Yelets is a city in Lipetsk Oblast, Russia, situated on the Bystraya Sosna River, which is a tributary of the Don.
The city has a theater, movie theaters, and several sports venues.
The Yelets State University was upgraded from an institute in 2000 and the city has eight secondary schools.
Yelets is the oldest center of the Central Black Earth Region. It was mentioned in historical documents as early as 1146, when it belonged to the Princes of Ryazan. The town's position at the very south of Russian lands made it an easy prey for Turkic conquerors. The Mongols burned it in 1239, Uzbeg Khan ravaged it in 1316, Timur sacked it in 1395, and the Tatars devastated it in 1414.
In 1483, the Principality of Yelets was absorbed by the Grand Duchy of Moscow, while the local Rurikid rulers (last heard of in the 19th century) entered the service of Ivan III. In 1591, Boris Godunov
revived the largely deserted town by establishing a fortress there. In
1618, the fortress was captured "by subterfuge" by 20,000 Cossacks under Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny, allied with Wladyslaw IV of Poland. They dismantled a large part of town fortifications.
In the 19th century, Yelets became the largest trade center of the region. Handmade lace
has been a notable product of the city since then; other important
industries are grain milling and the manufacture of machinery. The
town's chief landmark is the vast Ascension Cathedral, built over the
years 1845–1889 to a Neo-Muscovite design by Konstantin Thon. The town was occupied by the German Army from December 4 to 9, 1941 and damaged during the brief occupation and Soviet offensive in the region.