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Skyline of Gomel
Flag of Gomel
Coat of arms of Gomel
Coat of arms
Gomel is located in Belarus
Location in Belarus
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Country  Belarus
Subdivision Homiel
Founded 1142
 • Mayor Kirichenko Peter
 • Total 135.34 km2 (52.26 sq mi)
Elevation 138 m (453 ft)
Population (2015)
 • Total 526,872 Increase
 • Density 4,258.4/km2 (11,029/sq mi)
Time zone FET (UTC+3)
Postal code 246xx, 247xxx
Area code(s) +375 232(2)
License plate 3
Website Official website

Gomel (Belarusian: Го́мель, translit.: Homyel’, Łacinka: Homiel, pronounced [ˈɣomʲelʲ], Russian: Го́мель, translit.: Gomel, pronounced [ˈɡomʲɪlʲ],[2] Polish: Homel, Yiddish: Homl ,האָמל‎, Lithuanian: Gomelis, Latvian: Gomeļa) is the administrative center of Gomel Voblast and the second-largest city in Belarus. It has a population of 515,325 (2013 census)[3] and its area is 135.3 km2.


Origin of the name

There are at least six versions of the origin of the city’s name. One of the best known is that the name is derived from the name of Gomeyuk stream, which flowed into the Sozh river near the foot of the hill where the first settlement was founded. Other Belarusian cities’ names are formed on these lines: for example, Minsk’s name is derived from the river Menka, Polotsk’s – from the Palata river, Vitebsk’s – from the Vitba river. In historical sources from 1142[citation needed] to the 16th century Gomel is named as Gom', Gomye, Gomiy, Gomey, Gomyi. These forms are tentatively explained as derivatives of an unattested *gomŭ of uncertain meaning.[4] The modern form of the city’s name has been used only since the 16th–17th centuries.

Gomel under Kievan Rus'

Gomel inner fortress in the 12th century

Gomel was founded at the end of the 1st millennium AD on the lands of the Eastern Slavic tribal union of Radimichs. It lays on the banks of the Sozh river and the Gomeyuk stream. Sozh's high left bank cut with canyons made a natural fortification. Some time Gomel was the capital of the Gomel Principality, then it went to the Principality of Chernigov. Gomel is first mentioned in the Hypatian Codex under the year of 1142 as the territory of Chernigov princes. For some time Gomel was held after being captured by Smolensk prince Rostislav Mstislavich but then was re-captured by Iziaslav III Davidovich, after whose death it belonged to Sviatoslav Olgovich and then to Sviatoslav's son Oleg. Under Oleg Gomel went to the Principality of Novhorod-Siverskyi. The next owner of Gomel was Igor Svyatoslavich – the hero of "The Tale of Igor's Campaign". During this period the town was a fortified point and the centre of volost. In the 12th–13th centuries the city's area was not less that 40 ha, it had various crafts developed and was connected by trading ways with the cities of Northern and Southern Rus'. From archeological data the city was badly damaged during the Mongol-Tatar assault in the first half of the 13th century.

Gomel under Great Duchy of Lithuania and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Gomel fortress in the 16th century
Coat of Arms of Gomel, 1560

