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Trip Planner Europe  /  Belarus  /  Grodno Region  /  Vawkavysk


Vawkavysk is one of the oldest towns in southwestern Belarus and the capital of the Vawkavysk district. It is located on the Wołkowyja River, roughly 98km from Grodno and 271km from Minsk. Its population is estimated at 43,826 inhabitants.Vawkavysk was first unofficially mentioned in the Turov Annals in 1005 and this year is widely accepted as the founding year for Vawkavysk. At that time Volkovysk was a city-fortress on the border of the Baltic and the Slavic ethnic groups. Since 12th century, Volkovysk was the center of a small princedom. The Hypatian Chronicle mentions the city in 1252.ToponymyThe name is thought to be derived from the local dialect for the phrases for searching for wolves or the howling of wolves . Old Belarusian tradition refers to the area surrounding Vawkavysk as once being occupied by vast forestry filled with wolves. The river flowing through the town was named Wołkowyja. This also explains the appearance of a wolf's head or body on the town's coat of arms.However, modern scholars have also hypothesized that the name of Vawkavysk was of more recent origin and hence succeeded the original legend. Vawkavysk was mentioned in a manuscript written by the priest D. Bułakowski at the end of the 16th or beginning of the 17th century. It was stored in the Sapieha family's library in Ruzhany Palace, where it was translated into Russian in 1881 and published in a Vilnius gazette. According to the manuscript, in the place where Vawkavysk is now situated, were large swathes of forest, through which flowed the now non-existent Nietupa River, and consisted of winding travel routes on which travelers were frequently attacked. Within this forest, two robbers, named Voloko and Visek, had their hide-out. A prince named Vladislav Zabeyko, upon hearing of these attacks, tracked down the robbers and hung them on trees for the birds to feed upon. A settlement was built in the location of the robbers' hide-out, which was named Volokovysek, and occupied by slaves. At the execution site, a large stone was placed but, according to local tradition, was later broken up to be used to build a temple.
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