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The town of Vyazma is located 175 km to the south east of Smolensk in the Smolensk Region and stands on banks of the Vyazma River. Vyazma is a quiet and peaceful town amidst picturesque nature. It has the population of 54.9 thousand dwellers (2009).

History of Vyazma

The first records of Vyazma date back to 1239. The fortress erected here at that time was the centre of the Vyazma Princedom belonging to Prince Andrey Vladimirovich Dolgaya Ruka (i.e. the Long Hand). Later the lands of Vyazma were annexed to the Smolensk Princedom, and the fortress became one of its major outposts. In 1403 the princedom was seized by Lithuanians, and only in 1493 it was won over and attached to the Great Moscow Princedom. During the Time of Troubles it was repeatedly exposed to attacks of the Poles and in this connection a mighty fortress known as the Bolshoi Nizhni Gorod (Big bottom town) was erected in Vyazma in 1632. In 1654-1655 Vyazma for a while became the residence of Tsar Alexey Mihailovich, who waited there for the epidemic that had burst out in Moscow to cease. For that purpose an imperial palace was constructed in Vyazma. In 1776 Vyazma became a district town of the Smolensk Province. It stood on the Smolensk Road that connected Moscow to Europe and due to that Vyazma became a large trading centre. In October, 1812 Russian troops struck a breaking blow to Napoleon's retreating army near Vyazma.

Sightseeing in Vyazma

Only the Spassky Tower (late 17th century) has remained on the territory of the ancient Bolshoi Nizhni Gorod, where the towns Kremlin used to stand. The Kremlin was constructed in 1632 under the reign of Tsar Michael Fyodorovich. In the 1670s the Trinity Church was built on the place of a destroyed cathedral on the hill of the Verkhni Maly Gorod (Upper Small Town). It is now the major cathedral of the town; inside of it there are remains of fresco paintings and a carved iconostasis with the icon of the towns patroness - Iveron Divine Mother. It is also worth seeing St. John the Baptist Convent in Vyazma. First constructions were erected there in the early 16th century.

The most ancient of the convents architectural monuments and of Vyazma in general is the Church of the Hodegetria Icon. The three-domed church was built of figured bricks in 1638. Apart from the church the convent complex includes the Ascension Church with a refectory, a belfry, and the priest rooms.

Other interesting religious constructions of the town include the Peter and Paul's Cathedral (Georgievsky), constructed in the style of classicism, the Saviours Transfiguration Church (1736), and the Holy Mother Church (1727), presently housing the Vyazma Historical Museum of Regional Studies. The museum takes eight halls, which display archeological collections, peasant clothes of the late 19 early 20th cc., various samovars, medals and coins, documents of the period of the Patriotic War of 1812 and the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

Several monuments to the heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812 were set up in the town: a monument to the "Valorous ancestors" by the the Saviours Transfiguration Church and a monument to the Pernovsky Regiment near the Holy Mother Church .

Khmelita the State Historical and Cultural and Natural Memorial Estate of Alexander Griboedov is situated 35 km to the north west of Vyazma. It was established in 1990 on the basis of the memorial estate of Alexander Sergeevich Griboedov. The well-known playwright, poet and diplomat spent his childhood and youth in this estate; this is where he wrote the biggest part of his famous comedy Woe from Wit.

Vyazma is the native land of many famous people, such as the pilot Yury Yanov, starry actor Anatoly Papanov, and others.

Princess Iuliania Vyazemskaya (of Vyazma) (13?? −1406), an Orthodox saint, lived in Vyazma. She was killed in the town of Torzhok (nowadays the Tver Region).

Kozyrev Valentin Timofeevich (19161997), an outstanding Soviet designer of aviation engines, was born in Vyazma.

Mikhail Bulgakov worked in Vyazma as a doctor.




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