Gomel, the second largest city after
, is located in the south eastern part of Belarus, in the same area that was once the centre of the atomic energy disaster at
. It is one of the oldest towns in the country and although it served as a fortified military stronghold in the 15th and 16th century, it is not of great historical importance. At the beginning of the 19th century many of its original wooden houses where replaced by brick ones, leaving only a few remnants of the classicist architectural influence, such as the the Rumyantsev-Paskevich Palace.
At present, the economy is slowly recovering again, not in the least because of the impact of the Chernobyl disaster and the fall of the former Soviet Union.