official_name = Гродна/Hrodna
other_name = Гродно/Grodno
imagesize = 250px
map_caption = Location of Hrodna, shown within the Hrodna Voblast
subdivision_type = Country Subdivision
established_title = Founded
established_date = 1128 (1127)
population_as_of = 2008
population_total = 325,164
timezone = EET
utc_offset = +2
timezone_DST = EEST
utc_offset_DST = +3
postal_code = 212000
area_code = +375-15
blank_name = License plate
blank_info = 4
website = [http://www.region.grodno.by www.region.grodno.by]
Hrodna or Grodno ( _be. Гро́дна, IPA2|'ɣrodna; _ru. Гродно, _pl. Grodno, _la. Grodna; _lt. Gardinas), is a city in
Belarus. It is located on the Neman River(Нёман), close to the borders of Polandand Lithuania(about 20 km and 30 km away respectively). It has 325,164 inhabitants (2008 estimate). It is the capital of Hrodna voblastand Hrodna raion.
The modern city of Hrodna originated as a small fortress and a fortified trading outpost maintained by the
Rurikid princes on the border with the lands of the Baltic tribal union Yotvingians. Its name derives from the Old East Slavicverb "gorodit"', i.e., "to enclose, to fence" (see "grad" for details).
Mentioned in the
Primary Chronicleunder 1127 as "Goroden"' and located at a crossing of numerous trading routes, this Slavic settlement, possibly originating as far as the late 10th century, became the capital of a poorly attested but separate principality, ruled by Yaroslav the Wise's grandson and his descendants.
Navahrudak, Hrodna was regarded as the main city on the far west of Black Ruthenia, a border region that was neighbouring the original Duchy of Lithuania. It was often attacked by various invaders, especially the Teutonic Knights. In the 1250s the Hrodna area was overrun by the pagan Lithuanians, who later formed the Grand Duchy of Lithuaniaon these territories. The famous Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautaswas the prince of Hrodna from 1376 to 1392, and he stayed there during his preparations for the Battle of Grunwald(1410). Since 1413, Hrodna had been the administrative center of a powiatin Trakai Voivodeship.
To aid the reconstruction of trade and commerce, the grand dukes allowed the creation of a
Jewish commune in 1389. It was one of the first Jewish communities in the grand duchy. In 1441 the city received its charter, based on the Magdeburg Law. After the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Hrodna became the capital of the short-lived Grodno Voivodeshipin 1793.
An important centre of trade, commerce, and culture, Hrodna remained one of the places where the
Sejms were held. Also, the Old and New Castles were often visited by the Commonwealth monarchs. In 1793 the last Sejm in the history of the Commonwealth occurred at Hrodna. Two years afterwards, in 1795, Russia obtained the city in the Third Partition of Poland. It was in the New Castle on November 25 of that year that the last Polish king and Lithuanian grand duke Stanisław August Poniatowskiabdicated. In the Russian Empire, the city continued to serve its role as a seat of Grodno Governoratesince 1801. The industrial activities, started in the late 18th century by Antoni Tyzenhaus, continued to develop.
After the outbreak of World War I, Hrodna was occupied by Germany (1915) and ceded by
Bolshevist Russiaunder the Treaty of Brest-Litovskin 1918. After the war the German government permitted a short-lived state to be set up there, the first one with a "Belarusian" name - the Belarusian National Republic. This declared its independence from Russia in March 1918 in Minsk("Mensk"), but then the BNR's "Rada" (Council) had to leave Minsk and fled to Hrodna. All this time the military authority in the city remained in German hands.
After the outbreak of the
Polish-Bolshevik War, the German commanders of the Ober Ostfeared that the city might fall to Soviet Russia, so on April 27, 1919 they passed authority to Poland. The city was seized by the Polish Armythe following day and Polish administration was established in the city. The city was lost to the Red Armyon July 19, 1920 because of the Kiev Offensive. The city was also claimed by Lithuanian government, who were promised during the July 12, 1920 talks in Moscow that it would be transferred to Lithuania. However, Soviet defeat in the Battle of Warsaw made these plans obsolete, and Lithuanian authority was never established in the city. Instead, the Red Army organised its last stand in the city and the Battle of Nemantook place there. On September 23 the Polish Army recaptured the city. After the Peace Treaty of Riga, Hrodna remained in Poland.
Initially, prosperity was reduced due to the fact that the city remained only the capital of a powiat, while the capital of the
voivodshipwas moved to Białystok. However, in the late 1920s the city became one of the biggest Polish Army garrisons. This brought the local economy back on track. Also, the city was a notable centre of Jewish culture, with roughly 37% of the city's population being Jewish. The Belarusian languagewas forbidden by the Polish authorities and Belarusian schools were closed down.
During the Polish Defensive War of 1939 the garrison of Hrodna was mostly used for the creation of numerous military units fighting against the invading
Wehrmacht. In the course of the Soviet invasion of Poland initiated on September 17, there was heavy fighting in the city between Soviet and improvised Polish forces, composed mostly of march battalions and volunteers. In the course of the Battle of Grodno (September 20–September 22), the Red Army lost some hundred men (by the Polish sources; by the Soviet sources - 57 killed and 159 wounded) and also 19 tanks and 4 APCs destroyed or damaged. The Polish side suffered at least 100 killed in action, military and civil, but losses still remain uncertain in detail (Soviet sources claim 644 killed and 1543 captives with many guns and machine guns etc. captured). Many more were shot in mass executions after being imprisoned. After the engaged Polish units were surrounded, the remaining units withdrew to Lithuania. In accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pactthe city was transferred to the Belarusian SSRof the Soviet Union, and several thousand of the city's Polish inhabitants were deported to remote areas of the Soviet Union. In 1941, the city came under German occupation, which lasted until July 1944. In the course of the World War II, the majority of Hrodna's remaining Jews were exterminated in German concentration camps. City was renamed by Germans as Garten (meaning "garden") in 1942.
