Ermak Travel Guide

 

Vyazma

Vyazma

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

Interesting information and useful tips

 

Description of Vyazma

Vyazma is a city in Russia, the administrative center of the Vyazemsky district, located in the east of the Smolensk region. Population - 52 506 people. (2018). The city is located on the Vyazma River, 175 km from Smolensk and 210 km from Moscow, on the Vyazma hill, in an area where the river drastically changes its direction of flow from the south to the north-west. It is the junction railway station Vyazma on the lines Moscow - Brest and Torzhok - Bryansk. The city is located on the Old Smolensk Road, which has long connected Moscow with European regions.

On April 27, 2009, by the decree of the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, the city of Vyazma was awarded the honorary title of the Russian Federation “City of Military Glory”.

The birthday of the city is traditionally celebrated on the Orthodox holiday of the Holy Trinity.

 

 

 

History of Vyazma

Vyazma was first mentioned in a chronicle under the year of 1230, although it is believed to be much older than that. The town was named after the river, whose name was from Russian word "вязь" (vyaz'), meaning "bog" or "swamp". At the time, the town belonged to a lateral branch of the Rurikid House of Smolensk, and carried on a lively trade with Narva on the Gulf of Finland. In 1403, the local princes were expelled by Lithuanians to Moscow, where they took the name of Princes Vyazemsky. The most notable among them were Pyotr Vyazemsky, an intimate friend of the poet Alexander Pushkin and a poet himself, and Sophie Viazemski, a French writer, for a time married to Jean-Luc Godard.

In 1494, Vyazma was captured by the Grand Duchy of Moscow and turned into a fortress, of which but a single tower remains. Two important abbeys were embellished with stone churches, including a rare three-tented church dedicated to Our Lady of Smolensk (Hodegetria) and consecrated in 1638 after Polish occupation between 1611 and 1634. A barbican church of the same abbey dates back to 1656, and the town's cathedral was completed by 1676. Other churches are designed mostly in baroque style.

During the French invasion (and their European allies) of Russia in 1812, there was a battle between the retreating French army (up to 37,000 troops) and the Russian army (25,000 men) near Vyazma on October 22, 1812. The vanguard of the Russian army under the command of Lieutenant General Mikhail Miloradovich and a Cossack unit of General Matvey Platov attacked the rearguard corps of Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout east of Vyazma and cut off his retreat. Owing to the intervention of Eugène de Beauharnais and Józef Poniatowski, Davout managed to break through the Russian army's encirclement.

However, the French army's attempts to hold the heights near Vyazma and the town itself were unsuccessful. By the evening of October 22, Russians seized Vyazma, which had been set on fire by the French. The French lost 6,000 men during the battle; 2,500 soldiers were taken prisoners. The Russians lost around 2,000 men.

In 1941, during World War II, Vyazma was the scene of a battle of encirclement. Red Army units were trapped in the town after it was surrounded by the German Third and Fourth Panzer armies. Vyazma was occupied by German forces between 7 October 1941 and 12 March 1943. In October 1941, 11 Jews were shot in the town and two were hanged. In December 1941, 117 Jews were killed in a mass execution perpetrated by the Einsatzgruppe B.

The town was heavily damaged in the fighting, then rebuilt after the war. U.S. journalist Quentin Reynolds, of Collier's Weekly, visited Vyazma shortly after the German withdrawal in 1943 and gave an account of the destruction in his book The Curtain Rises (1944), in which he stated that the town's population was reduced from 60,000 to 716, with only three buildings remaining. The Nazis also established two concentration camps in the town, Dulag 184 and Dulag 230. About 80,000 people died there and were buried in mass graves. The victims included Jews, political officers, and POWs.

 

 

 


 

Transportation

 

 

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

 

 

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

 

 

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

 

 

Interesting information and useful tips

 

 

 

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