Grodno Region

Grodno/Hrodna Region (Belarusian: Гродзенская вобласць, Hrodzienskaja vobłasć; Russian: Гродненская область, Grodnenskaya oblast) is one of the regions of Belarus. It is located in the northwestern part of the country.

The capital, Grodno, is the biggest city of the region. It lies on the Neman River. It borders Minsk Region to the east, Brest Region to the south, Poland (Podlaskie Voivodeship) to the west and Vitebsk Region and Lithuania (Alytus and Vilnius counties) to the north. Grodno's existence is attested to from 1127. Two castles dating from the 14th - 18th centuries are located here on the steep right bank of the Nemen. Many consider this city one of the most beautiful in Belarus: one of its masterpieces survived through the centuries, Orthodox St Boris & St Gleb (Kalozhskaya) Church dating back to the 12th century, is the second oldest in Belarus.

Grodno Region

Гродзенская вобласць (Belarusian)
Гродненская область (Russian)

Hrodna Region
Flag of Grodno Region
Coat of arms of Grodno Region
Coat of arms
Location of Grodno Region
Administrative centerGrodno
Largest citiesGrodno - 332,300
Lida - 98,200
Slonim - 51,600
Cities: 12
Urban localities: 21
City districts6
 • ChairmanVladimir Kravtsov
 • Total25,118.07 km2 (9,698.14 sq mi)
Highest elevation
323 m (1,060 ft)
Lowest elevation
80 m (260 ft)
(2009 census)
 • Total1,072,381
 • Density43/km2 (110/sq mi)
HDI (2017)0.814[1]
very high · 2nd


This region was the westernmost "borderlands" of the Early East Slavs (tribal union Dregovichs?) on the lands of the Balts in the 6th-9th centuries. In the 12th-14th centuries it was part of the area sometimes known as Black Ruthenia, that was fully incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) by the rulers of Lithuania in the 13th century.

In 1413, the area around Grodno, part of the Duchy of Trakai, was transformed into newly established Trakai Voivodeship. Grodno became the seat of Grodno County. In 1441, Magdeburg Law charter was granted to the capital by Casimir IV Jagiellon Grand Duke of Lithuania and future King of Poland. In 1444, Grodno received its coat of arms from Casimir's hands as well as substantial trade privileges.

Strong economic development of the area continued during the reign of Casimir's son - Duke Alexander Jagiellon who founded the first solid bridge over the Neman River as well as Monastery of Order of Saint Augustine and Monastery of Polish Ordo Fratrum Minorum. Later, Bona Sforza Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania, placed in Grodno her royal residence. According to medieval surveys, Grodno had 35 streets and 700 houses in 1558.

The golden age of Grodno falls on the reign of Stephen Báthory King of Poland, that is between 1576 and 1586. During his reign Grodno became royal headquarters and began to host sessions of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Senate and Parliament. In 1580, on king's order the castle of Grodno was rebuilt in Renaissance style of architecture, by Scoto di Parma.

In beginning of the 17th century, Grodno was one of the most developed and important cities in Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, traditionally recognized as the third capital of the commonwealth. Deterioration of province status began with Livonian War which put Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in long lasting and exhausting military conflict with Tsardom of Russia and Swedish Empire. Between 1765 and 1780, the province regained some of its previous status when Antoni Tyzenhaus the Treasurer of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Administrator of Polish Royal Estates, was governing the capital and the province. Around 50 new economical endeavours was undertaken by Tyzenhaus in the region, new manufactures, mills and workshops have been built.

As the part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth forming the Grand Duchy's Trakai Voivodship, and due to subsequent Partitions of Poland, the whole of the Grodno region was finally annexed by Russian Empire by the end of 1795. The city of Grodno then became a seat for Grodno Governorate.

During World War I the governorate was occupied by Germany. German troops entered Grodno city on 3 September 1915, plundering the famous Library of Dominicans Order. During German occupation, Polish citizens of Grodno region were persecuted and had restricted civil rights. At the end of the war, the Belarusian National Republic declared its independence from Soviet Russia in March 1918 in Minsk. Grodno was the site of the last stand of the BNR's Council (Rada). Soon, the Council was forced to flee as Soviet troops invaded the region and the city in 1919. The same year Polish–Soviet War broke out and lasted until 1921.

