According to Acronymmonster, Smolensk is located in the west of the central part of Russia, 419 km from Moscow. The city stands on the banks of the Dnieper River within the Smolensk-Moscow Upland. The landscape of Smolensk is hilly, the height difference reaches 90 m.
The city was formed at the intersection of important trade routes – “from the Varangians to the Greeks” (from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea) and on the way from Europe to the Volga region and further to Asia. The first mention of it dates back to 863. Initially , Smolensk belonged to the Krivichi and was a major trade and craft center. In 882, Prince Oleg conquered it and annexed it to Kievan Rus. In the 12th century Smolensk became the capital of the independent Smolensk principality. The period from the 12th to the 15th century was the heyday of the city. In 1101, under Vladimir Monomakh, the first church was founded here, and by the 13th century there were 5 monasteries and more than 35 stone churches in the city. Since 1404, Smolensk was part of the Lithuanian principality, at the beginning of the 16th century it was annexed to the Muscovite state. The city became the most important outpost on the western approaches to Moscow. At the end of the 16th century, the construction of a stone Kremlin began on the territory of the former wooden fortifications. In 1609-1611, Smolensk was besieged by the troops of the Commonwealth. The Poles captured the city, and in 1611 the Smolensk Episcopate of the Catholic Church was founded here. In 1667 Smolensk was conquered and again became part of Russia. At the end of the Northern War, the city ceased to be a border point and received the status of a provincial city. In 1812, in the vicinity of Smolensk, Russian troops dealt a crushing blow to the troops of Napoleon, however, during this year Smolensk burned 2 times and was significantly destroyed. From 1941 to 1943, fierce battles took place near Smolensk. The battles at Smolensk halted the German advance on Moscow, but the city was once again badly damaged. In 1985, for the heroic resistance of the army of Nazi Germany, Smolensk received the title of Hero City.
The Dnieper River divides Smolensk into two parts. The southern part of it is the historical center of the city, where the main attractions are concentrated. Most of them are located inside the fortress wall, the remains of which have survived to this day. In ancient times, the wall surrounded the Smolensk Kremlin. Today, on the site of its ancient buildings, streets are laid and there are residential buildings and modern buildings. The construction of the Kremlin began at the end of the 16th century and ended in 1602. The work was carried out under the guidance of the famous Russian architect Fyodor Savelyevich Kon. At the time of construction, Boris Godunov issued a decree banning any stone construction in the state, which confirms the special significance of the Smolensk Kremlin for Russia. The fortress wall had a three-tier battle system and was surrounded by defensive ditches and ramparts. To this day, sections of earthen ramparts of those times have been preserved. The total length of the fortress wall was 6.5 km, thickness – from 4 to 6 m, height with battlements – up to 16 m. Today, fragments of the wall remain in the city.
Initially, the Smolensk Kremlin had 38 towers, 17 of them have survived to this day. These are the towers – Pyatnitskaya, Volkova, Kostyrevskaya, Veselukha, Poznyakova, Orel, Avraamievskaya, Belukha, Voronina, Shembelevka, Zimbulka, Nikolskaya, Makhovaya, Donets, Gromovaya, Bubleika and Kopytinskaya. The eastern section of the fortress wall with the towers of Veselukha, Pozdnyakova, Orel, Avraamievskaya, Belukha, Voronina, Shembelevka, Zimbulka and Nikolskaya is best preserved. Also, half of the southwestern wall with the towers Makhovaya, Donets, Gromovaya, Bubleika and Kopytinskaya has been preserved. Of the towers of the Smolensk Kremlin, the most popular today is the Thunder Tower. This is a four-tiered multifaceted tower, which now houses a branch of the Smolensk Museum-Reserve – the museum “Smolensk – the shield of Russia”. The exposition of the museum presents exhibits dedicated to the military history of Smolensk – samples of weapons and armor of soldiers, the history of the construction of the fortress and the medieval history of Smolensk. The southwestern section of the fortress wall ends with the ramparts of the Royal Bastion, which was built in the first half of the 17th century by the Poles on the site of three blown up towers. In 1912, a monument to the soldiers and officers of the Sofia regiment, who heroically distinguished themselves in the battle of Smolensk and the battle of Borodino, was erected on the earthen rampart of the Royal Bastion.