Belarus: history of the people between Russia and Europe

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Main facts:

  • Caputal city: Minsk

  • Language(s): Belarusian, Russian

  • Currency: Belarusian Ruble, Br

  • Population: 9,492,000

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religion: Orthodoxy (68%)

  • Standard of living (subjectively): medium

Top 10 interesting places and activities:

Approximate costs (person/day):

~€ 15-30

~€ 1-3

~€ 7-10

~€ 4-12

Sights map of Belarus

Travel around Belarus

Belarus country meets you with Slavic hospitality, Soviet heritage and pride of the military past. In the modern territorial structure, the state has existed since 1919, when the Belorusian SSR was formed during the division of the territories of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth between Lithuania, Poland and the Russian Empire. In fact, Belarus owes its appearance and development to the Soviet Union, which, thanks to the accession of the territories of Western Belarus, formed a new socialist republic and gave impetus to the development of these territories. The official language is Belarusian, but at the same time, the entire population speaks excellent Russian, which is also used in official documentation. In general, it is very interesting to look at a bilingual country, where the national language is so little common compared to the current "foreign". The main part of communication and trade signs is in Russian, but signs on houses are in Belarusian ... verbally Russian-speaking citizens understand everything, but in writing - not always.

Since Belarus throughout its history, especially in the last century, has been a territory of constant military conflicts, very few historical sites have survived here. Agrarian complexes today occupy most of the country, there are several nature reserves and national parks (the most famous is Bialowieza Forest, on the border with Poland). But among the rare beautiful places in the republic a special place is occupied by fortresses and castles, reminiscent of the military past of these places. Perhaps the most famous is the Brest Fortress, located near the town of Brest on the border with Poland. It was here that the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany began, it was here that brave Soviet soldiers heroically held up their defenses, and it was here that an incredible feat of arms was accomplished. Today the Brest Fortress is a Memorial where everything reminds of the terrible events of that time. The Brest Fortress deserves a special long visit, for the sake of the beautiful memorials and museums in memory of the great feat of Soviet soldiers who gave their lives to save thousands of others ...

Belarus is a hospitable land that has long stood on the rails of capitalism, but where people are still trying to live by the precepts of the Soviet Union. Good human qualities: kindness, sincerity, valor; cleanliness on the streets, restored buildings, excellent roads and excellent public transport speaks of a good level of public policy. Despite a long common history with Russia, the republic seeks to preserve the little that remains of its long-standing national heritage - partly Polish, partly Lithuanian, partly its own. For example, many Orthodox churches in Minsk were built during the times of Polish rule, when local residents professed Catholicism, which is very different from the Russian Orthodox canons of architecture. Another example is the ancient historical castles, built by the Lithuanian princes Radzivills and included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site today. There are Mir and Nesvizh castles. Although it is officially considered that both castles were built as county estates, looking at their massive defense complexes, it is difficult to imagine the absence of plans for the participation of castles in battles. The castles are located at a distance of 30 km from each other, but their architectural difference speaks not only about different owners, but also about different construction milestones.

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The Mir Castle, built at the beginning of the 16th century, is a sample of the unique Belarusian Gothic, at the same time resembling a real defensive fortress and a pathetic palace. It is hard to believe, but most of their history Belarusians were Catholics, because they were ruled by Poles and Lithuanians. This explains the small number of Orthodox buildings (the majority of modern Orthodox parishes are located in former churches), as well as many Gothic buildings in the preserved historical buildings. This is a military fortification that participated in all wars in the territory of Belarus. Its five towers around the perimeter with a height of 25-27 meters served defensive purposes; inside it was located the garrison of the personal army of the Radzivills princes, and the dug system of underground passages allowed carrying out fraudulent maneuvers during the siege. In the 16-17 centuries, it was one of the most developed military fortresses in Central Europe. The Nesvizh Castle is located nearby, which was built at the end of the 16th century and is more like a palace in its structure than the first one. Although fortifications were also created here — the rampart, deep moat, defensive and high brick walls — this castle really was the estate of the rulers of these places. It housed the princely chambers, rooms for receiving guests, the residence of the archbishop and even the palace gardens. The entrance to the castle is carried out on a suspension bridge over a moat, which makes it almost impregnable during a medieval attack. Of course, with the development of military equipment, the castle increasingly lost its military purpose, eventually turning into a princely palace. But the army past left an indelible imprint on its appearance and interior decoration. You can visit both castles in one day, but for doing this you need to either have a car, or take a tour, or find a public transport.

In addition to these castles, there are still many historical sites worth visiting. So, this is the beautiful Kosava Castle in the village of Kossovo, ancient castles in Lida and Kreva, as well as ancient Catholic monasteries in almost all major cities of Belarus.

It is impossible to go to Belarus and not to visit Minsk - the largest and most beautiful city of the republic, which is literally the living embodiment of the power and wealth of the Soviet Union! It was even assigned the epithet "The City of the Sun" - in honor of the numerous "sunrises" and "sunsets" that it is experienced in the history. In the period between the World Wars, Minsk was a city of great importance for Soviet Union, and therefore it developed and built up greatly. Here you can see a lot of monuments of constructivism, which was very common in the times of the early and middle USSR. The most monumental is considered to be the Palace of the Republic on Lenin Square - the newly formed center of the city, where all the main administrative buildings are located. The only exception is the Presidential Administration of Belarus, located further along Independence Avenue. For the most part, the city was built during the Soviet era, and therefore the most beautiful buildings here repeat the architecture of the city center of Moscow - ancient columns, monumental buildings with tall arches, theaters and museums in the form of palaces, as well as adorable "Gate of Minsk" right outside the railway station. At night, the city is illuminated with golden light - an incredible sight, worthy of a long and solemn contemplation.

 

Minsk is a very beautiful city. Here are wide avenues, clean sidewalks, tall buildings in the Soviet monumental style, beautiful theaters and Orthodox churches (in former Catholic churches). The famous Trinity Suburb, the historical district in the center of Minsk was left unchanged as a living monument of the ancient heritage. Around the district there are a lot of modern buildings: huge residential neighborhoods, like which there are not even in Moscow! More and more people are moving to Minsk from the outside, and therefore the city is very actively built up with huge high-rise residential complexes. The city center for the most part remained for 10-15 storey buildings, but closer to the outskirts you can see the spiers of 30-40 storey buildings.

Minsk is the city of military glory, a hero-city. Here a lot of things remind of the great victory of Soviet soldiers over the Nazi invaders. Everywhere you can see the victory steles, large inscriptions on the buildings “Victory” and “Glory”, there are several memorials and big Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Perhaps the most famous monument is the stela of Victory on Independence Square, where the Eternal Flame burns and the inscription “The feat of the people is immortal” shines on the buildings behind.

Today Minsk is a very beautiful and prosperous city, where you can find many excellent places for recreation and entertainment! But do not stop at the capital of the republic - be sure to go to the bright and interesting surroundings that will surprise even the most skeptical tourist. Just visit the museums of folk crafts and peasant architecture of Belarusians in the villages of Strochitsy and Dudutki! And what a soulful forests and lakes are located outside the cities... Undoubtedly, Belarus is a cozy and pleasant place where you can spend a weekend or a whole month, and every day will be special.

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