Belgorod region: "white" mountains, steppes and tanks

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Main facts:

  • Administrative center: Belgorod

  • Federal District: Central

  • Language(s): Russian

  • Population: 1,549,000

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religion: Orthodoxy

Top 10 attractions:

Sights map of Belgorod region

Travel around Belgorod region

The history of the Belgorod region is not full of great events that turned the fate of generations. On this territory most of the time there were rare settlements of northerners, Alans, and later - Don Cossacks. In fact, until the beginning of the 16th century, the whole territory between the Dniester and Don was wild and undeveloped - here stretched endless steppe expanses with rare deciduous forests. The territory of the Belgorod region (“Belogorye”) was annexed to the Moscow principality in 1500, and since then the first large settlements have begun to develop here. By the end of the 16th century, fortresses were founded here (including Stary Oskol and Belgorod) to protect the territories from the raids of the Crimean Tatars, Nogais and other folks from the west of Europe.

From the moment when the territories begans to protect by the Russian troops, and the weakening of the Crimean Khanate led to the possibility of a safe life, agriculture and industry began to actively develop in these lands. The first limestone mining factories were founded here: the surrounding mountains are full of chalk deposits, for which this territory was named "Belogorye" - "white mountains". Grain crops were grown on the territory of Belogorye, orchards and vegetable growing flourished, dairy products were produced. By the end of the 18th century, the territory of the Russian Empire already had large territories in the south, including Ukraine and west part of Belarus, as a result, the Belgorod province was divided between neighboring provinces in Ukraine and Russia (Kursk and Voronezh). After the First World War and the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the territory of the Belgorod region became part of the Kharkov province, but the subsequent cancellation of the treaty returned the territory to the RSFSR.

 

Perhaps the most significant event in the history of the Belgorod region took place during the Second World War, when, during the Soviet offensive in 1943, a large-scale tank battle took place near the village of Prokhorovka, which played a crucial role in driving the Nazis out of the way and advancing Soviet troops to the west.  It went down in history as "Prokhorovka tank battle" and became one of the first significant victories of the USSR over Hitler's Germany, followed by the Soviet offensive in the direction of Kharkov and Belarus. In honor of the victory, a magnificent belfry was erected near the village of Prokhorovka, and a museum dedicated to the battle was built nearby. Today, the belfry, the museum "Prokhorovka Field", the museum "The Third Battlefield of Russia" and the tank exposition are parts of the Prokhorovka Field reserve complex, which is visited by all amateurs and experts in the history of military exploits of Russia and the USSR.

In 1954, the Belgorod region was formed, which included parts of the territories of the neighboring Kursk and Voronezh regions. Since then, the Belgorod region has existed in its modern borders, continuing to be one of the leaders in the production of agricultural products and limestone in Russia.

Traveling around the Belgorod region is impossible without visiting several main historical places. First of all, this is the most famous event in this territory - the Prokhorovka tank battle, which honor is preserved in the Prohorovka museum. Visit it is a must-see point for everyone who wants to know the history of the region. For those who are interested in even more ancient history, I advise to visit the Krapiven and Dmitriev old settlements, which date back to the 5-8th century ad. and represent a hilly elevation, on which stood the settlements of the ancient northerners and the Don Cossacks. Today, nothing is left of them except the earthen ramparts. Who wants to be inspired by the vastness of the steppe landscapes, I highly recommend visiting the “Kamenny Log” beam, which is located not far from Belgorod and is an excellent example of the nature of central Russia. And if you want to see the mineral, because of which the region got its name - then go explore the environs of Belgorod and Novy Oskol, around which the real chalk mountains rise. Chalk is limestone deposits that formed from sedimentary rocks of the ancient ocean, billions of years ago stretched in these places. Today, the Belgorod region (as well as the neighboring Voronezh region) are the most beautiful places in Russia and Europe, where you can observe high (up to 100 m) chalk mountains humbly standing above the boundless expanses of steppe.

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However, you can not visit the Belgorod region without visiting its administrative center - the city of Belgorod. Today it is a model of an actively developing city, which has everything for a relaxing holiday and cultural tourism. Here are clean streets and well-kept parks, many hostels and hotels for any taste, several large historical museums and an art gallery (located on the same square). For peace and pacification, go to Victory Central Park, to the newly reconstructed embankment, or to South Park, where you can also enjoy modern wooden architecture represented by the Church of Faith, Hope, Love and their mother Sophia. I strongly advise you to walk from Victory Park to South Park through the pedestrian "smile bridge" (a local piece of art), then you can still visit the observation deck near the monument "Knyaz Vladimir", which offers a breathtaking panorama of the city. Belgorod is really a "white city", and not only because of the chalk mountains around it, but also because the uniform color style in the modern buildings is observed - everything is white!

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The center of the city is a sample of typical Soviet buildings, but it is still beautifully built and kept clean and tidy. On the central square opposite to each other are the House of Soviets (regional administration), the "Belgorod" hotel, the clock house and the drama theater. Not far from it are located the beautiful Smolensky and Preobrazhensky cathedrals, to visit or at least to see it is an obligatory part of the excursion around Belgorod. The main promenade of the city is Narodny boulevard, which extends through half of the city and is the focal point of the cultural and leisure life of the city: here are shopping malls, several theaters, restaurants and cinemas; in general, everything you need to rest.

And now I tell you something about what you will not read from any tourist guide. Belgorod is located on the border with Ukraine; from the main city of the region to the neighboring country is only 40 km away, and therefore one can often hear Ukrainian speech here, and the local dialect has a distinctive national accent. The main flow of people and goods to Ukraine and from it to Russia goes through Belgorod, and therefore a large amount of goods from there can be found here. Belgorod is truly a city of Russians and Ukrainians, who make up to 80% of the total population here. But it would be more correct to say that Belgorod is a city of migrants. And not external, from abroad, but internal. It turns out that a huge number of workers come to this city from the Russian far north, especially from Norilsk, who have relatives here or in neighboring Ukraine. As a result, Belgorod becomes a point that combines proximity to Ukraine (the opportunity to see relatives), availability of work and high wages (compared to Ukraine and neighboring regions of Russia), as well as a mild favorable climate (compared to the extreme north or south). All this contributes to a large internal migration into the region, especially for those who have already earned their retirement on a rotational income in the north or want to move from Ukraine to Russia. Today in Belgorod you can meet a huge number of people who came here from Norilsk or Ukraine, and the good condition of housing and transport infrastructure, cultural and leisure sphere and ecology (the city has been repeatedly recognized as the best in ecology in Russia) determine their choice in favor of life here.

Belgorod is actively developing and building. Here are a large number of people arriving from neighboring Ukraine and from the extreme north of Russia. The city has high salaries, excellent infrastructure and excellent tourist potential. I recommend everyone to visit here and see everything with their own eyes. In addition, the wide steppes and the chalk mountains of the Belgorod region are objects of real admiration, turning into adoration.

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