Since 1945 the city has been a centre of one of provinces of the
Belarusian SSR, now of the independent Republic of Belarus.
The city has one of the largest concentrations of
Roman Catholicsin Belarus. It is also a center of Polish culture, with the considerable number of Poles living in Belarus, residing in the city and its surroundings.Though the orthodox population is also widely present here.
This city is known for its very important Medical University, where many students from different parts of Belarus acquire an academic degree, as do a good number of foreign students as well.Other higher educational establishments are Yanka Kupala State University (the largest regional education center in Hrodna Region) and Agricultural university.
The town was scored to be dominated by the Old Castle, first built in stone by Grand Duke
Vytautasand thoroughly rebuilt in the Renaissancestyle by Scotto from Parma at the behest of Stefan Batory, who made the castle his principal residence. Batory died at this palace seven years later and was interred in Hrodna. After his death, the castle was altered on numerous occasions, although a 17th-century stone arch bridge linking it with the city still survives. The Saxon monarchs of Poland were dissatisfied with the old residence and commissioned Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmannto design the New Castle, whose once sumptuous Baroque interiors were destroyed during the World War II.
The oldest extant structure in Hrodna is the "Kolozha" church of Sts. Boris and Gleb (Belarusian: "Kalozhskaya"). It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall. The church is a cross-domed building supported by six circular pillars. The outside is articulated with projecting pilasters, which have rounded corners, as does the building itself. The ante-nave contains the choir loft, accessed by a narrow gradatory in the western wall. Two other stairs were discovered in the walls of the side apses; their purpose is not clear. The floor is lined with ceramic tiles forming decorative patterns. The interior was lined with innumerable built-in pitchers, which usually serve in Eastern Orthodox churches as resonators but in this case were scored to produce decorative effects. For this reason, the central nave has never been painted.
The church was built before 1183 and survived intact until 1853, when the south wall collapsed, due to its perilous location on the high bank of the Neman. During restoration works, some fragments of 12th-century frescoes were discovered in the apses. Remains of four other churches in the same style, decorated with pitchers and coloured stones instead of frescoes, were discovered in Hrodna and
Vaŭkavysk. They all date back to the turn of the 13th century, as do remains of the first stone palace in the Old Castle.
Probably the most spectacular landmark of Hrodna is the Cathedral of St.
Francis Xavier, the former (until 1773) Jesuitchurch on Batory Square(now: SovietSquare). This confident specimen of high Baroque architecture, exceeding 50 metres in height, was started in 1678. Due to wars that rocked Poland-Lithuania at that time, the cathedral was consecrated only 27 years later, in the presence of Peter the Greatand Augustus the Strong. Its late Baroque frescoes were executed in 1752.
The extensive grounds of the Bernardine monastery (1602-18), renovated in 1680 and 1738, display all the styles flourishing in the 17th century, from Gothic to Baroque. The interior is considered a masterpiece of so-called
VilniusBaroque. Other monastic establishments include the old Franciscan cloister (1635), Basilian convent (1720-51, by Giuseppe Fontana III), the church of the Bridgettine cloister (1642, one of the earliest Baroque buildings in the region) with the wooden two-storey dormitory (1630s) still standing on the grounds, and the 18th-century buildings of the Dominican monastery (its cathedral was demolished in 1874).
Among other sights in Hrodna and its environs, we should mention the Orthodox cathedral, a polychrome
Russian Revivalextravaganza from 1904; the botanical garden, the first in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, founded in 1774; a curiously curved building on the central square (1780s); a 254-metre-high TV tower (1984); and Stanisławów, a summer residence of the last Polish king.
Olga Korbutwho won gold medals in gymnastics at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics.
Eitan Livni, Israeli politician, Irgun activist and father of Tzipi Livni.
Battle of Grodno (1939)
Disputed territories of Baltic States
List of early East Slavic states
* [http://forum.grodno.net/ forum.grodno.net] - Grodno Forum
* [http://foto.grodno.net/ Photo Grodno] - Grodno photo blog
* [http://old.grodno.net/ Old Photos of Grodno] - Old Photos of Grodno
* [http://flashmob.grodno.by/ Flashmob Grodno]
* [http://e-grodno.com Grodno yellow pages (in russian)]
* [http://txt.knihi.com/hierb/horad.gifCoat of Arms]
* [http://radzima.org/pub/miesta.php?lang=en&miesta_id1=hrhrhora Photos on Radzima.org]
* [http://vgrodno.com/ v Grodno]
* [http://www.hrodna.by/html/index.shtml Hrodna online - regional info portal]
* [http://www.grodnoonline.com/index.html History of the Jewish community in Hrodna]
* [http://www1.yadvashem.org/about_holocaust/lost_worlds/grodno/grodno_history_and_geography.html Lost Jewish Worlds - Grodno] at
* [http://www.visitgrodno.narod.ru Sights of Grodno]
* [http://www.JewishGrodno.com JewishGrodno.com - The Jewish Community of Grodno of Today]
* [http://www.fjc.ru/grodno Grodno in the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS site]
* [http://www.grodno.biz/ Grodno.biz - Grodno regional information and business project]
* [http://grodno.the.by/ Weather Grodno]
* [http://harodnia.com/ Harodnia.com - News about Modern destructions of Old architecture, photos]
* [http://hrodna.belarda.org/ Hrodna.belarda.org - Hrodna regional information]
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