History of Novogrudok district

The picturesque scenery of the panorama of Novogrudok and its environs is opened to the traveller at the entrance to the town from any direction. This magical landscape seemed to have been originally marked with the finger of History. The centuries passed and left, but they did not pass without a trace. They are in the monuments of the town, its houses and streets, in the chronicles …

The history of any city and district is unique, however, the historical significance of  Novogrudok land is universally recognized. It was here the beginning of the creation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. But let’s talk step by step…

The first settlers on the territory of the present Novogrudok district appeared approximately 4 thousand years ago. This is evidenced by the preserved monuments of ancient times: sites, fortifications, burial mounds.

Novogrudok, also called Novgorodok, Novogorodok in the chronicles, Noviy Gorodok is one of the most ancient towns of Belarus. According to archaeological research, its history begins at the end of the tenth century.

In Sofia’s I and the Novgorod’s IV chronicles, the town was first mentioned under 1044 in connection with the advent of Yaroslav the Wise to Lithuania. In the Sophia I chronicle it is said: “Go Jaroslaw to Lithuania, and in spring laid the Novogorod and did it.” For the first time Russian historian V. Tatishchev expressed the idea that the city was founded in 1044. He wrote: “This Novgorod according to the circumstance is Lithuanian, which Vseslav Polotsky wanted to seize, but after acquainting Princes Yaroslavovichi, he paid off for his land and Minsk was taken first, and then on the Neman River in Lithuania, which is not far from Minsk and Novgorodok of Lithuania. For today this date is fixed in ” Encyclopedia of the History of Belarus ” (Minsk, 1999, volume 5 and “Belarusian Encyclopedia” (Minsk, 2002, vol. 11).

Situated on picturesque hills in the center of the Novogrudok Upland, the old part of the city has a unique look and an extremely eventful history.

At the turn of the Х-ХI centuries the Castle Hill was inhabited.

In the XII century  the town consisted of a detinets (Castle Hill) and a posad (Small Castle). Already for the first two centuries of its existence, Novogrudok has become the most affluent town of Ponemonya(the Neman area). In those years, Novogrudok residents established extensive trade contacts with the Baltic and Scandinavian principalities, European countries, Byzantium and the Middle East. In the 12th century, Novogrudok was one of the richest towns of  Black Russia or Upper Ponemanya.

Since the XIII century. Novogrudok is the center of the specific principality. In 1253 the Novogrudok prince Mindovg was crowned in the city as the king of Litovia. In this regard, Novogrudok can rightly be considered the capital and the core of the creation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL). The son of Mindovg, Wojselk, in the struggle against the Galician-Volhynian and Lithuanian princes, united the Pinsk land, Nalshany and Devoltva around Novogrudok. This territory was the basis of the GDL.

1316-1341 years. – The reign of Novogrudok Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas.

In 1341, the Novogrudok unitary principality began to be owned by Koryat Gediminovich, and from 1358 the principality passed into the possession of his son Feodor. In the late 14 century. Novogrudok belonged to Koribut, son of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Olgerd.

Since 1394 Novogrudok is the center of the Lithuanian Grand Duke’s domain.

In the late 14th century there begins the construction of a stone castle-fortress on Zamkova Hill, which ended in the early 16th century. Novogrudok Castle in the 16th century  had seven towers connected by walls, and additional fortifications from the north- a large earthen rampart and a defensive trench 30 meters in width, up to 4 m. in height. The walls were high walls. The castle for a long time was one of the most impregnable.

From 1316 (1317) in the city the residence (chair) of the Orthodox metropolitan was established. Since 1415 Novogrudok – the residence of Metropolitan VKL, since 1596 – the residence of the Uniate metropolitans of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In the middle of the 16th century there were 10 churches in Novogrudok. In different periods it had 5 churches, 6 monasteries, a synagogue and a mosque.

The seals of GDL were conducted in the town,  three times (1448, 1508, 1538). In 1422, the king of Poland Jagiello and Princess Sofya Golshanskaya were married in a farnal church. From their marriage went the famous dynasty of Jagiellons.

