Considering very important strategic location of Smolensk for the defense of the western borders of Russia, the town absolutely needed very strong defensive fortifications. It was for this reason that very strong fortified walls were erected not around the Kremlin, as in many other Russian towns, but around the entire town.
The first wooden wall was built in Smolensk already in 12 century under Prince Rostislav Mstislavovich. Later the town was owned by the Poles. They built additional earth ramparts. In 1514 Smolensk was included in the Duchy of Moscow and in 1554, under Ivan the Terrible, a new stronger wooden wall was built.
However, already in 1596, under Tsar Vasiliy IV Shuyskiy, the construction of a very strong stone wall of 6.5 km was started. It surrounded the area of 2.7 sq. km. The construction was supervised by Fyodor Kon. Several years earlier this architect built the stone walls of the Moscow Kremlin.
The height of the walls was between 13 and 19 meters. And the thickness of the walls in places reached 5 meters. The walls had 40 towers. Some towers were round and the other were square. The Frolovskaya (Dneprovskaya) Tower, on the northern side of the town, and the Molokhovskaya Tower, on the southern side of the town, were the main gate towers of Smolensk.
Most of the fortified walls and towers were destroyed by the retreating troops of Napoleon on October 5, 1812. In 19 century the fortified walls already lost their defensive importance, so it was decided not to restore them. To our days there survived only 18 towers and about 3 kilometers of the fortified walls in different places.
To see the strength of the walls, as well as admire the panorama of the city from the hills, one should go to Timiryazev Street. The best preserved western part of the wall is located there. The Eagle (Gorodetskaya) Tower is on the top of the hill. From this round tower one can climb onto the fortified walls. The fortified wall was partially preserved in the south of the historical center of Smolensk. It runs along the Heroes Memory Public Garden and the Lopatinskiy Garden, as well as along the embankment of Dnieper.