The town of Beshenkovichi is the center of the region. First mentioned in chronicles and archives in the 15th century, the small town on the bank of the Western Dvina River was owned by the Sapiegas, the Oginskis and the Khreptovichis. A lot of historical events have taken place in Beshenkovichi. As a place of the Russian troops’ cantonment, Peter the Great visited Beshenkovichi three times. In March 1708, the Russian-Polish Military Council held a session there. In honour of this event Oginski started the construction of an Orthodox church (did not survive).
In 1634, Beshenkovichi was granted the Magdeburg Right. At the beginning of the 20th century, Beshenkovichi became the center of a volost (region). Since 1785 Beshenkovichi was known as one of the big trading centers. During the war of 1812, a garrison of the French troops was quartered in the town. The Staff of the Emperor Napoleon Army was headquartered in the town for several days. In September 1812, Emperor Alexander I visited Beshenkovichi to inspect the Russian guards quartered there.
The main sights of the Beshenkovichi region are the Khreptovich Family Palace and Park (late 17th century – early 19th century). The palace hosted Emperor Napoleon and later on Emperor Alexander I. As for other specimens of the architecture, these are the Church of St. Elijah (the 2nd half of the 19th century) in the town of Beshenkovichi, the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (the 2nd half of the 19th century) in the village of Dobrigory, a park in the village of Bocheikovo, the Church of Holy Trinity in the village of Ulla.
From July 3, 1941 to June 26, 1944, the region was occupied by the Nazis. During World War II, 10.276 residents of the Beshenkovichi region were killed. According to the statistical data, the pre-war population of the region was around 53 thousand people. The post-war population was as small as 15 thousand.
The natives of the Beshenkovichi region such as M.A. Vysogorets, I.I. Strochko, M.N. Tkachenko, L.M. Dovator, K.A. Abazovsky, P.M. Romanov were bestowed the high title of the Heroes of the Soviet Union for their contribution to the victory. Some 160 soldiers were awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union for the feats during the liberation of the region from the Nazis. More than three thousand soldiers and officers were killed in the course of the Beshenkovichi region liberation campaign. Among them were 24 Heroes of the Soviet Union and eight of them were buried in the Communal Grave of the Memorial Compound Uzrechje.
The Khreptovich Family Palace
The Khreptovich Family Palace, which survives till present days, is famous for hosting Emperor Napoleon and later on Emperor Alexander I. The palace includes three buildings: a two-storied central one, where all major halls and chambers were located, and two one-level wings used for residential purposes.
The architecture of the palace built at the end of the 18th century does not have a portico, a traditional element for the Early Classicism style. On the whole, the main faзade of the palace is flat. The main dйcor elements are a tracery balcony on the second floor, small eaves and plain niches.
Not far away from the palace there used to be a hothouse for flowers and household facilities (some of them survive). There also used to be a park with lime, poplar, birch, chestnut, maple, ash and oak alleys, a swan pond and moon-shaped pond. There was another, regular-shaped, pond with an isle and a pavilion.
Church of St. Elijah
The church is a high-rise building clearly seen from the opposite bank of the Western Dvina River. The church with a hipped roof stands out against a background of low-rise buildings.