Mentioned in the chronicles in 1097 as part of the Kievan state, the city became the capital of Pinsk duchy in the 13th cent. It passed to Lithuania in 1320 and to Poland in 1569. Pinsk was transferred to Russia in 1793 with the second partition of Poland; it reverted to Poland in 1921 but was ceded to the USSR in 1945. During the German occupation of World War II, the city's Jews (who had formed a majority of the population) were mostly exterminated.
Pinsk (Пінск), a town in Belarus, in the Polesia region, traversed by the river Pripyat, at the confluence of the Strumen and Pina rivers. The region is known as the Marsh of Pinsk. It is a fertile agricultural center. It lies south-west of Minsk. Population is about 130,000. The city is a small industrial center producing ships sailing the local rivers.
The historic city has a beautifully restored downtown full of two-story buildings dating from the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
The Pinsk principality had an important strategic location, between the principalities of Navahrudak and Halych-Volynia, which fought each other for other Ruthenian territories. Pinsk did not take part in this struggle, although it was inclined towards the princes of Novaharodak, which is shown by the fact that the future prince of Novaharodak and Vaisvilkas of Lithuania spent some time in Pinsk.
In 1320 Pinsk was won by the rulers of Navahrudak, who incorporated it into their state, known as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. From this time on Pinsk was ruled by Gedimin's eldest son, Narymunt. Afterwards, for the next two centuries the city had different rulers.
From 1633 on Pinsk had a secondary school, a so-called brotherhood school (the brotherhoods were religious citizens' organisations with the aim of providing education for their members and their children). During the Cossack rebellion of Bohdan Chmielnicki (1640), it was captured by Cossacks who carried out a pogrom against the city's Jewish population; the Poles retook it by assault, killing 24,000 persons and burning 5,000 houses. Eight years later the town was burned by the Russians.
In 1648, on the eve of the Russo-Polish War (1654-1667), Pinsk was occupied by Ukrainian Cossack army under commander Niababy and could only be reconquered with great difficulty by prince Janusz Radziwiłł, a high-ranking commander in the Polish-Lithuanian army. During the war between Moscow and Poland-Lithuania (1654-1667) the city suffered heavily from the attacks of the Muscovite army under Prince Volkolnsky and its allied army of Ukrainian Cossacks.
Charles XII took it in 1706, and burned the town with its suburbs. In spite of all the wars the city recovered and the town developed with the existence of a printing workshop in Pinsk from 1729-44.
Pinsk fell to the Russian Empire in 1793 in the Third Partition of Poland, became part of Poland in 1920 after the Polish-Soviet War and was incorporated into Soviet Union in 1939. At this time, the city's population was over 90% Jewish. From 1941 to 1944 it was occupied by Nazi Germany, and its Jewish population interned in concentration camps. Between 18,000 and 30,000 Jewish residents of Pinsk were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust. Ten thousand were murdered in one day. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Pinsk has belonged to the Republic of Belarus.
Two main sights of the town are lined along the river. These are the Assumption Cathedral of the monastery of the greyfriars (1712-30) with a campanile from 1817 (picture) and the Jesuit collegium (1635-48), a large Mannerist complex, whose cathedral was demolished after the World War II (picture) The foremost among modern buildings is the black-domed Orthodox cathedral of St. Theodore.