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Rzhev is the first town that Volga River meets on its way, and while admiring its scenery out of the windows we must do justice to it: in a proper manner starts it the glorious range of Volga towns known for their purely Russian beauty and picturesque location. These lines from the Russian journal Historical Messenger of 1894 exactly convey the splendor of this old Russian town.

Rzhev is a town of Tver Region, Russian Federation. It is located in the south-western part of Valdai Elevation, on the Volga River, 130 km to the south-west of Tver. It is a railway junction. The towns population is 68.4 thousand people (as of 2002).

Its main industries are machine building, flax processing and food.

The architectural monuments include St. John the Precurser Church (1818) with a belfry (1841), the Ascension Church (1855) and Smolensk Church (1861). There are also some pre-revolutionary buildings of the 19th century to be seen.

The town has two museums: the Local History Museum and Museum of Great Patriotic War with the diorama Battle for Rzhev.


The first people whose settlements near Rzhev are established by both material and written sources was a multiple and powerful Slavic tribe of Krivichi. Burial mounds found near Rzhev along the banks of Volga River and dating back to the 8th-12th century belonged to this very Slavic people.

The date of the towns foundation remains unknown, yet it was first recorded in a chronicle of 1216 as Rzheva Settlement, possession of Prince Mstislav the Daring. In the 13th century it was part of Smolensk Princedom; in the late 13th-early 14th cc it was the centre of Rzhev Princedom and later was again under the dominion of Smolensk princes.

In the 14th -15th cc the town was a bone of contention between Smolensk Princedom, Great Lithuanian Princedom and Great Tver Princedom. In 1449 Rzhev ended up as part of Moscow Princedom. In the early 18th century after the building of Vyshni Volochek water system it came to be a port on the waterway to St. Petersburg. In 1847 the railroad connecting Vyazma and Likhoslavl was laid through the town and in 1890 was followed by the railroad Vindava Moscow.

These events marked the beginning of a new period in the towns history. In the 19th century it was undergoing intense industrial and commercial development. Rzhev became a big centre for flax trading, as well as hemp processing and production of hemp yarn and threads.

Before the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 the town was rich in architectural monuments and had the population of 56 thousand people. During the war it was almost totally destroyed by the German troops.

Rzhev Battle of 1941-1943 was the bloodiest one in the war history and the one most suppressed by historians. On Rzhev springboard there stayed two thirds of Nazi Centre army for attacking Moscow. The losses of Soviet forces in fights under Rzhev exceeded 2 million people, the figure twice bigger than the losses in legendary Stalingrad Battle. Army 29 all perished in the woods near Rzhev. The town itself was turned into a lunar landscape.

In the course of military action within 17 months of German occupation Rzhev was razed to the ground. Out of 20 thousand people that found themselves on the occupied territory only 150 were left alive by the liberation day of March 3, 1943. Only 297 houses remained out of the towns 5 443 domestic buildings. After the war Rzhev was rebuilt.

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  (Tver Region)

Cities of the region

    Vyshny Volochyok
    Zapadnaya Dvina

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