In 1335 Gomel region was joined to the Great Duchy of Lithuania by Algirdas. In 1335–1406 it was under the ownership of prince Patrikiy Narymuntovich and his sons, in 1406–1419 the city was ruled by Great Duke's deputies, in 1419–1435 it belonged to prince Svitrigaila, in 1446–1452 to prince Vasiliy Yaroslavich, in 1452–1483 to Mozhaysk prince Ivan Andreyevich, in 1483–1505 to his son Semyon, who transferred Gomel to the Grand Duchy of Moscow. During the Second Muscovite-Lithuanian War of 1500–1503 Lithuania tried to return Gomel and other lands, transferred to Moscow, but suffered defeat and lost one third of its territory. In 1535 Lithuanian forces under Yu. Radzivill, Ya. Tarnovskiy and A. Nemira re-captured Gomel after the surrender of Moscow's deputy, D. Shchepin-Obolenskiy. In the same year Great Duke of Lithuania Sigismund Kęstutaitis founded the Gomel Starostwo. In reference to the peace agreement of 1537 Gomel together with its volost remained a Lithuanian possession. In 1535–1565 Gomel is the centre of starostwo, from 1565 Gomel is in the Rechitsa Powiat of the Minsk Voivodeship. In 1560 the city's first coat of arms was introduced. In 1569 Gomel became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. From this moment the city has become the arena of numerous attacks and battles between Cossaks, Russia and Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth. In 1572 Gomel Starostwo was given to B. Sapega. At the beginning of 1570s Gomel was captured by the forces of Ivan the Terrible, but in 1576 it was re-captured by J. Radziwiłł. In 1581 Gomel was again attacked by Russian troops, and in 1595–1596 it was in the hands of Severyn Nalyvaiko's Cossaks. After the beginning of struggle against the Orthodox Christianity in Lithuania the Orthodox Nikolayevskiy Cathedral was closed by the order of Greek Catholic Eparch Josaphat Kuntsevych in 1621. In 1633 the city was besieged by the Cossaks of Bulgakov and Yermolin, in 1648 was captured by the Golovatskiy's Cossak detachment, in 1649 by Martyn Nebaba's detachment. After that Gomel got through several besieges in 1651 but in 1654 was captured by Ivan Zolotarenko's detachment. He and his sons had been holding the city till 1667 and then they began to serve under Alexis of Russia, however, after the Truce of Andrusovo Gomel at last returned to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, where it firth belonged to M. K. Radziwiłł (Radzivll) and then till the annexation by the Russian Empire – to the Czartoryski family. During the Great Northern War Russian forces under Aleksandr Danilovich Menshikov stood in Gomel. In 1670 Gomel got the Magdeburg rights. Towards the middle of the 17th century the city came to crisis mainly due to struggles mention above. It suffered a lot of damage, population severely decreased, a lot of crafts disappeared.

Gomel in the Russian Empire

Gomel in the period when the Russian Empire marked by rapid population growth, urban infrastructure, industrial capacity.

Coat of arms of Gomel of times of the Russian Empire, 1856

Gomel became part of the Russian Empire in the first section of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772 and was confiscated by the imperial treasury. In 1775, Empress Catherine II gave Gomel and Gomel eldership in the eternal hereditary possession of the famous Russian military commander P. A. Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky.

File:Gomel plan, 1799.jpg
Gomel plan, 1799

The most important contribution to the establishment and development of Gomel, the son did P. A. Rumyantsev - N. P. Rumyantsev. That's when it first appeared in Gomel important industrial and socio-cultural facilities. Designed by architect John Clark was built Peter and Paul Cathedral (1809 - 1819), And November 8, 1819 opened the first in the imperial Russian Lancastrian school. When N. P. Rumyantsev Gomel opened the first high school, hotel courtyard, glass, tile, distilleries, weaving and spinning factory, built a church, a synagogue, a pharmacy, a hospice and a permanent wooden bridge over the Sozh river.

After the death of N. P. Rumyantsev city became the owner of his brother S. P. Rumyantsev. When it was built Trinity Church and the spiritual building of the school. However, due to lack of money on the S. P. Rumyantsev laid Gomel in the state treasury of the Russian Empire. Subsequently, not being able to pay the debt and sell treasury. Palace of the city acquired Prince Paskevich-Erivan, which gave Nicholas I (1838), the rest of the city. Paskevich founded around the palace park, which has become a unique natural object.

When Paskevich were opened glass manufactory, sugar factory, tallow-candle factory, several Cordage and sawmills, parochial class school and a public school. In the middle of the XIX century, a schematic layout of the city, is preserved to our time.

In 1850 passed through Gomel highway Saint Petersburg - Odessa and Russia's first telegraph line St. Petersburg - Sevastopol, in 1873 - Libava-Romny railroad in 1888 - Polesia Railway.

In 1856 the estate passed to his son Paskevich - F. I. Paskevich. During his 3 iron foundries based enterprise, 2 brick factory, a match factory "Vesuvius" began to develop gas lighting streets and bridges bridge. Wife of Fyodor Ivanovich Paskevich - Irina Ivanovna Gomel founded an orphanage for young girls, community support for students, built a hospice, men's classical gymnasium, eye clinic. Princess promoted the construction of the aqueduct, contained other institutions of education and health.

By 1913, Gomel was a major industrial city and counts 104.500 inhabitants.

