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Навагрудак / Navahrudak
נאַוואַרעדאָק, נאָווהאַרדאָק (Navaredok, Novhardok) in Yiddish
Skyline of Навагрудак / Navahrudak
Flag of Навагрудак / Navahrudak
Coat of arms of Навагрудак / Navahrudak
Coat of arms
Location of Navahrudak, shown within the Hrodna Voblast
Location of Navahrudak, shown within the Hrodna Voblast
Founded 1044
Elevation 292 m (958 ft)
Population (2009)[1]
 • Total 29,336
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 231241, 231243, 231244, 231246, 231400
Area code(s) +375 1597
License plate 4
Website Official website

Navahrudak (Belarusian: Навагрудак, ; Russian: Новогрудок; Lithuanian: Naugardukas; Polish: Nowogródek)[2] 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.


  • Early history 1
  • Later history 2
  • Sights 3
  • Climate 4
  • International relations 5
    • Twin towns – Sister cities 5.1
  • External links 6
  • Notes 7

Early history

First mentioned in the Sophian First Chronicle and Fourth Novgorod Chronicle in 1044 in relation to a war of Yaroslav I the Wise against Lithuanian tribes.[3] It was also mentioned in the Hypatian Codex under 1252 as Novogorodok (i.e. "new little town") the town was a major settlement in the remote western lands of the Krivichs that came under the control of the Kievan Rus at the end of the 10th century. Later hypothesis is disputed, as there are earliest archaeological findings from 11th century only.[4]

In the 13th century, the fragile unity of the Rus disintegrated due to nomadic incursions from Asia, which reached a climax with the Mongol Horde's sacking of Kiev (1240), leaving a geopolitical vacuum in the region later to be known under the conventional name Black Ruthenia. The Early East Slavs splintered along preexisting tribal lines into a number of independent and competing principalities.

Mindaugas of Lithuania made use of the plight to annex Navahrudak, which also became part of Kingdom of Lithuania,[5][6][7][8] later Grand Duchy of Lithuania. During the 16th century, Maciej Stryjkowski was the first who, in his chronicle,[9] proposed theory, that Navahrudak became the capital of the 13th century state. This statement is supported by several other scholars, while others dispute this notion, mainly because contemporary chronicles of the 13th century do not give any reference about Navahrudak as capital, even stating that city was transferred to the king of Halych-Volhynia.[10] Vaišvilkas, the son and successor of Mindaugas, took monastic vows in Lavrashev Monastery[11] near Novgorodok and founded an Orthodox convent there.[12]

Later history

Former Market Square

Navahrudak was a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth following the Union of Lublin in 1569. In 1795 it was incorporated into Grodno Governorate (It was founded as Slonim Governorate in 1795 and renamed in 1801) of Imperial Russia due to the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was transferred to Minsk Governorate in 1843. The town was a center of thriving Jewish community, its 1900 population was 5,015.[13] In the First World War it was under German occupation from 1915 to 1918, and was occupied by the Polish Army at first, later the Red Army, during the Polish-Bolshevik war. It was given to Poland by the treaty of Riga, following which Navahrudak became the capital of Nowogródek voivodship.

Soviet troops entered the city in September 1939 and it was annexed into the Soviet Union via the Byelorussian SSR. The Polish people living there were transported by train to Siberia where they were forced to work in labor camps under harsh conditions. These were among the millions of Poles deported from their homes to Siberia by the Soviet Union, becoming displaced persons. In the administrative division of the new territories, the city briefly (November 2, to December 4;) was the centre of the Navahrudak Voblast. Afterwards the administrative centre moved to Baranavichy and name of voblast was renamed as Baranavichy Voblast, the city became the centre of the Navahrudak Raion (January 15, 1940). On June 22, 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the USSR and Navahrudak was occupied on July 4, following one of the more tragic events when the Red Army was surrounded in what's known as the Novogrudok Cauldron. See Operation Barbarossa: Phase 1.

