Volokolamsk (Russian: Волокола́мск) is a town and the administrative center of Volokolamsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, located on the Gorodenka River, not far from its confluence with the Lama River, 129 kilometers (80 mi) northwest of Moscow. Population: 23,433 (2010 Census); 16,656 (2002 Census); 18,226 (1989 Census).
Volokolamsk was first mentioned in the Voskresensk Chronicle under the year 1135. The town was built by Novgorodian merchants on a five-kilometer portage (Russian: Волок) on a waterway from Novgorod to Moscow and Ryazan. Hence, the name Volokolamsk (Volok on the Lama=Volokolamsk). The town remained the southernmost enclave of the Novgorod Republic until 1398.
In 1178, Volok on the Lama was burnt by Vsevolod the Big Nest, who added it to Vladimir-Suzdal lands. His son Yaroslav II restored it to Novgorod in 1231. After the Mongol invasion of Rus’, the town was divided into two parts, one of them assigned to Novgorod and another one — to the Grand Dukes of Vladimir. The Principality of Tver failed to take it in 1273.
Ivan Kalita presented his part of the town to the boyar Rodion Nestorovich, who presently wrested the other part from Novgorod. In 1345, Simeon the Proud gave Volkolamsk to his father-in-law, one of Smolensk princes. While in possession of Smolensk, the town withstood a three-months siege by Algirdas (1371). Vladimir the Bold defeated Tokhtamysh near Volokolamsk in 1383. Soon thereafter, it reverted to Novgorod.
In 1398, Vasily I definitively incorporated Volokolamsk into the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Ten years later, it was granted for two years to Švitrigaila, who had just defected to Moscow. Having lost its Hanseatic trade and connections with Novgorod, the town declined and was not mentioned by any sources for the next half a century. It was in 1462, when Volokolamsk was given by Ivan III to his younger brother, that the town became the seat of a full-scale appanage principality. Its first prince erected the single-domed limestone Resurrection Cathedral, which still stands. Another prince was Andrey Volotsky; the chief monument from his reign is the three-domed cathedral of the Vyazmischi Cloister (1535).
In 1613, Volokolamsk braved a siege by Sigismund III Vasa, an event which led to the town’s fortifications being represented on its coat of arms. By that time, Volokolamsk had been associated primarily with the Lavra of St. Joseph of Volokolamsk, situated 17 kilometers (11 mi) northeast of the town.
The Soviet authority in Volokolamsk was established in late October 1917. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945, a number of violent clashes between the German and Soviet troops and partisans took place near Volokolamsk. The town was under German occupation from October 27 to December 30, 1941. In November 1941, twenty-eight Soviet soldiers of the 316th rifle division managed to disable eighteen enemy tanks 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) from Volokolamsk right before they reached the Volokolamsk-Moscow highway.