History in Smolensk Oblast is interweaved with the present, a constant reminder of past centuries. The famous Gnyozdovo Archaeological Center, ancient Orthodox churches and monasteries, pilgrimage sites and noble estates can all be found in this region and have retained their charm and attraction. The Smolensk Fortress, the Vyazma Kremlin, the beauty of the Smolenskoye Poozerye National Park, the Gagarin Memorial Museum should be seen by everyone.
Being on the western border of the country, halfway between Minsk and Moscow, Oblast has often served as a shield against attacks on the capital; the area has witnessed many wars that have left monuments to its heroic defense and defenders.
This is where the Dnieper River and its tributaries Desna and Sozh originate. The region's large Ugra and Vazuza rivers flow into the Volga. Oblast is home to several hundred lakes. The forests are interspersed by open spaces on hills and in river valleys creating a uniquely captivating landscape.
You will find something interesting in every corner of Smolensk Oblast, but most tourists are invariably attracted to the region's capital—Smolensk. The fearsome towers of the grand castle complement the hilly landscape, while the golden domes of the Assumption Cathedral, with its uniquely beautiful internal decoration, can be seen from almost everywhere. The landscape is supplemented by preserved 17th century churches.
Smolensk is a city with beautiful squares and alleys, generously filled with historic sites, partly preserved and partly restored merchant and noble buildings, modern ensembles and streets.
Many famous people were born in Smolensk Oblast: the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin; the Soviet film stars Yuri Nikulin, Anatoli Papanov, Lyudmila Kasatkina, and Nadezhda Rumyantseva; the founder of Russian classical music Mikhail Glinka; the writer Alexander Belyaev; the poets Alexander Tarkovsky, Mikhail Isakovsky and Nikolai Rylenkov; the explorer Nikolay Przhevalsky and Admiral Pavel Nakhimov. Memorial museum houses located in different parts of the region are very popular.
Travelers are attracted by the beauty of the Smolenskoye Poozerye (Smolensk Lakes) National Park that is home to environmentally pristine picturesque lakes of glacial origin, rare species of plants, and many animals and birds. Walking along the forest paths around the lakes will put you in a good mood and give you strength. There is plenty to do here for lovers of outdoor activities: you can travel along the rivers and lakes or go on a horse ride.
Many visitors want to see the ancient Russian town of Vyazma—the home of the famous honey cake. This is still made here by hand to old recipes using special boards. This famous cake is so good that it was served to the royal table in the Middle Ages.
Cultural-historic and military-patriotic tourism is especially popular in Oblast. The region hosts various festivals that attract visitors every year. You can discover the area's arts and crafts and traditions by visiting the museums of local artisans.