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History of Elets

History of Elets

The legends and true stories of ancient Yelets spread all over nine centuries of Russian history. These are the stories about numerous invasions of Middle Ages, when the city had been ruined and had been built every fifteen-twenty years, this is also the story about the battle of Kulikovo, and the true story about the blessing of the city by the metropolitan Alexey, the legend about a warrior of Timur army, who, riding his horse - white Akhal-Teke (argamak in Russian) fell from the steep coast into the Sosna River: the hill of Argamak was named after this event. One of the city legends tells us about the appearance of Saint Mary to Timur - after that he stopped his invasion of Rus in 1395. Gradually the history of the city - warrior turned into the history of the city - worker. In XVII - XVIII centuries different crafts and skills were developing here - lace-making, leather treating, shoe making etc. In XIX century the city became a big trade and industry centre, bead trading was highly developed, the rail - road was built, the brewery, wine factory and brick factory produced their goods, some gymnasiums and the secondary school of railway transport, which was the first in Russia, were opened. Well-to-do townspeople built churches, asylums, almshouses and they were also the sponsors for poor townspeople. The building of 32 churches was paid by Yelets merchants, they also sponsored the theatre, which was one of the best provincial theatres in Russia. Many saint people, scientists, writers, musicians, painters, actors, and public figures were born in Yelets. Modern Yelets is the city of science and education, a university center.

Yelets appeared as a fortress on the borders of the Wild Field (the steppes in the south of Russia inhabited by nomads). Then during some centuries ploughmen and craftsmen with the Cossacks had to defend their settlement. Very many conquerors came there. But the townsmen defended not only the city, they took part in different battles, for example in 1380, when Yelets squad was led by Prince Fyodor. From the XVI Yelets gradually turned into the city of craftsmen and merchants. But its townspeople did not ceased to serve their country. Yelets regiment took part in all the military campaigns in XVI11-XIX centuries, it was marked in the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and in the Russian-Turkish war. During the Crimean war Yelets regiment took part in the heroic defense of Sebastopol. It was awarded with St. George standard with the phrase “For Sebastopol in 1854-1855.” This reward was given to the regiment because of its bravery and valour. There is a monument dedicated to the Yelets infantry regiment in the city. In 1941 Yelets was attacked for the last time. River Sosna which divides the city into two parts was the last line for the fascists army, and Yelets offensive campaign was the first part in the battle defended Moscow. The phrase “We are from Yelets” was scratched on the wall of Reichstag in May, 1945. But Timurs invasion is the most legendary event in the history of the city. In 1395 400,000 warriors led by Timur came to River Sosna. Yelets was near, only a forest divided the city and the army. Timur ordered to fell the forest, to burn the nearest towns and slobodas (a kind of suburbs) and offered Yelets townspeople to give themselves up. But the townspeople refused. After that Timurs army invaded the city, killed all its defenders, captured Prince Fyodor of Yelets and cut out all the people in the city. Thus Yelets gave an example to all the Russia and Europe, which were defenseless against the invasion, compared with the Batu-Khans. The proverb says: “All the invaders from Tamerlan to Guderian were defeated near Yelets.”

Orthodox Yelets

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