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Polatsk (also spelt as Polacak, and transliterated from Russian language as Polotsk, Polotzk, Polock) is a city in Belarus. It is the center of Polatsk district in Vitsebsk region. It is situated by the Dvina river. 79'000 people.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Cultural heritage
3 Various
4 External links


Polatsk is one of the most ancient sities of Slavs. Mentioned first time in 862, in ancient documents it was also spelt as Polotesk, Polteks, Paltejsborg. Its name derives from the Polota river, that flows into Dvina at the location of Polatsk.

Between the 9th and 12th centuries, the principality of Polatsk (northern Belarus) emerged as the dominant center of power on Belarusian territory, with a lesser role played by the principality of Turaw in the south. It repeatedly asserted its sovereignty in relation to other centers of Rus', becoming a political capital, the episcopal see of a bishopric and the controller of vassal territories among Balts in the west. Polatsk becomes a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1307, and it is said to be the main important center of trade in the state. Adopted Magdeburg law in 1498. However, it was captured by the army of Ivan IV of Russia in 1563. Although retrieved by Polish army in 1579, it started to period of gradual decline of the city.

Since the fist partition of Poland Polatsk degraded to the status of a small provincial town of Russian Empire.

Cultural heritage

The city's Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom (1044-1066) was a symbol of the independent-mindedness of Polatsk, rivaling churches of the same name in Novgorod and Kiev, referring to the original Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (and hence to claims of imperial prestige, authority and sovereignty).

Cultural achievements of the Polatsk period include the work of the nun Euphrosyne of Polatsk (1120-1173), who built monasteries, transcribed books, promoted literacy and sponsored art (including local artisan Lazarus Bohsha's famous "Cross of Euphrosyne," a national symbol and treasure stolen during World War II), and the prolific, original Church Slavonic sermons and writings of Bishop Cyril of Turaw (1130-1182).

Belarusan first printer Francysk Skaryna was born in Polatsk around 1490. He is famous for the first printing of the Bible in Slavonic languages and the second one in Europe.


A crater on Mars is named Polotsk.

External links