The ancient city of Vitebsk
Vitebsk is one of the oldest towns in Belarus. An exact date of its beginning hasn't been agreed yet. The first mention about it belongs to the 12th century in connection with a war between the Kiev, and the Polotsk Principalities. The prince of Kiev, Yaroslov Mudry gave the town on the Vitsba River to the Prince of Polotsk Bryacheslav. Vitebsk arose as a fortressr defence against of external enemies. It was built on the high bank of the Western Dvina River, where the Vitsba and the Luches Rivers flow into it. Vitebsk often opposed invasions of conquerors, because it had the advantageous geographical position. Its fortifications were formed from the Upper Castle (the 13th century) and the Lower Castle (the 14th century). At the end of the 16th -- the beginning of the 17th centuries Vzgorskiy Castle was also erected as a fortification. In 1320 the Vitebsk Principality was included into the structure of Lithuania. Vitebsk regiments took part in the route of the Tevton Order under Grunvald.
At the beginning of the 18th century, during the Northern War of Sweden against Russia and Poland, Vitebsk was burnt down almost completely.
Blagoveshchenskaya Church was built at the end of the 12th century. It is situated in the territory of the former Lower Castle. The former palace of the governor (end of the 18th century) was the residence of all governors of Vitebsk Province. In 1812 Napoleon stayed here. A monument was built near the palace. It was devoted to the victory of the Russian people in the Patriotic War in 1812. Kazanskaya Church was built in 1760. It is on the right bank of the Western Dvina River.
Today Vitebsk is a large industrial town in Belarus. Machine-building, production of construction materials the food and the light industries, production of TV sets are main branches in Vitebsk. Highly qualified specialists are trained in the pedagogical, medical, veterinary, technological and other institutes.