1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kovno (town)

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KOVNO, a town and fortress of Russia, capital of the government of the same name, stands at the confluence of the Niemen with the Viliya, 550 m. S.W. of St Petersburg by rail, and 55 m. from the Prussian frontier. Pop. (1863), 23,937; (1903), 73,743, nearly one-half being Jews. It consists of a cramped Old Town and a New Town stretching up the side of the Niemen. It is a first-class fortress, being surrounded at a mean distance of 21/2 m. by a girdle of forts, eleven in number. The town lies for the most part in the fork and is guarded by three forts in the direction of Vilna, one covers the Vilna bridge, while the southern approaches are protected by seven. Kovno commands and bars the railway Vilna-Eydtkuhnen. Its factories produce nails, wire-work and other metal goods, mead and bone-meal. It is an important entrepôt for timber, cereals, flax, flour, spirits, bone-meal, fish, coal and building-stone passing from and to Prussia. The city possesses some 15th-century churches. It was founded in the 11th century; and from 1384 to 1398 belonged to the Teutonic Knights. Tsar Alexis of Russia plundered and burnt it in 1655. Here the Russians defeated the Poles on the 26th of June 1831.