Gomel’s park is 200 years old. It is a part of the palace-park ensemble which is associated with the names of Rumiantsevs and Paskevichs famous in Russia in the 18th-19th centuries. The center of the ensemble is the magnificent palace, a specimen of the 19th century classicism.

The biggest bell in Belarus was installed in the bell tower in Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Gomel. The bell was made at Minsk-based company Splendid Castings. It was made in two months. It is 2 meters high, 1,5 meters in diameter weighing 2 tons. The bell features Saints Peter and Paul and also the cross of patron saint of Belarus Yefrosinya of Polotsk.

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Gomel (often mentioned in the chronicles by the names Gomiy, Gomey, Gomin, Gom’ Gom'e) was founded by a Radimichi tribe in the late 1st century A.D. Its deditenets (old Belarusian word for a downtown) appeared on the right bank of the Sozh River and the left bank of the creek Gomjiuk flowing into the Sozh.

Gomel was first mentioned in the Ipatiy chronicles as the lands of the Prince of Chernigov and Prince Igor Olgovich. The archeological data show that in the 11th-13th centuries the town’s trades were iron working, jewelry making and bronze founding, pottery, wood working, bone carving, armouring. Trade ways connected the town with Kiev, Chernigov, Smolensk, Volyn, Northern Rus, Byzantium. Before the 18th century Gomel was one of the biggest towns in the lands of the Radimichi tribe.

About 1335 Gomel was incorporated into the Great Duchy of Lithuania. In the end of the 14th century it was mentioned in the “List of the Russian towns” as a “Kiev Rus” town. In 1406 Grand Duke of Lithuania Vitovt took the Gomel principality away from Duke Alexander Patrikievich suspecting him being an ally of Moscow. In 1406-1419 Gomel was ruled by Grand Duke’s governors. In 1419-1435 the town belonged to Duke Svidrigailo, in 1446-1452 – to Duke of Serpukhov Vasiliy Yaroslavich who fled Russia, from 1452 Gomel was again ruled by Svidrigailo. After his death the town was acquired by Duke of Mozhaisk Ivan Andreevich who abandoned Russia and approximately from 1483 was owned by his son Semen.

During the Russian-Lithuanian war Gomel was seized by the Lithuanian-Polish forces in June 1535. Moscow governor Schepin-Obolenskiy leading the defence surrendered the town. Under the peace accord of 1537 Gomel was again brought to the Great Duchy of Lithuania. In the mid 16th century Gomel played an important role in defending the south-eastern lands of the Great Duchy of Lithuania from the raids of the Crimean Tatars.

Following the Lublin union of 1569 between the Great Duchy of Lithuania and Poland Gomel became a part of the new federative state Rzecz Pospolita.

In 1670 the town was granted the Magdeburg Law.

In 1772 after the first division of Rzecz Pospolita Gomel was brought under the realm of the Russian Empire. It belonged to Count Rumiantsev Zadunaiskiy and his sons who in 1834 sold the town to General-Field Marshal Paskevich Erivanskiy. In 1755 the town’s population made 5 thousand people.

In 1850 a main road connecting Petersburg with Kiev was laid through Gomel as well as the first in Russia Petersburg-Sevastopol telegraph circuit. In 1954 the town of Belitsa was attached to Gomel and became the town’s outskirts (now the Novobelitsky district of Gomel). In 1865 the town was granted the municipal arms.

The parts of the Libavo-Romenskaya railway went through in 1873 Gomel and in 1888 – those of the Polesie railway. After the town was turned into a railway junction, development of industry and commerce speeded up. Municipal authorities started to improve sanitation in the city, in 1872 gas street-lamps appeared in the streets, after 1879 main streets were paved. According to the 1872 census population 36,8 thousand residents lived in Gomel.

In 1926 the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic was enlarged again and Gomel became a part of Belarus. In 1940 Gomel’s population made up 144.169 residents. In the town there operated a teacher’s training and forestry engineering institutes, a forestry research institute as well as a trachomatous and ophthalmology one, 11 institutions of specialized secondary education, 30 schools, 15 clubs, 5 cinema halls, a drama theatre and a museum of local history and economy.

Since the very beginning of the Nazi occupation of Belarus a partisan movement arose in Gomel oblast, in November 1942 turning into the Gomel partisan formation.

The town was seriously damaged by the war. The Nazi removed the town’s industrial and energy equipment, food reserves, stocks of raw material to Germany. Dwelling houses were destroyed by 80 per cent. Over 55 thousand residents were killed in the war and another 5 thousand were taken out for forced labour in Germany. The town’s population became more than 9 times less.

  Curious facts... What to see in Gomel? First of all, the park! It was laid in the end of the 18th century by Duke Rumiantsev around the palace which was built on his orders. The park serves the most successful example of park design in Belarus. The park on the steep shore of the Sozh takes 25 hectares. Various species of the trees are efficiently arranged into groups what enhances their perception. Among the usual for Belarus maples, ash-trees and chestnuts there is an eastern white pine, Northern white oak and Manchurian walnut. The park made the palace look unique. The palace’s construction began in 1785 and finished in 20 years. The palace changed its looks just once – 60 years later when it was given to General Paskevich. A new palace tower has made it even more impressive.  

Development, informational and technical support: BELTA, 2006