In 1428, the whole town with land and villages Vytautas handed over to his wife Ulyana for life. Gedimin, Olgerd, Keystut, and Kiev Metropolitans often were here .

July 26, 1511, the city receives the Magdeburg right. Self-government existed until 1795, when Novogrudok became part of the Russian Empire. From 1581 until 1775, the Supreme Court of Appeal, the Main Lithuanian Tribunal, was held here, and in one of the castle towers was its archive.

In 1595 Sigismund III Diploma city received the coat of arms: a red field – Archangel Michael, who holds a sword in his right hand and the left – the scales.

In the XVI – XVIII centuries in Novogrudok there lived permanently 2-3 thousand people.

Military events, urban fires and epidemics of the XVII-XVIII centuries led Novogrudok to political and economic extinction.

During the “bloody flood” (the war of 1654-1667), in September 1655 Novogrudok after the siege took the troops of Prince AN. Trubetskoi and the Ukrainian Cossacks I. Zolotarenko. The castle was badly damaged, and the town was burned down. The castle was partly restored, but again in 1660, was captured by Moscow troops of Prince I.A. Khovansky. The mercenary garrison, who did not receive payment for the service, opened the gates of the fortress.

During the Northern War in 1706, the Swedes stormed the city and the castle, they looted everything  and all the fortifications were blown up.

Since 1795 Novogrudok- in the Russian Empire, the county town of Slonim in the composition, since 1797 – in Lithuania, since 1801 – in Grodno, from 1843 – in the Minsk province.

Novogrudskaya gentry actively participated in the uprisings of 1830-1831gg. and in the years 1863-1864.

During the 19th century, Novogrudok is a small town with about 4000 inhabitants, 15 stone and 400 wooden houses. At the beginning of the 20th century, 6 fairs were held in the city every year. In 1897 in Novogrudok lived about 8000 inhabitants.


Since September 1915 Novogrudok was occupied by German troops, which in April 1919 replaced the Polish troops. In July 1920 the Red Army entered Novogrudok, but the Poles destroyed it already in October.

In 1921-1939 Novogrudok was a part of Poland, the center of voivodship and povet. Here in 1922 the head of the Polish state Józef Pilsudski came, in May 1924 – President Stanislaw Wojciechowski.

In Novogrudok the Belarusian grammar school operated, which was supported by the parents’ committee. At one time it was finished by future Belarusian poets Anatoly Ivere and Nina Taras, scientists Boris Kit and Leonid Borisoglebsky. A famous artist Yazep Drozdovich worked here as a teacher of drawing for several years. In the town there were seven-year schools, a lyceum, a Polish grammar school, a library, a club. Shortly before 1939 a private cinema for 70 seats was opened. For the guests of the city were given rooms in the hotels “Europe”, “Paris”, “Brazil”.

Since 1939 Novogrudok was part of the Belorussian SSR, since 1940 the district center.

Since January 15, 1940. Novogrudok is the center of the Novogrudok district of the Baranovichi region.

During the Second World War, Novogrudok was under German occupation from July 4, 1941. One of the tragic events of the beginning of the war was the encirclement of parts of the Red Army in the so-called. “Novogrudok boiler”. During the war in Novogrudok and the region, over 45,000 people were killed. About 60% of the housing stock has been destroyed in the town. Novogrudok was liberated during the Bialystok operation on July 8, 1944.

January 8, 1954 Novogrudok district is part of Grodno region.

Since January 8, 1963, Novogrudok was a town of regional subordination.

In 1997 Novogrudok and Novogrudok district are united into a single administrative-territorial unit.

The names of many famous people are associated with Novogrudok, among them are: Chancellor of GDL Joachim Litavor Hreptovich, the great poet Adam Mickiewich, poet Jan Chechet, Vintsent Korotynskiy, the first Belarusian memoirist Fedor Evlashovskiy, the first Belarusian folklorist Solomon Rysinskiy, artist Yazep Drozdovich, photographer Yan Bulgak, our contemporary world famous scientist in the field of astronautics Boris Kit and many other state, scientific and cultural figures.