Go on watch with an archer

Smolensk Region

Russia Beyond
Russia Beyond
Belt up the caftan, fasten the leather bag for bullets and fuse supplies, pull on your gloves… what else? Take the “berdysh” (a battle ax with a semicircular blade on a long shaft). Now you look just like an archer!

In such an outfit, we set out on a real patrol to guard the largest fortress in Russia - Smolensk.

We learn from our older comrades about how the archers fought, what they talked about in their free time and what they were paid with.

Tower after tower, buckle after buckle… The fortress stretches for many kilometers. Can’t see the enemy? Well, fine! Who would dare storm the walls that did not succumb to the King of Poland and Grand Duke Sigismund III of Lithuania? Had not “city craftsman” Fedor Kon erected the citadel by 1602, who knows, maybe the trace of the Russian state would have been lost for centuries.

The sun is about to fall behind the fortress wall. Our watch is over. But yours is just getting started!

🗡 How to go on patrol with an archer? 🗡

🏰 Go to the Smolensk Fortress Museum website and buy a ticket for the ‘Streltsy Patrol’ theatrical tour.

🏰 You can get to Smolensk by car (about 6 hours from Moscow), by train or by plane (although most flights are only from St. Petersburg).

🏰 The Smolensk Fortress does not resemble the Moscow Kremlin or the Novgorod Detinets in its size. It is hard even to imagine what impression this colossal thing made on people at the end of the 16th century… Do not limit your visit to Smolensk by only getting to know the archers. Stay longer!

🏰 Wander on your own between the surviving parts of the wall that encircles the entire center of modern Smolensk, which is more than 6.5 km along its outer perimeter. Walk up to several observation points to see firsthand how the modern city was “subjugated” to the medieval fortress.

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