Homyel', also known as Gomel' and Homel', is the capital city of Homyel' region and the second city in Belarus after Minsk by population. It is situated in the southeast of the country close to Russia and Ukraine.
Homyel' was first mentioned in as early as 1019. It obtained the privileges of town in 1670 - the last among the main Belarussian cities. In the 14-18th centuries, it had alternately come under Lithuanian, Polish and Russian rule until was ceded to Russian Empire in 1772. In 1796 Catherine the Great presented Homyel' to count Piotr Rumyantsev. After Rumyantsev's death the city came into possession of general-fieldmarshal Ivan Pashkevich. Rumyantsev started and Pashkevich completed The Palace and The Park which form a historical center of Homyel' nowadays. In the end of the 19th century, new railway lines were build through the city and it has become a major railway junction. Homyel' was severely impacted during the WWI and WWII.
Today Homyel' is an industrial center in Belarus. Due to Chernobyl' disaster and the city's being close to the contaminated areas, many people migrated to other cities, mainly to Minsk. In the last 15 years, its population decreased from more than 500,000 to present 480,000 residents.
The most remarkable piece of historical and architectural heritage in Homyel' is the ensemble of Rumyantsev-Pashkevich Palace, which includes The Palace itself, Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, The Chapel and The Park. The complex of 18-storey buildings along Rechitskoye Shosse, 14-storey House of Communications, 12-storey Homyel'-Raton Headquarters are the main architectural dominants in Homyel'. There are several 15, 14 and 12-storey buildings in the new neighborhoods, but 5 and even 2 and 3-storey buildings are the most typical ones in the central part of the city.