The exact day of the city’s founding is unknown, the first record of Minsk dates back to 1067 in connection with intestine wars of the Russian princes. That was the year, when Minsk was burnt down by the Kievan prince Iziaslav and his allies’ troops.
From the beginning of the 14th century Minsk as one of the towns of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was gradually becoming a large trading and artisan center. In 1499 Minsk was granted the Magdeburg Law, the right of autonomous administration of medieval towns. The town suffered greatly during the Russian-Polish War (1657–1667). In 1793 Minsk became a part of Russia, the center of the Minsk Guberniya. It was destroyed again in 1812 during the Napoleon invasion of Russia.
In the middle of the 19th century the town grew into a large industrial and transport center. In the course of the World War I (1914–1918), the revolution of 1917 and the subsequent civil war, the power was changed repeatedly: Soviet, German and Polish troops entered and left the city again and again. On January 1, 1919 Minsk became the capital of the BSSR, in 1922 the Republic became a part of the Soviet Union. Wars and foreign intervention caused great losses to the industrial and social infrastructure of the city. However the city’s political, social and industrial development was given a new stimulus the following years. Minsk became the capital of one of the USSR republics, the center of the region and district.
In 1921 Belarusian State University and the first Belarusian scientific library were opened. In 1928 the Academy of Sciences of the BSSR was inaugurated. In 1922 the state and university libraries were created at the University. Today it’s the National library, the largest book-depository in the Republic. In 1929 the first tramline was put into operation, the bus service was established a little earlier. In 1934 an airport was constructed.
On the very first days of the Nazi invasion of the USSR in June of 1941 Minsk suffered greatly from the raids of German aviation. In spite of stubborn resistance of Red Army the city was captured on the sixth day of war.
Despite the occupants’ terror, the patriotic underground was active in the city. Minsk was liberated by Soviet troops July 3, 1944. Now this day is celebrated as the Independence Day of the Republic of Belarus. In 1974 Minsk was granted the honorary status of City-Hero in recognition of its citizens’ contribution to the victory over Nazism.
Since 1991 Minsk has been the capital of the Republic of Belarus and the center of the region and district of the same name. It is situated on the Minsk Hills (Upland) on both banks of the river Svisloch. The city’s area accounts for 256 thousand kilometers. The population is about 2 million people.
Situated on the crossing of the strategic routes from West to East and from North to South, from Moscow to Warsaw and from Kiev to Vilnius, Minsk is a large transport hub with several bus terminals, a railway station, two airports (1 international) and a metro network.