Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River, 360 kilometers (220 mi) west-southwest of Moscow.
The walled city in the center of Smolensk (along with the outskirts) was destroyed several times throughout its long history because it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk is noted for electronics, textiles, food processing, and diamond faceting.
Located on the approaches to Moscow, the city of Smolensk saw fierce fighting in the summer of 1941. German armoured divisions of Army Group Centre began an offensive on July 10, 1941 to encircle Soviet forces in the Smolensk area. Soviet resistance was strong, and several counter-attacks were conducted. The Soviets even managed to temporarily break the German encirclement and to evacuate troops out of the pocket. The battle ended in early September. The bitter fighting had considerably delayed the overall German advance toward Moscow, so that defence lines further east could be strengthened. Smolensk was awarded the title Hero City in 1985.