Gomel plan, 1910

Soviet period

14 January 1919, Gomel was occupied by the troops of the red army that led to a major revolt against Bolshevik uprising Strekopytov. The insurgents took control of strategic objects and executed by members of the Soviet leadership of the city. The rebels were defeated transferred to Gomel by the red army.

In 1919, the Gomel became the center created by the Gomel governorate in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. After the end of hostilities began the restoration of industry and transport. In 20-ies of XX century was created a number of large businesses in the present day: ship repair workshops, factory "Polespechat", Shoe factory "Trud", the bakery, the first phase of the municipal power plant. Began construction of major industrial enterprises of Gomel: the plant "Gomselmash", meat processing plant and a woodworking factory.

In 1926 the city of Gomel was transferred together with the district of Gomel of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.

By 1940, there were 264 industrial enterprises, for output in the Gomel took 3rd place in the BSSR after Minsk and Vitebsk, its proportion accounted for 16.6% of industry of the BSSR.

World War II

During World War II, Gomel was under Nazi occupation from August 19, 1941 to November 26, 1943. The city was liberated by Rokossovsky's Belorussian Front during the Gomel-Rechitsa Offensive. Eighty percent of the city was destroyed. The population of Gomel has dropped tenfold.

The post-war period

After war prompt restoration of Gomel began. The majority of pre-revolutionary buildings were lost. City streets considerably expanded, and trunk mains built up with buildings in Stalinist Empire style. In 1950 almost all enterprises of pre-war time resumed the work.

Since the end of 1950 years mass building of Gomel by the faceless standardized buildings - "Khrushchevki" called in honor of the secretary general of the USSR Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev begins. The city took appearance of typically Soviet city.

Chernobyl Disaster

As a result of the catastrophe at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant occurred on 26 April 1986. Gomel was in the temperate zone of radioactive contamination. However, northeast (evacuation zone) and southwest (exclusion zone) from the city there are areas with serious levels of radioactive contamination. Significantly worsened the ecological situation of deep socio-economic crisis, which began in the USSR in the late 1980-ies. This caused a sharp decline in living standards and gradual of depopulation that lasted until the early XXI century.

At the beginning of the XXI century, in Gomel, to overcome and study the consequences of the catastrophe at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was built the Republican scientific-practical center of radiation medicine and human ecology.

The demise of the USSR and the establishment of the Republic of Belarus

July 27, 1990 adopted the Declaration on state sovereignty of the Belarusian Soviet socialist Republic, on 25 August 1991 it was given the status of constitutional law and on September 19, the BSSR was renamed into "Republic of Belarus". 26 December 1991 the USSR finally ceased to exist. Gomel - a city in the independent state of the Republic of Belarus. From that moment began a new historical stage in the development of Gomel.

In the first half of the 1990s, Gomel, like the whole of Belarus, was seized with acute socio-economic crisis: the standard of living fell sharply, the death rate began to exceed the birth rate, the volume of industrial production fell sharply, increased crime rate. Since 1996, the situation in the country and in Gomel gradually began to stabilize and improve.

Population of the city

of Gomel in 1775-2014 years

1775 5.000
1858 13.700
1880 23.600
1897 36.800
1913 104.500
1925 81.900
1931 109.900
1939 139.000
1943 less 15.000
1959 168.270
1965 218.000
1970 272.253
1975 337.000
1979 382.785
1985 465.000
1989 500.846
1992 517.000
1999 475.000
2006 479.900
2008 493.700
2010 484.300
2012 507.700
2013 514.968
2014 521.225
2015 526.873

The city's population amounted to 515.325 (2013 census).[3] This fact indicates a positive population growth and the gradual overcoming of demographic crisis, which began in 1993.

After the annexation of Gomel to the Russian Empire and the creation of the pale of settlement, Gomel is gradually becoming one of the centers of resettlement of the Jewish population of Russia. According to the 1897 census, 55% of the population of Gomel were Jews. In 1903 in Gomel there was a mass violent action against the Jewish population of the city. From that moment began a gradual reduction of the Jewish population of the city. Mass emigration of Jews from Gomel came at the end of 1980s — beginning 1990-ies.


File:Gomel. A flood on the Sozh River in park.jpg
Gomel. A flood on the Sozh River

Gomel is situated in the southeastern part of the country, on the right bank of Sozh river, 302 km (188 mi) to the South-East from Minsk, 534 km (332 mi) to the East from Brest, 171 km (106 mi) to the South from Mogilev, 237 km (147 mi) to the West from Bryansk and 111 km (69 mi) to the North from Chernihiv.