Under the terms of Peace Treaty of Riga the region and the city returned to Second Polish Republic which claimed rights to this territory as a successor to Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and as victorious side of the Polish–Soviet War. By 1939, the Grodno city had 60,000 inhabitants, with Poles and Jews accounting for 60% and 37% of the population, respectively. During Polish rule Grodno was centre of Grodno County in Białystok Voivodeship, but some parts of present Grodno Region was in the voivodeships of Nowogródek and Wilno.

On 17 September 1939, the Grodno area was invaded by Soviet Union and incorporated by force to the Soviet Union as part of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Grodno was located in the newly established Belastok Region. Thousands were imprisoned or deported to Siberia or Kazakhstan. Forced Sovietisation included robbery (nationalisation), terror, Rusification or Ruthification. During World War II the region fell under Nazi German occupation. In November 1941, German occupants established the Grodno Ghetto for Jewish citizens of Grodno and rest of the region population. In 1942, after a year of severe persecution and planned starvation of ghetto inhabitants, 10,000 Jews from Grodno were deported to the German concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau and murdered there. Next year, in 1943, survivors of remaining 17,000 of ghetto inhabitants were again deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as to Treblinka extermination camp and Białystok Ghetto. Although on 13 March 1943, German troops reported the end of extermination and described Grodno city as judenrein, around 50 Jews survived the extermination, also hidden by non-Jewish families. Polish and Soviet underground acted in the region. Villages like Dziarečyn, which originally had large Jewish populations, were greatly reduced.

As a result of Joseph Stalin's policy of expansion to the west, it was decided during the Yalta Conference that the Polish eastern border shall be set along the so-called "original" Curzon Line. Based on this decision, the left-bank part of Grodno town would be kept within the borders of Poland. It is actually not clear till today, how the original Curzon Line near Grodno has been moved by around 20 km to the west. When the so-called "mistake" (today regarded rather as deliberate sabotage within British ministry structures) became obvious to negotiators, Stalin refused to correct the mistaken line. Despite multiple and desperate appeals from Polish citizens of Grodno, the whole Grodno region, (including ethically Polish till today) Sapotskin Triangle, was incorporated to the Soviet Belarus and many Poles emigrated or were expelled.

In 1944 Belastok Region was dissolved and Grodno Region established.

Since 1991 the Grodno Region constitutes one of 6 regions of independent Belarus.

Heritage and tourism

Main tourist attractions in the region are numerous old architectural constructions such as castles in Mir, Lida, Novogrudok. A part of Białowieża Forest is situated here, but the tourist excursions start from the Brest Region part of the National Park. Zhyrovichy Monastery is a popular place for religious travelers. The Mir Castle Complex and Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

There are about 45 travel agencies in Grodno Region, half of them provide agent activity, the other half are tour operators.[3][4]

Demographics (2002)

The province covers an area of 25,100 km² and has a population of 1,065,100, giving a population density of 42/km².[5] About 63.5% live in cities and towns, while 36.5% live in rural areas. Females account for 53% of the region's population and men 47%. There are about 310,000 children under 19, and about 240,000 people aged over 60.

Nowadays, Belarusians account for 62.3% of the population. The region is a home to significant minority populations:

  • Poles (24.8%),
  • Russians (10%),
  • Ukrainians (1.8%),
  • Jews (0.4%),
  • Tatars (0.2%),
  • Lithuanians (0.2%),
  • other nationalities (0.4%).

Whereas Belarus as a whole is primarily Russian Orthodox, Grodno Region has two major religions, Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox. There are 449 religious communities and 18 denominations, 2 Russian Orthodox eparchial districts, 1 Orthodox nun sorority, 2 Catholic monk brotherhoods, 1 Catholic nun sorority, 2 Orthodox and 4 Catholic monasteries, 165 Orthodox and 169 Catholic churches. The Catholic minority is made up mostly of Poles, although the identifier "Pole" has also been historically applied to Catholic Belarusians.

There are a number on national minority associations: 6 Polish, 6 Lithuanian, 4 Jewish, 1 Ukrainian, 1 Russian, 1 Tatar, 1 Georgian, 1 Chuvash.

Administrative subdivisions

The Grodno Region is subdivided into 17 districts (rajons), 194 selsoviets, 12 cities, 6 city municipalities, and 21 urban-type settlements.

