General Map of Smolensk Province: Showing Postal and Major Roads, Stations and the Distance in Versts between Them


This 1821 map of Smolensk Province is from a larger work, Geograficheskii atlas Rossiiskoi imperii, tsarstva Pol'skogo i velikogo kniazhestva Finliandskogo (Geographical atlas of the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Poland, and the Grand Duchy of Finland), containing 60 maps of the Russian Empire. Compiled and engraved by Colonel V.P. Piadyshev, it reflects the detailed mapping carried out by Russian military cartographers in the first quarter of the 19th century. The map shows population centers (six gradations by size), postal stations, roads (four types), state, provincial and district borders, factories, and monasteries. Distances are shown in versts, a Russian measure, now no longer used, equal to 1.07 kilometers. Legends and place-names are in Russian and French. The territory depicted on the map lies near the western border of present-day Russia. Smolensk was founded in the ninth century, soon after Novgorod. Smolensk benefited from being located between the Western Dvina and Dnieper Rivers, and thus was a crucial stop for the Vikings, who used these river systems to trade between the Baltic and Black Seas. Smolensk was in the center of the trade route between the Varangians and the Greeks, which connected Constantinople, Kievan Rus’, and Scandinavia, and its economy profited as a result. It eventually became a powerful city in Kievan Rus’ that rivalled Kiev itself. Smolensk later fell under the Grand Duchy of Lithuania but was captured by Muscovy in 1514. Grand Prince Vasily III built the famous Novodevichy Convent in Moscow to commemorate this event, replete with a central church and icon named in honor of the capture of Smolensk. After a major battle in 1812, Napoleon entered Smolensk during his Russian campaign, an event noted in Leo Tolstoy’s great novel, War and Peace.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Military Topographical Depot, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Генеральная Карта Смоленской Губернiи Съ показанiемъ почтовыхъ и большихъ проѣзжихъ дорогъ, станцiй и разстоянiя между оными верстъ

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map ; 40 x 38 centimeters


  • Scale 1:1,300,000

Last updated: October 30, 2015