The relief of the city as a whole is flat. On the right bank of the river it is gradually decreasing plain water-glacial and fluvial terraces of the Sozh river. The left bank is low-lying alluvial plain. The slope of the relief going from north to south (the highest elevation of 144 meters above sea level on the northern outskirts of Gomel, the lowest 115 m - water boundary Sozh river.) Novobelitskiy district of Gomel, located on the left bank of the river, has elevations by an average of 10 -15 meters lower than the northern and central parts of the city.

In the flood plain on the left bank of the Sozh located many kilometers of beaches.


Climate of Gomel the moderate and continental. Warm summer and soft winter that is caused by frequent arrival of warm sea air masses from Atlantic and the dominating western transfer.

Climate data for Gomel
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 9.6
Average high °C (°F) −2.0
Daily mean °C (°F) −4.5
Average low °C (°F) −6.9
Record low °C (°F) −35.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 34
Average rainy days 8 7 10 13 14 16 14 12 14 14 13 9 144
Average snowy days 18 17 10 2 0.1 0 0 0 0.03 2 10 16 75
Average relative humidity (%) 86 83 77 66 64 69 70 71 77 81 87 88 77
Mean monthly sunshine hours 54 74 131 176 264 264 261 246 168 115 44 31 1,828
Source #1: Pogoda.ru.net[5]
Source #2: NOAA (sun only 1961–1990)[6]


Gomel. Station square
Gomel. Rush hour. Sovetskaya Street

Public transportation is represented by over 1,000 city buses and trolleybuses. Public transportation is generally inexpensive ($14 monthly). Over 210 million passenger rides were registered in 2006.[7] Taxi services ($10 for a one-way intra-city ride) are available 24 hours a day. The city is an important railroad hub in the southeastern part of Belarus being positioned midway on the Minsk-Kiev railroad link. Strategic location of Gomel near the border with Russia and Ukraine provides a direct connection to the vast railroad network.

The Gomel trolleybus network opened on 20 May 1962 and consists of 23 routes (not counting variations). On 15 December 2010 after laying the contact network through the streets of Egorenko, Sviridov and Chechersk opened new trolley line to the Terminus "Neighborhood "Klinkowski""that resulted in the change of trolleybus routes No. 9, 16, 17. The length of the street network with the transport lines is about 74 km (46 mi) and the total length of trolleybus routes - 475 km (295 mi) Rolling stock represented by machines ACSM-201, ACSM-321, ACSM-213, ACSM-101, ZIU-682. Тhe number of bus routes more than 60 total length of about 670 kilometers, for a number of routes are Express options. Rolling stock - mainly buses MAZ-105, MAZ-107, MAZ-103 and Ikarus 280 (actively write off), less presents MAZ-104, MAZ-203, MAZ-206, 2014 actively purchased buses extra large capacity, low-MAZ-215 . Express routes are bus Rodemich-A. Acts 24 minibus route the lines are mostly vans Ford Transit, GAZelle, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot.

Gomel Airport is located 8 km (5 mi) north-east from the city


To overcome the destructive consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and to improve the health of Belarusians, the state pays considerable attention to sports. Gomel has the necessary sports facilities.


Educational center

Gomel is a well-known educational center. The following universities are located in Gomel:

Since 1990, P.O. Sukhoy Homiel State Technical University and Homiel State Medical University have been attracting many international students from countries around world, including United States, Germany, China, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Iran and Latin America. Homiel State Medical University provides classes in both English and Russian. Many famous scientists work here as senior lecturers.


Because of the numerous wars affecting Gomel, the city has a small amount of the sights presented by palace and park ensemble,

Gomel. Palace and park ensemble Rumyantsev-Paskevich during the winter period. A view of ensemble from the Sozh River

pre-revolution buildings of Sovetskaya Street and buildings of the period of blossoming of the USSR on the Avenue of Lenin.


International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Gomel is twinned with:


  1. "Belarus - The regions of the Republic of Belarus as well as all cities and urban settlements of more than 10,000 inhabitants". City Population. Retrieved 11 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  4. Этимологический словарь славянских языков: праславянский лексический фонд, под ред. О.Н. Трубачева, вып.7 (Москва, 1980), стр.21.
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External links