The interior was lined with innumerable built-in jugs, which usually serve in Eastern Orthodox churches as resonators but in this case were scored to produce decorative effects.For this reason, the central nave has never been painted.

Right Time to Visit

August - October
February - April

Temperature

Information not available


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