Smolensk



Smolensk

Name: Irina Novikova

Age: 30

Profession: Museum employee

City: Smolensk

How long have you been doing photography? I am not a professional photographer. I merely photograph what seems interestiong or beautiful to me, like most people. Photography to me is like a visual notebook. 

What style or genre most interests you? I love portraits and landscapes, both looking at them and taking them.

Can you give us a short description of your city? Where is it located? What is it famous for? I photographed my hometown: Smolensk and Smolensk Oblast. Smolensk is a provincial city located 400 km west of Moscow. It is not large, just a bit more than 300,000 residents. Smolensk is a keystone city: for its more than 1000-year history it has stood on the path of armies seeking to sieze Moscow. The Polish-Lithuanian state, Napoleonic France, the Second World War... more than once Smolensk was beseiged and destroyed, but to this day its courage and perserverence are a source of pride to every Smolenskers. Smolensk is a Hero-City, a place of beauty and hard work. Smolensk Oblast is the homeland of the composer Mikhail Glinka, the writer Isaac Asimov and the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.  

What are some things that only locals would know about the city? Many believe that Smolensk Oblast is the site of many hidden treasures. The most famous is Napoleon's Treasure. According to legend, after his 1812 retreat from Moscow, Napoleon's army tossed the treasures they stole when they occupied the Russian capital into Semlyovsky Lake in Vyazemsky Region. During the Second World War, in conditions of extreme secrecy, not far from Smolensk the German army created an underground complex called Berenhalle, which had a bunker for Hitler. To this day the rumor of a secret Hitler Bunker (and the treasures hidden there) persists. To this day, treasure hunters are looking for valuables that Count Sheremetyev hid in his estate in Smolensk Oblast, when he hastily fled the country in 1917.

Which places or sites are a must for someone to see if they visit your city? One of the city's main sites is the Smolensk Fortress Wall. It as built in the sixteenth century for the city's defense, and has survived to the present day. You can climb up on one of its towers and see a panorama of Smolensk, and thereby prove for yourself if one of the many city legends about the ghosts of the fortress wall are true. According to one story, one of those ghosts is that of a beautiful young woman, buried in one of the towers when the fortress was being built. Reputedly, her laugh can be heard to this day, and thus the tower is named Veselukha (little happy one).

Old churches have been preserved in the city, for example the Church of Peter and Paul and Svirsky Church, built in the twelfth century. On Cathedral Hill the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary rises up. It was built in the seventeenth century.

Take a walk through the historical center: here architecture from the nineteenth century sits peacefully alongside that of ancient monasteries.

And, in order to bring you good luck, I recommend you visit the bronze deer in Blonya Park and stroke his private parts. Judging by how they shine, both guests and residents of the city have been very lucky indeed.

One of the world's largest enterprises for cutting diamonds is in Smolensk, the Kristall Factory. There is also the distillery Bakhus. Thus, one could, as a souvenir, pick up some diamonds or the famous Smolensky Balsam.

Instagram: @irina.f.novikova



Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
Russia Rules

Russia Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955