Polotsk is one of the most ancient cities of the Eastern Slavs. It was mentioned for the first time by the Primary Chronicle in 862 (as polotesk). Polotsk became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1307, and it is said to have been the main center of trade in the state.
Cultural achievements of the medieval period include the work of the nun Euphrosyne of Polotsk (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 lost during World War II), and the prolific, original Church Slavonic sermons and writings of Bishop Cyril of Turaw (1130-1182).
The city's Cathedral of Saint Sophia in Polotsk (1044-1066) was a symbol of the independent-mindedness of Polotsk, rivaling churches of the same name in Novgorod and Kiev and referring to the original Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (and thus to claims of imperial prestige, authority and sovereignty). The building of the cathedral had been ruined by the troops of Peter I of Russia. Hence the present baroque building by Johann Christoph Glaubitz dates from the mid-18th century. Some genuine 12th-century architecture survives in the Convent of Saint Euphrosyne, which also features a neo-Byzantine cathedral, designed and built in 1893—1899 by Vladimir Korshikov.
Belarusian first printer Francysk Skaryna was born in Polotsk around 1490. He is famous for the first printing of the Bible in the East Slavic language (in Old Belarusian) in 1517, several decades after the first-ever printed book by Johann Gutenberg and just several years after the first Czech Bible (1506).
This tour can be combined with others on request.