The city is located 300 kilometers away from Minsk. Railways connect it with Mosty, Bialystok (Poland) and Vilnius (Lithuania), and motorway link the city with Minsk, Kaunas (Lithuania) and Lida.
Grodno was first mentioned in historic papers in 1116 as a fortress founded on the bank of the river Neman
to control merchant vessels. In the 13th century the city became part of the Great Principality of Lithuania.
In 1284 the city was seized by crusaders, later it was many times attacked by Teutonic Knights.
In 1413 representatives of Poland and the Great Principality of Lithuania signed here a Union Document.
In the 15th century Grodno turned became one of Belarus’ major crafts centers. In 1496 the city was granted Magdebourg right, and in the 16th century it turned into the residence of Lithuanian princes. Later the city hosted the residence of Polish kings.
The Lithuanian Chapel, one of the first orchestras in Belarus, was founded in Grodno in 1543. In 1591 there opened a printing house that started to issue books in the Belarusian language. The famous Tizengauz theatre opened in Grodno in 1769. However it was closed 11 years later. And the first public library opened in Grodno in 1854.
Several industrial enterprises opened in Grodno in the 18th century, including a cloth-making factory. There also opened a medical school.
The last session of Rzech Pospolita took place in Grodno in 1793. Two years later the city became part of the Russian Empire.
During the Patriotic War of 1812 Grodno was occupied by Napoleon’s army, and during WWI the city was seized by German troops. And in the years of the Great Patriotic War fascists founded here a death camp and killed over 18 thousand POWs and civilians.
On September 20, 1944, Grodno became the center of Grodno Region.
Despite the complicated history and lots of military actions the city managed to preserve much of its ancient architecture.
The most remarkable masterpieces of architecture include the fortress, the Lower Church and St Boris and Gleb’s Church
(Old Slavic architecture), the Bernardine cathedral
, the Bernardine monastery and the Old Castle (Gothic architecture and Renaissance), three monasteries with cathedrals (Baroque), residence of vice-governor (Classicism), Lutheran Church (pseudo-Gothics), the military cathedral (pseudo-Russian architecture), Talgeim’s house (modernism), officers’ home (constructivism), etc.
Today Grodno Region hosts representatives of over 80 nationalities. The largest ethnic groups are the Polish, the Russians, the Ukrainians and the Lithuanians. There are two dozen ethnic associations, Polish and Lithuanian schools and lots of ethnic amateur music bands in Grodno.
The city is host to the biannual festival of national cultures
that takes place in early July. The festival offers a perfect chance to taste the cuisine of various nations, learn about the crafts, culture and traditions of different ethnic groups. The feast usually ends with fireworks, a fountain show and an all-night-long concert.
There are five hotels
in Grodno (Tourist, Belarus, Grodno, Omega and Semashko), around 50 restaurants, bars and cafes, 11 night clubs and disco clubs, five cinemas, an aquapark, a casino, eightm useums, a zoo and an entertainment park.
The regional tourist center (2, Telegraphnaya Street, tel. (0152)-72-24-86, 72-07-73) rents tents, sleeping bags, life vests, mats, tripods, rucksacks. The center has a hostel that can accommodate 45 tourists.
Those interested in water tourism and canoes can rent the necessary equipment at tourfirms
of Grodno, such as: Grodnotourist, Kolyada-Tour, Svyatovit.
In summertime Grodno steamship company organises cruises down the river Neman to Avgustovski Channel on board O. Solomova steamship that can take up to 100 passengers (tel. (0152)-52-13-42).
Initially, it had been an all-wooden fort until in the 13th century they would add a powerful stone tower, similar to the Tower of Kameniets.
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