Mozhaisk is closely connected with the military history of Russia. It is mentioned first in the chronicles for the siege that the troops of Novgorod laid on the city and then for its resistance during the Mongol Invasion of 1237-40. Since that time Mozhaisk was called the Shield of Moscow, as for some time it was the only fortress on the Muscovite principality on its western defense line. During the war of 1812 Mozhaisk came to the center of military operations, despite the fact that before then the city had almost lost its strategic significance because of the expansion of the Moscow state's boundaries. It was near Mozhaisk that in 1812 the first Russian guerilla detachment under Denis Davydov began operating. During World War II Mozhaisk became the strong point of one of the most important strategic lines of the Western Front. In the city itself as well as in its surroundings bitter fighting took place. "I've come here to defend the Borodino battlefield!" declared Colonel Polosukhin, the commander of the Far Eastern infantry division. For six days and nights his soldiers held the line near Borodino without sleeping a wink. Today the fortifications erected in the area during the two wars are completely restored to their original design. This majestic memorial embraces about 200 monuments and relics of fortification architecture. Mozhaisk is 12 km from Borodino, the most sacred place in Russia. The city is dominated by the Cathedral of St Nicholas built during the reign of Ivan IV.


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