History of the Old Smolensk road

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History of the Old Smolensk road
History of the Old Smolensk road

All roads have a beginning and an end. Only not about everyone it is known for certain where these points are located. It is known about the Old Smolensk road.

It starts from the Moscow Kremlin, from the Trinity Tower, as it should be on the Russian road, and ends at the border with Belarus. There, 20 kilometers from the village of Krasny, is the “zero mile”.

The appearance of the road

It is difficult to name the date of its occurrence, but it should already have been in the 14th century. According to the surviving documents, scientists concluded that at that time there was a close relationship, primarily trade, between Moscow, Smolensk and Orsha. So there was a road.

At first it was land-water, and then only land and "straight". And they called it in the documents of that time the Big Smolenskaya or Posolskaya, and sometimes the Big Main Hotel (from the word "guest").

Traveling along it at that time was almost a feat, for foreigners it was completely impossible. The writer I. S. Sokolov-Mikitov describes their impressions: “The path was hard. The endless forest is full of wild animals. Muscovite men are terrible. Terrible is the road, which, in order not to drown in the swamp, the Russian people coverlog log.”

old smolensk road
old smolensk road

But, apparently, the need was strong, if the guests were still traveling along that road to the Moscow Kremlin.

Post business in the Smolensk region

All the invaders from the west went to Russian lands along the Old Smolensk road. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Poles captured most of the Smolensk region, which became their territory for half a century. When the lands returned to Russia, a postal route was laid in a western direction. For the speed of movement of the postal service, the local population was ordered to keep the road in good condition.

In 1668 the first postal station was established in the village of Mignovichi, and by the middle of the 19th century there were seven postal routes with 43 stations in the Smolensk province. Most of them were located on the Old Smolensk tract.

Road transformations

Peter I, who started the reorganization of all governments, did not bypass the road business. He handed over the issues of road construction and maintenance to the newly created Board of Chambers, in the provinces these issues were de alt with by special commissioners.

smolens moscow
smolens moscow

According to his order, local peasants who completed field work were actively involved in the repair and construction of roads. The width of large roads, including the one leading from Smolensk to Moscow, was set at three sazhens, that is, 6.39 meters.

But, despite the efforts made, the roads in Russia remained in a deplorable state. Travelers still complained that the road was often not good.was laid, and numerous swamps and swamps made it difficult to move in the summer.

In 1764, Catherine the Great signed a decree on the installation of stone milestones on all the main roads of Russia, which included the Old Smolensk Road. They had to be the same, a sample in the form of a picture was attached. A new instruction immediately followed: not to pave the roads with logs, but to make them where “where there is convenience”, stone. But, as usual in Russia, orders were sometimes carried out, but what was there.

Mile markers made of logs were put up along the Smolenskaya road for the first time, many trees were planted along the road. When they grew up, a tent formed over the heads of the travelers, protecting them from heat and rain.

1812 and 1941

Every schoolchild in our country knows that Napoleon went to the capital along the Old Smolensk tract. He walked with his invincible army, and the exhausted Russian army retreated along the same road.

Napoleon went all the way from Smolensk to Moscow, from start to finish. But first he had to enter into a decisive battle near the village of Borodino. On August 26, 1812, two huge armies converged on the Borodino field. The French Emperor was sure that on that day he would achieve the surrender of Russia. After 15 hours of battle, both exhausted troops, having suffered huge losses, ended up in the same starting positions.

old smolensk road on a modern map
old smolensk road on a modern map

To save the army for further battles, M. I. Kutuzov led him under cover of night from the Borodino field, and Napoleon completed his march along the highway to the Kremlin. And then back.

The fierce battles during the Great Patriotic War also fell on the places through which the Old Smolensk road passes. Probably nowhere are there so many monuments to those who died in those wars while defending their Fatherland, as in cities, villages, villages, and simply in an open field along it.

Modern road

The road was of great importance until the middle of the 19th century, until the modern, by those standards, Warsaw highway was built. It passed through the Kaluga, Smolensk provinces, through Belarus to Warsaw. Since then, the old tract began to lose its significance, was used for local purposes, and less and less attention was paid to it. The road fell into decay, and when the Moscow-Minsk-Brest highway was built in the 20th century, it was practically forgotten.

Smolensk tract
Smolensk tract

Today the Old Smolensk road on the modern map looks like a dashed line. Some of its sections are in very poor condition, some are completely impassable. Although good asph alt has been preserved in some places, other sections have turned into dirt roads.

Although there has been talk that the road will be restored for more than a year. I really want to believe it.