Cities and towns

Hrodna is located in Belarus

See also


  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  2. ^ Highest point: Zamkovaya Mountain
    Lowest point: Spot were the Neman
    crosses the country's border
  3. ^ Ministry of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus. (2011). "Number of organizations engaged in tourist activities in 2010 in Belarus". Land of Ancestors. National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  4. ^ Ministry of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus. (2011). "Number of organisations engaged in tourist activities in Belarus by region". Land of Ancestors. National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Main Geographic Characteristics of the Republic of Belarus. Territory and population density of Belarus by region as of January 1, 2011". Land of Ancestors. The Scientific and Production State Republican Unitary Enterprise “National Cadastre Agency” of the State Property Committee of the Republic of Belarus. 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2013.

External links

Coordinates: 53°45′N 25°20′E / 53.750°N 25.333°E


Ashmyany (Belarusian: Ашмя́ны; Łacinka: Ašmiany; Russian: Ошмя́ны; Lithuanian: Ašmena; Polish: Oszmiana; Yiddish: אָשמענע‎, Oshmene) is a town in Grodno Region, Belarus, located at 50 km from Vilnius, capital of the Ashmyany raion. It lies in the basin of the Ashmyanka River. It is also known as "Aschemynne" in the chronicles of the Teutonic Knights. It was the birthplace of Lucjan Żeligowski, a renowned Polish general and military commander.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park

Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park (Russian, official: Национальный парк «Беловежская пуща», Belarusian: Нацыянальны парк Белавежская пушча) is a national park within parts of the Brest Region (Kamyanyets District and Pruzhany District) and Grodno Region (Svislach District) in Belarus adjacent to the Polish border. It is a preserved part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Białowieża Forest, the last primaeval forest fragment of the European woodlands that once stretched across the European Plain. It is home to a large population of European bison, the continent's heaviest land animals. The border between the two countries runs through the forest with the Białowieża National Park on the Polish side of the border. Since May 2015 there has been a visa-free regime within the forest for hikers and cyclists at the Pererov-Białowieża border crossing.

Grodno District

Grodno District or Hrodna District (Belarusian: Гродзенскі раён, Гарадзенскі раён; Russian: Гродненский район) is a district (raion) of Grodno Region of Belarus.

The administrative center is Grodno, which, however, does not form part of the district.

Hrodna Airport

Hrodna Airport (IATA: GNA, ICAO: UMMG) is an airport that serves Grodno, Belarus.

Karelichy District

Karelichy District (Belarusian: Карэліцкі раён) is a district (rajon) in Grodno Region of Belarus.

The administrative center is Karelichy.

Masty, Belarus

Masty (Belarusian: Масты; Lithuanian: Mastai) or Mosty (Russian: Мосты́; Polish: Mosty) is a city in Grodno Region, Belarus, the administrative center of Masty District.

Mir Castle Complex

The Mir Castle Complex (Belarusian: Мірскі замак, Łacinka: Mirski zamak, Lithuanian: Myriaus pilis, Polish: Zamek w Mirze) is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Belarus. It is in the town of Mir, in the Kareličy District of the Hrodna voblast, at 53°27′4.46″N 26°28′22.80″E, 29 kilometres (18 mi) north-west of another World Heritage site, Niasviž Castle. Mir Castle Complex is 164 metres (538 ft) above sea level.[1]

From 1921 to 1939 the castle belonged to the territory of Poland.


Navahrudak (Belarusian: Навагрудак, Russian: Новогрудок, Novogrudok; Polish: Nowogródek; Lithuanian: Naugardukas) is a city in the Grodno Region of Belarus. In the 14th century it was an episcopal see of the Metropolitanate of Lithuania. It is a possible first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, with Trakai also noted as a possibility. It was later part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire and eventually Poland until the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 when the Soviet Union annexed the area to the Byelorussian SSR.

Navahrudak District

Navahrudak District (Belarusian: Навагрудскі раён, Наваградзкі раён) - a district (rajon) in Grodno Region of Belarus.

The administrative center is Navahrudak.

Old Grodno Castle

The Old Grodno Castle (also known as the Grodno Upper Castle and Bathory's Castle) originated in the 11th century as the seat of a dynasty of Black Ruthenian rulers, descended from a younger son of Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev.

