One day in Smolensk: what to see and where to eat
Located on the way from Moscow to Belarus and further to Europe, Smolensk deserves a separate trip - or at least a stop for a few hours. What to see in the city, hardened by historical events, about what epochs to remember, where to go on a tour? Where to walk and eat, if you were here passing? Kirill Sidorov, author of Business Traveler magazine, tells how to spend one day in Smolensk.
Smolensk fortress wall
Arriving in Smolensk, the first thing is to go to the fortress wall, which the locals usually call the Kremlin. With it you need to start the tour - this is the main symbol of the city. The building was built at the very beginning of the 17th century, in the Time of Troubles, when Smolensk was subjected to numerous attacks from the west. Six and a half kilometers of walls with 38 towers were erected quickly: Boris Godunov, by all means wanting to isolate himself from his belligerent neighbors, by his decree forbade the construction of anything else in the city until the wall was ready.
The first to defend her defensive qualities were the Poles. In spite of the fact that practically the whole Smolensk surrounded the fortification, and a moat was dug under the wall, the Polish invaders managed to take the city. True, after a grueling siege. Less fortunate were the Swedes, led by Charles XII, who almost got captured here. The following were the French in 1812, but the most severe tests fell on the fortress and the whole city during the Great Patriotic War. By the way, the towers allowed to fight from three tiers: lower, middle and upper. Now only 17 towers are left in a more or less combat condition.
st. Cathedral yard, 5
The temple stands on the Cathedral Mount and defines the silhouette of the city: lost tourists are usually guided by it, as the cathedral is visible from almost anywhere in Smolensk. Climb to the top of the mountain to the Assumption Cathedral on the stairs, which is also a rarity, since it was made in 1767. As for the temple itself, it was erected in memory of the heroes who died during the defense of the city in 1609-1611 (at the hands of those very Poles).
Inside, willy-nilly, the gigantic iconostasis of 31 m high, made in the Baroque style with Ukrainian motifs, attracts attention. For believers, an additional incentive to visit can be a relic stored here - the shroud of the times of Ivan the Terrible. The rest is necessary to be here at least for the sake of a magnificent view of the sights and the old quarter.
Bolshaya Sovetskaya Street
The main city artery, where you get down from the Cathedral Hill. The street rises steeply from the Dnieper, and the most desperate segment in terms of physical education is right next to the cathedral. Walking along it, you need to actively turn your head: elegant mansions are concentrated here, in the past apartment houses. If you look over people and cars, you get a pleasant somnambulistic feeling of being lost in time: the Trinity Highway (the historical name of the street) was laid by Peter I at the beginning of the XVIII century. However, most of the houses are a remake that was carefully restored from pre-war photographs: during the war the center of the city was destroyed. The only remaining original building is the mansion of merchant Pavlov of the end of the XIX century, in which the “House of the Book” is located (Bolshaya Sovetskaya, 12).
Between the streets of Glinka and the October Revolution
A favorite meeting place and recreation for local residents was built on the former parade ground in 1830. What is characteristic, without the participation of the French, as you might think, hearing the name. According to the philologists who studied the question, “Blonie” is a word of Russian origin, meaning “open space”.
The garden was famous for two things: sculptures and old trees. First, in 1885, a monument to the composer MI appeared here. Glinka, and after the end of World War II in the park wound up a bronze trophy deer, grated in some places to shine. Obligatory point of the excursion program of any self-respecting tourist is to saddle the animal and check whether it fulfills desires.
As for the trees, there was a discrepancy here ... A couple of years ago, by order of the authorities, they were sawed down. Another attraction of the park is the fountain of light and music, a source of little things for the surrounding boys in the summer season.
st. Glinka, 4
“Going to Edik” means “sign” in the slang of the locals. In the house of the chamber junker Alexander Platonovich Engelhardt, who once held the post of city mayor, is the Palace of Marriages. This exquisite mansion is one of the best examples of baroque in Smolensk and, perhaps, in the whole region.
The building was built in 1878 by eminent architect Julian Konoplyansky. Rich stucco and lush decoration markedly distinguish it from the surrounding houses. Inside, first of all you find yourself in a large lobby with a revived echo, on the right is a pompous light room with lots of windows, on the left is a cozy winter garden. So you will love and you will not even notice how you will leave the building with a ring on your ring finger.
Russian Vodka Museum
st. Student, 4
This place is from an optional program, but as an aperitif or in bad weather - the most it! Moreover, it is not necessary to go far from the city center: the museum is part of the Smolensk Fortress exhibition complex. You can book a tour, and it is better to quickly run through the exposure individually. Examine the stages of the establishment of a distillery business in Russia, find out that by the beginning of the twentieth century there were 72 alcohol factories in Smolensk, and immediately forget this information, consider all sorts of packaging - from "merzavchik" to "quarter" - and drinking ware, as well as public documents struggle for sobriety and finally proceed to the main part of the event - tasting. The Smolensk Fortress restaurant-club, located right there, offers a wide assortment of samples of alcoholic beverage products of the company’s founder. The main thing is to stop in time.
st. Lenin, 8a
After tasting it is worth visiting the oldest secular building of the city - the smithy. In sober form, it will be much more difficult to find its location, since a typical urban courtyard has been built around it.
A neat tiled house appeared at the end of the 17th century. When the Poles fueled Smolensk, there was a city archive here. After the liberation of the city in 1785, the building was transferred to the Engineering House, which identified it as a forge. The building was saved from demolition by the fact that in the 70s it was recognized as an architectural monument, after which a blacksmith's museum was opened here.
Looking at the anvil, fur and other tools, as well as products made with their help, including edged weapons, imperceptibly imbue with respect for this brutal craft and implicitly try on the role of a blacksmith.
Where to eat in Smolensk: cafes and restaurants
You can eat in Smolensk in one of the inexpensive but pleasant cafes. Locals welcome several establishments: for example, the network pizzeria Domino, Mandarin Goose, Pie Shop, Sprat. In addition to the unique and modern interiors, here you will be offered tasty, varied food for modest money, quality service.
If you want to arrange a detailed dinner without haste and fast food, you should book a table in the "Manor" institution (st. Bakunin, 2v). The restaurant is located in the very center of the city, but the relaxed atmosphere inside evokes a feeling of country life. The menu is mainly represented by Russian dishes and reads like a novel. In warm weather it is best to sit with a glass of wine on the summer terrace. You can ask for a blanket.
And in the garden Blonie open three-story institution "Russian yard". As the name implies, the cafe is decorated in a patriotic style: “here the doors are always wide open, and Russian songs are played”. If you are not confused by the strongly dominant “a la russe” design, you can have a good meal in a cafe, for example, pancakes with various fillings, fried meat and potatoes, boyar borsch, and drink all this beauty with kvass or mead.
18 km south of Smolensk is located the village of Talashkino, which has the status of a historical and artistic reserve. Previously, here was the estate of Princess Maria Tenisheva, which is famous for its charity. On the outskirts of the estate, Flenovo farm was equipped with it, where peasant children were taught to read and write. In general, the main goal of her life was the revival of the peasant art craft. In this regard, in the village, like mushrooms after rain, numerous training and art workshops have appeared. From 1893 to 1914, Talashkino was a competitor of Abramtsev in terms of artistic life, many sculptors, artists and other bohemians stayed here.