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Discover Vyazma
June 3, 2015 23:58


Vyazma stays on the old Smolensk road, and its location determines its history – history of another Russian town having gone through all wars with the maximum damage to it  and  inhabitants.

Distances in Vyazma are usually small, tourist objects of the town centre can be seen with the naked eye, and Sovetskaya Square is quite close to the General Efremov Square.

The mentioned unique monument also stands there, you can begin to immerse into the tragic story of Vyazma of XX century from here. The Lieutenant General Mikhail Efremov commanded the 33rd Army defeated in Vyazma Cauldron. Being a real hero of a terrible war, he ended his life as a true samurai: in a hopeless situation he refused to leave his soldiers on the plane sent from General Headquarters, sending the banners of army instead of himself, and being severely wounded, the General committed suicide and also shot his wife, a medical worker, not to be caught in captivity. The Germans appreciated the morale of the General and buried him with full military honors.

The monument was erected in the liberated Vyazma in 1946 – it is a sculpture by Evgenii Vuchetich depicting the General and his soldiers at the moment before death. Only one tower - Spasskaya – is left from the ancient Vyazma Kremlin  known since XIII century, the tower was built of white stone in 1630 and is unusually wide, which gives us an impression how powerful the walls that have not survived were.

The rest of the place of the fortress – the Sobornaya Mountain – is taken by the Arkadevsky Monastery or what is left of it. For example, the Church of Our Saviour that turned into the city library. The main cathedral of the monastery, the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, has been renovated recently, and the view of it from the opposite bank of the Vyazma River is one of the best views of the city: the white church and its reflection in the calm water.

The neighborhood of the monastery is a perfect place for game viewing in summer when everything is in bloom. But this is not the most beautiful monument of Vyazma. The Church of the Icon of the Mother of God Odigitria belongs to the Monastery of John the Baptist founded in 1535, and stands out among the monastic buildings as a stone flower.

There are only four such cathedrals left in Russia, two of them in Moscow, one in Vyazma and one in Uglich: three-tent churches in a patternwork style. The Church in Vyazma built in the middle of XVII century is also characterized by an exceptional acoustics, for pitcher resonators are incorporated into its walls.

Old Vyazma

Vyazma was first mentioned in written sources in 1239 when the town was given to Andrey Dolgaya Ruka (Andrey the Long Hand), the son of the Prince of Smolensk Vladimir Ryurikovich and the Vyazemskoye independent principality became a part of the Grand Principality of Smolensk.

In XV century Vyazma was consequently conquered by Lithuania and then Muscovite State. And Ivan the Terrible assigned Vyazma to Oprichnina.

Ivan the Terrible himself came to the city many times. After peasant rebellions and Polish intervention Vyazma was still exposed to the attacks by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, so in 30s of XVII century the Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich ordered to build new fortifications in the city. And during the Moscow plague epidemics in 1654-1655 years the Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich with his family and the Patriarch Nikon chose Vyazma as their residence.

In 1812, during the Patriotic War, Russian troops defeated the retreating Napoleon's army near Vyazma. About 400,000 Soviet soldiers died in the battles near Vyazma in October 1941. During the breakthrough 85,000 people escaped from the blockade, but about 688,000 Soviet soldiers and officers stayed in captivity. The city itself was occupied by the German troops. Only in March 1943 the city was liberated, but it got almost completely destroyed during the battles.

There were two German concentration camps on the city territory during the occupation. The captives often were not given food or water. Mortality in the camp reached 300 people per day in the winter of 1941-1942.

The city has mass graves of the people who died in the concentration camps, and their number made up from 70 to 80 thousand people.

However, the authorities did not honor this place, garages and gardens are located on the territory of the graves, the concentration camp was located right in the building of Vyazemsky meat packing plant. However, no monuments were erected.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Vyazma     

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