The 13th-century keep of the castle belonged to a type of Belarusian defensive tower represented by the Tower of Kamyanyets. Vytautas the Great added five Brick Gothic towers in 1391–98, transforming the castle into one of his main residences. Casimir IV Jagiellon also favoured Hrodna over Lithuania's official capital. It was there that the Polish Crown was offered to him, and it was there that he died in 1492.

The next notable tenant of the castle was Stephen Báthory who envisaged Hrodna as the capital of his vast empire in Eastern Europe. He engaged Scotto of Parma to replace the Vytautas Castle with his own residence in the advanced Renaissance taste of Northern Italy. After Bathory's death in Hrodna in 1586, his pet project was abandoned. The citadel was devastated by the Russians during a Russo-Polish War in 1655.

The castle's revival was owing to Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac who raised sufficient funds to finance the refurbishing of the royal residence. The restored castle was selected by King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki of Poland as the location for every third Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The castle suffered extensive damage during the Great Northern War, forcing the royal court to move into the New Hrodna Castle.

After the partitions of Poland the castle was given over to the Russian army and housed a barracks. The authorities of interwar Poland restored the chamber of the ambassadors and the Sejm Hall. At present the castle is classed as a museum.


Ščučyn (Belarusian: Шчучын, Ščučyn, Be-Ščučyn.ogg ; Russian: Щýчин, pronounced [ˈɕːʉtɕɪn]; Polish: Szczuczyn Litewski; Lithuanian: Šukynas; Yiddish: שטשוטשין, Shtutchin) is a city in the Grodno Region of Belarus. It is the center of Shchuchyn District. The population is nearly 15,000 (2010).


Skidzieĺ (Belarusian: Скідзель, also Скідаль, Skidal’; Lithuanian: Skidlius; Polish: Skidel; Russian: Скидель) is a town in the Grodno Region of Belarus located 31 kilometers from Grodno.


Slonim (Belarusian: Сло́нім, Russian: Сло́ним, Lithuanian: Slanimas, Polish: Słonim, Yiddish: סלאָנים‎, Slonim) is a city in Grodno Region, Belarus, capital of the Slonim district. It is located at the junction of the Shchara and Isa rivers, 143 km (89 mi) southeast of Grodno. The population in 2015 was 49,739.


Smarhon’ or Smorgon (Belarusian: Смарго́нь, [smarˈɣonʲ]; Russian: Сморгонь; Lithuanian: Smurgainys; Polish: Smorgonie; Yiddish: סמאָרגאָן‎) is a city in the Grodno Region of Belarus. It was the site of Smarhon’ air base, now mostly abandoned. Smarhon’ is located 107 km from the capital, Minsk.

In the early 17th century it was established in Grand Duchy of Lithuania but in 1793 passed on to Russia as part of the Russian Pale of Settlement. Until the mid 19th century, Smarhon’ was a private property of the Radziwiłł family with most of its population being Jewish. Shortly after World War I until World War II Smarhon’ returned to Second Polish Republic which claimed rights to this territory as a successor to Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and as victorious side of the Polish–Soviet War.

Smorgon is known as the place where the so-called Bear Academy was founded.


Svislach (Belarusian: Свiслач, pronounced [ˈɕvislatʃ] (listen); Russian: Свислочь, Svisloch, Polish: Świsłocz, Yiddish: סיסלעוויטש‎, Lithuanian: Svisločius) is a city in the South-West of Grodno Region, Belarus, an administrative center of the Svislach district.

It is connected with Vaŭkavysk by a railroad branch and with Hrodna by a highway. International phone number prefix: 375-15-13.

Svislach District

Svislach District (Belarusian: Свіслацкі раён, Сьвіслацкі раён) is a district (rajon) in Grodno Region, Belarus.

The administrative center is Svislach.

Vawkavysk District

Vaŭkavysk District (Belarusian: Ваўкавыскі раён) is a district in Grodno Region of Belarus.

The administrative center is Vaŭkavysk.

Voranava District

Voranava District is a district in Western Belarus, in Grodno Region. Its administrative center is the town of Voranava.


Zelva (Belarusian: Зэльва, Russian: Зельва, Polish: Zelwa, Lithuanian: Zelva, Želva, Yiddish: זעלווא‎) is a town in Grodno Region, Belarus, the administrative center of Zel’va district. It is situated by the Zel’vyanka River.

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