For the first time Orsha was mentioned in the "Story of the temporal ages" of 1067. After the decree of prince Vitovt a castle was built here in 1398-1407. For the first time Orsha was marked at the map of the Grand Dushy of Lithuania, Livonia and Moscow Princedom created in 1589 by M. Strubich.
In 1620 the town obtained the Magdeburg right. In XVI-XVIII centuries Orsha was a considerable religious center, many cathedrals and monasteries were built rapidly. In 1630 under the Kuteinski Baptist monastery an enlightener Spiridon Sobol was very famous, he founded the Kuteinski publishing house that was the main belarusian center for the Cyrillic book printing. In XVII century Orsha was one of the largest artistic centers in Belarus. The cutters Osip Andreev and Andrei Fedorov, the engraver Pasii, the jeweler and chaser Afanasii Volchek, armourers and artists worked there. In 1772 it became part of the Russian Empire. In 1812 the town was occupied by the French troops. A. Bale (known later as the famous writer Stendal) was appointed supply officer of Orsha. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War during the battles near Orsha 14 July 1941 for the first time the field rocket launchers "BM 13 — the famous Katiusha" were used.
Nowadays Orsha is a large administrative, economic and cultural center of the Orsha region. It is among 10 largest cities of Belarus with the population of more than 120000 people. The town industry includes the enterprises of the light industry, mechanic engineering, building materials, metalworking, alimentary and beef and dairy branches. Many historical and architectural monuments are preserved in the town. The revival of the Kuteinsky monastery began: the Holy Spirit church and the part of the monastery wall were restored.
There are 5 Orthodox churches and a Roman Catholic Church. 30 km from the town, at the left bank of the Dnepr river Kupalovsky museum — natural reserve is situated — the former dacha of the popular Belarusian poet.
Guide to towns and district centers of Republic of Belarus. A.V. Varivonchik [etc.]