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This most important city in the west of Russia was founded in 863, a bit later than Velikiy Novgorod (859) and Kiev (854). The city is located on the bank of the Dnieper, Kiev is also located on this river. Such a convenient location made it possible for Smolensk to be-come the key city on the trade route from the Byzantine Empire to Scandinavia. The other important Russian cities, such as Moscow and Vladimir, were founded much later.