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About city Gallery Where to stay

Minsk, located near the River Svislach and home to around 2 million people, is the capital of Belarus and its largest city. Since the 14th century it has belonged to Poland and Lithuania, only to be conquered by the Russian Empire in 1793. In 1918, Minsk became a part of the Soviet Belarus, and in 1919 it was announced its capital. During the Second World War, the city was almost completely destroyed, and then rebuilt as a model Soviet settlement.

After the war, Minsk saw the construction of many Stalinist-style buildings, only a small minority of which have been restored, namely the houses of the Troicki suburb and an equal number of Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Today, Minsk is a compact, contemporary European city – tidy and clean. Furthermore, it’s the largest Belarussian transport hub and the country’s most important economic, political and science centre. Even though it can’t really be called “touristy”, it does contain most of the country’s cultural objects. Today, Minsk has more than 10 theatres and 15 museums. It’s also very green – it has 26 parks, 159 squares and roughly 30 boulevards.

A view of Minsk from the roof of the National Library
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A view of Minsk from the roof of the National Library

With independence came many tourist attractions, such as the famous Island of Tears, surrounded by the River Svislach. Its sad name and the chapel, located on the island, are meant as a tribute to all of the Belarussians who died in the Afghanistan war. All of Minsk’s newlyweds come here to ask for life. They hang locks on the bridge, pray in the exceptional chapel and throw coins into the fountain depicting a naked boy.

In 1996, a statue of Michael the Archangel was built in front of the city’s most famous church, known in the local vernacular as the Red Church. This saint, depicted piercing a dragon with his spear, is considered to be the country’s patron saint. The church itself was returned to the faithful only in 1990 – before that, it was home to a theatre and a film studio. This rare, Roman-style building is now visited by nearly every tourist passing through the capital.

Festival of medieval culture in Minsk
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Festival of medieval culture in Minsk

The Bell of Nagasaki, situated just 10 metres away from the sculpture of Michael the Archangel, is an exact replica of the Angels’ Bell, which survived atomic bombarding of Nagasaki in 1945. Belarus received the bell as a gift from Nagasaki’s Catholic community. The memorial contains capsules with soil from Jerusalem, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Belarussian neighbourhoods affected by the Disaster of Chernobyl.

Those who travelled to Minsk fifteen years ago would not be able to recognise its new railway station, built by experts from Belarus, Finland and the US. No other building in the city has such a great number of glass structures. Here you’ll also find the country’s largest heated floor area. The station can hold up to 10,000 people at any one time. The International Architect Convention, which took place in the year 2000 in Sofia, voted the city’s railway station that year’s best architectural edifice. In 2002, the people of Minsk had also rebuilt the old City Hall, which had been demolished in the 19th century.

Minsk houses from the observation deck
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Minsk houses from the observation deck

The library of Minsk is yet another ultra-modern, unique structure with an observation platform, which opens up on a breathtaking view of the capital. This city, it seems, is becoming more beautiful and modern by the minute. The only things that barely catch one’s attention here are shopping centres, of which Belarus has very few.

In 2004, the city’s pedagogical university presented a unique structure called Foucault’s Pendulum, which shows that the Earth is spinning. It’s a four-edged, 7.5-metre-tall pyramid with a ball hung on a steel cable at its centre. There are only around 20 of these structures in the whole world.

The Belarussian cuisine has managed to preserve all of its traditional cooking methods. Minsk has many restaurants, cafés and pubs that serve national dishes, many of which are made from potatoes, called “the new bread” by the locals. Of all the dishes, you simply have to try the country’s most popular food – potato pancakes. Also, don’t forget boiled potato buns, potato patties filled with meat, cabbage or cottage cheese, dried mushroom-filled baked potatoes and much more.

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