During the German occupation it became part of the Ostland. Partisan resistance immediately began. The Bielski partisans made of Jewish volunteers operated in the region. On 1 August 1943, Nazi troops shot down eleven nuns, the Martyrs of Nowogródek. The Red Army reoccupied the city almost exactly three years after its German occupation on July 8, 1944. During the war more than 45,000 people were killed in the city and in the surrounding area, and over 60% of housing was destroyed.

Navahrudak was an important Jewish center and shtetl. It was home to the Novardok yeshiva, led by Rabbi Yosef Yozel Horwitz, as well as the hometown of Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein and of the Harkavy Jewish family, including Yiddish lexicograph Alexander Harkavy. Before the war, the population was 20,000, of which about half were Jewish; Meyer Meyerovitz and Meyer Abovitz were the Rabbis there at that time. During a series of "actions" in 1941, the Germans killed all but 550 of the approximately 10,000 Jews. (The first mass murder of Navahrudak's Jews occurred in December, 1941.) Those not killed were sent into slave labor.[14]

After the war, the BSSR retained the city, and a rapid rebuilding process quickly restored most of the destroyed infrastructure. On July 8, 1954, following the disestablishment of the Baranavichy Voblast, the raion, along with Navahrudak became part of the Hrodna Voblast, in which it remains to this day, in modern Belarus.


Ruins of Navahrudak Castle. Current state.
Shopping Mall. 2004.
  • Navahrudak Castle, sometimes anachronistically called Mindaugas' Castle, was built in the 14th century and is in ruins since being burnt down by the Swedes in 1710.
  • The Orthodox SS. Boris and Gleb Church, started in 1519 in the Gothic style, but not completed until the 1630s; it was extensively repaired in the 19th century.
  • Other architectural attractions include the Church of St. Michael, renovated in 1751 and 1831, and the shopping mall in the central square.

Some of the Harkavys are buried at the old Jewish cemetery of Navahrudak. A house is shown where the poet Adam Mickiewicz was born; there are also his statue and the "Mound of Immortality", created in his honour by the Polish administration in 1924–31.


The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Dfb" (Warm Summer Continental Climate).[15]

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Navahrudak is twinned with:

External links

  • City administration
  • Photos on
  • Jurkau kutoczak — Юркаў куточак — Yury's Corner. Наваградак
  • History of Jewish shtetl in navahrudak
  • History
  • The murder of the Jews of Navahrudak during World War II, at Yad Vashem website.


  1. ^ "World Gazetteer". World Gazetteer. Archived from the original on 2013-01-11. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  2. ^ Also Novgorodok, Novogrudok (Russian: Новогрудок), Nowogródek (in Polish), Navaredok or Novhardok (in Yiddish)
  3. ^ Н.П.Гайба. История Новогрудка
  4. ^ "Oshchestvo Srednevekovoj Litvy". Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  5. ^ D. Antanavičius, D. Baronas etc. Mindaugo knyga: istorijos šaltiniai apie Lietuvos karalių. Vilnius, 2005. pp.63-93
  6. ^ J. Geddie. The Russian Empire: Historical and Descriptive. P.102
  7. ^ J. Phillips. The Medieval Expansion of Europe. p. 78
  8. ^ Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Полное собрание русских летописей. Ипатьевская летопись. Москва, 1998. pp.880-881
  11. ^ Following the Tracks of a Myth Edvardas Gudavičius
  12. ^ S.C. Rowell. Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-central Europe, 1295-1345. Cambridge University Press, 1994. Page 149.
  13. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  14. ^ "Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Novogrudok". Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  15. ^ Climate Summary for Navahrudak
  16. ^ "Elbląg - Podstrony / Miasta partnerskie". Elbląski Dziennik Internetowy (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  17. ^ "Elbląg - Miasta partnerskie". Elblą (in Polish). Retrieved 2013-08-01. 

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