Theme Week Belarus – Vitebsk

Wednesday, 27 July 2022 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
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Vitsebsk © panoramio.com - Svetlov Artem/cc-by-3.0

Vitsebsk © panoramio.com – Svetlov Artem/cc-by-3.0

Vitebsk or Viciebsk is a city in Belarus. The capital of the Vitebsk Region, it has 366,299 inhabitants, making it the country’s fourth-largest city. It is served by Vitebsk Vostochny Airport and Vitebsk Air Base. Vitebsk developed from a river harbor where the Vićba River, from which it derives its name, flows into the larger Western Dvina, which is spanned in the city by the Kirov Bridge.

Under the Russian Empire, the historic centre of Vitebsk was rebuilt in the Neoclassical style. The Battle of Vitebsk was fought west of the city on 26–27 July 1812 as Napoleon attempted to engage decisively with the Russian army. While the French were to occupy the town for over three months (the emperor celebrating his 43rd birthday there) the Russian army was able to slip away with minimal losses towards Smolensk. Before World War II, Vitebsk had a significant Jewish population: according to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 65,900, Jews constituted 34,400 (around 52% percent). The most famous of its Jewish natives was the painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985). In 1919 Vitebsk was proclaimed to be part of the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia (January to February 1919), but was soon transferred to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and later to the short-lived Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (February to July 1919). In 1924 it was returned to the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. During World War II the city came under Nazi German occupation (11 July 1941 – 26 June 1944). During Operation Barbarossa, 22,000 Jews, or 58% of Vitebsk’s Jewish population, managed to successfully evacuate to the interior of the Soviet Union, thus saving themselves from the impending Holocaust. Much of the old city was destroyed in the ensuing battles between the Germans and Red Army soldiers. Most of the remaining local Jews perished in the Vitebsk Ghetto massacre of October 1941. The Soviets recaptured the city during the 1944 Vitebsk–Orsha Offensive.

Kastryčnicki rajon © panoramio.com - Svetlov Artem/cc-by-3.0 Marc Chagall Art Center © Alex Zelenko/cc-by-sa-4.0 New Year's eve © panoramio.com - Andrej Kuzniecyk/cc-by-3.0 Vitsebsk © panoramio.com - Svetlov Artem/cc-by-3.0 Former City Hall, now hosting the city's history museum © Andron Holmoff/cc-by-sa-3.0 18th International Art Festival Slavyansky Bazar opens in 2009 © RIA Novosti archive - Ivan Rudnev/cc-by-sa-3.0
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18th International Art Festival Slavyansky Bazar opens in 2009 © RIA Novosti archive - Ivan Rudnev/cc-by-sa-3.0
In the first postwar five-year period the city was rebuilt. Its industrial complex covered machinery, light industry, and machine tools. In 1959 a TV tower was commissioned and started broadcasting the 1st Central Television program. In the same year, during excavations on Liberation Square, a birch-bark scroll was found dating from the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. It read:

From Stpana to Nezhilovi. Also, if hast sold trousers, buy me rye for 6 hryvnia. And if some didst not sold, send to my person. And if thou hast sold, do good to buy rye for me.

In January 1991, Vitebsk celebrated the first Marc Chagall Festival. In June 1992, a monument to Chagall was erected on his native Pokrovskaja Street and a memorial inscription was placed on the wall of his house. Since 1992 Vitebsk has been hosting the annual Slavianski Bazaar, an international music festival. The main participants are artists from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, with guests from many other countries, both Slavic and non-Slavic. In 1999 the free economic zone “Vitebsk” was established. There has been a remarkable improvement and expansion of the city. The central stadium was reconstructed, and the Summer Amphitheatre, the railway station and other historical sites and facilities were restored, and the Ice Sports Palace along with a number of new churches and other public facilities were built, together with the construction of new residential areas.

The city has one of the oldest buildings in the country: the Annunciation Church. The building dates back to the period of Kievan Rus since the city at the time was pagan and didn’t belong to the Ukrainian or Russian Orthodox Church or the Kievan Rus state. It was constructed in the 1140s as a pagan church, rebuilt in the 14th and 17th centuries as a Roman Catholic Church, restored in 1883 and destroyed by the Soviet administration in 1961. The church was in ruins until 1992, when it was restored to its presumed original appearance. Churches from the Polish-Lithuanian period were likewise destroyed, although the Resurrection Church (1772–77) has been rebuilt. The Orthodox cathedral, dedicated to the Intercession of the Theotokos, was erected in 1760. There are also the town hall (1775); the Russian governor’s palace, where Napoleon celebrated his 43rd birthday in 1812; the Neo-Romanesque Roman Catholic cathedral (1884–85); and an obelisk commemorating the centenary of the Russian victory over Napoleon. Vitebsk is also home to a lattice steel TV tower carrying a horizontal cross on which the antenna mast is guyed. This tower, which is nearly identical to that at Grodno, but a few metres shorter (245 metres in Vitebsk versus 254 metres at Grodno) was completed in 1983. The city is also home to the Marc Chagall Museum and the Vitebsk regional museum.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on YesBelarus.com – Vitebsk, Wikivoyage Vitebsk and Wikiedia Vitebsk. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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