Yelets is a city in Lipetsk Oblast
Lipetsk Oblast
Lipetsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia which was formed on January 6, 1954. Its administrative center is the city of Lipetsk...

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, situated on the Sosna River
Sosna River
Sosna is a river in Oryol and Lipetsk Oblasts in Russia. It is a right tributary of the Don, and it is 296 km long, with a drainage basin of 17 400 km². The river is usually frozen over from the end of November until the end of march....

, which is a tributary of the Don. Population:


Yelets is the oldest center of the Central Black Earth Region
Central Black Earth Region
Central Black Earth Region or Central Chernozem Region is a segment of the Eurasian chernozem belt that lies within Central Russia and comprises Voronezh Oblast, Lipetsk Oblast, Belgorod Oblast, Tambov Oblast, Oryol Oblast and Kursk Oblast...

. It is mentioned in historical documents as far back as 1146, when it belonged to the Princes of Ryazan
Ryazan is a city and the administrative center of Ryazan Oblast, Russia. It is located on the Oka River southeast of Moscow. Population: The strategic bomber base Dyagilevo is just west of the city, and the air base of Alexandrovo is to the southeast as is the Ryazan Turlatovo Airport...

. The town's position at the very south of Russian lands made it an easy prey for Turkic conquerors. The Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 burned it in 1239, Uzbeg Khan
Uzbeg Khan
Sultan Mohammed Öz-Beg, better known as Uzbeg or Ozbeg , was the longest-reigning khan of the Golden Horde, under whose rule the state reached its zenith...

 ravaged it in 1316, Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 sacked it in 1395, and the Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

 devastated it in 1414.

In 1483, the Principality of Yelets was absorbed by Muscovy, while the local Rurikid rulers (last heard of in the 19th century) entered the service of Ivan III
Ivan III of Russia
Ivan III Vasilyevich , also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus"...

. In 1591, Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov
Boris Fyodorovich Godunov was de facto regent of Russia from c. 1585 to 1598 and then the first non-Rurikid tsar from 1598 to 1605. The end of his reign saw Russia descend into the Time of Troubles.-Early years:...

 revived the largely deserted town by establishing a fortress there. In 1618, the fortress was captured "by subterfuge" by 20,000 Cossacks under Petro Konashevych
Petro Konashevych
Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachnyi, , was a Hetman of Registered Cossacks and the Kosh Otaman of Zaporozhian Host from 1601–1618, a brilliant military leader both on land and sea. While being a Cossack Hetman, he transformed the Cossack Host into a regular military formation and imparted a statist...

, allied with Wladyslaw IV of Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

. They dismantled a large part of town fortifications.

In the 19th century, Yelets became the largest trade center of the region. Handmade lace
Lace is an openwork fabric, patterned with open holes in the work, made by machine or by hand. The holes can be formed via removal of threads or cloth from a previously woven fabric, but more often open spaces are created as part of the lace fabric. Lace-making is an ancient craft. True lace was...

 has been a notable product of the city since then; other important industries are grain milling and the manufacture of machinery. The town's chief landmark is the vast Ascension Cathedral, built over the years 1845–1889 to a Neo-Muscovite design by Konstantin Thon
Konstantin Thon
Konstantin Andreyevich Thon, also spelled Ton was an official architect of Imperial Russia during the reign of Nicholas I. His major works include the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Grand Kremlin Palace and the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow....

. It is the only church by Thon to survive the Soviet years more or less intact. The town was occupied and damaged by the Nazis in 1941.

Modern Yelets

The city is connected to Moscow, Lipetsk, Oryol, and Rostov by rail and the M4 highway runs past it.

The main industries are limestone quarrying, engineering, food processing, textiles and clothing (Yelts Lace), tobacco processing, and vodka distilling.

The city has a theater, movie theaters, and several sports venues.

The Yelets State University was upgraded from an institute in 2000 and the city has eight secondary schools.
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