As to annals, for the first time Brest (initially Berestje) was mentioned in "The Story of time years" in 1019. Vladimir Monomove recollects campaigns against Berestje in his "Lecture". Berestje had been the first Belarusian town to obtain the right of self-management under the Magdeburg law and this right was repeatedly reconfirmed. Since 1413 Berestje had become the centre of the Berestejskoye place as part of the Troksky district. It had been the centre of workmanship and trade. In XIV—XV centuries Berestje had been one of the largest towns in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and had been officially considered one of the main towns of the princedom. In 1553 N. Radzivill the Black, the town head of Brest, organized here a kalvinskij sbor (temple) and one of the first publishing houses in Belarus where a kaniyanal, song-book with notes, was published for the first time in the Eastern Europe in 1558, followed in five years' time by "The Bible" of Berestje. Since 1566 Brest had become the centre of the Brest district. An orthodox school had been established here at the end of the XVI century where the educator named Lavrentij Zizanij was one of the first teachers.
The town hosted seyms and congresses of Belarusian and Polish magnates. Here the Brest Union of 1596 — the unification of the Orthodox and Catholic churches on the territory of the Rzeczpospolita — was announced. In 1795 the town became part of the Russian empire and was renamed into Brest-Litovsk. An important military and strategic location of Brest-Litovsk on the West of Russia was the reason for constructing the Brest Fortress. According to the Peace Treaty of Riga of 1921 Brest-Litovsk as part of Western Belarus went to Poland and was renamed into Brest-upon-Boug. From September, 17 1939 it had become part of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. On the 22nd of June, 1941 Brest was one of the first towns to stand in the gap of German fascist invaders. For many days (from June, 22 to the end of July, 1941), while displaying unexampled courage and heroism, the garrison of the Brest Fortress offered resistance to the enemy that considerably outnumbered the garrison.
Today Brest is a big administrative, industrial, transportation and cultural centre. The industrial potential of the town is predominantly focused on production of consumer goods. The produce of certain enterprises is unique and has no analogues in the Republic. First of all, these are gas stoves and electric bulbs of various modifications as well as the produce of the light industry. The industry of the town has a considerable exporting potential for its products are being on sale in more than 40 countries, including Russia, Italy, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands. In 1997 a free economic zone was established for the first time in the Republic in the town of Brest. Brest has a glorious historical past of which evidence are 144 historical and cultural monuments in its streets and squares.
Guide to towns and district centers of Republic of Belarus. A.V. Varivonchik [etc.]