Beautiful, majestic and full of air, the hero-city of Minsk hospitably opens its doors.
Who and why goes to Minsk
During the Great Patriotic War, the German invaders razed the capital of Belarus to the ground, so the ancient architecture was practically not preserved here.
The latest development is the beginning of the 50s and remodels that successfully imitate the old days. However, there is also something to see here. Orthodox churches, churches and theaters deserve special attention, the architecture of which is closely intertwined with the Stalinist Empire style and baroque luxury.
Museums keep the memory of ancestors and tell about important milestones in the history of the country. Exhibitions dedicated to World War II will be of interest to those who are fond of military history.
Green parks and squares are also among the sights of Minsk. Well-groomed and clean, they are suitable for family holidays and romantic walks.
The snow-white building of the town hall is a copy of a similar building of the 17th century. The original was demonstratively blown up in the 19th century by order of Emperor Nicholas I after the abolition of the Magdeburg city law. This document gave broad powers to the local mayor’s office.
The idea to restore the historically significant building appeared in the 70s, but its implementation took place only in 2004.
On the first floor of the town hall there is an exhibition dedicated to the Belarusian capital. Its pearl is a realistic model of the central part of Minsk in the 19th century. Administrative offices are located on the second floor, and the town hall itself is surrounded by a picturesque square.
Palace of the Republic
The design of the Palace of the Republic for holding ceremonial and cultural events began in 1976. The construction of the building began much later, but the project had to be “frozen” due to lack of funding. In 1997, the Palace was solemnly opened, but finishing work continued for several more years.
The facade is decorated with two types of granite, inside — marble, a huge amount of greenery, mirrors and pompous crystal chandeliers. The ceremonial hall can accommodate up to 2,700 spectators. A granite pyramid is installed in front of the palace — a conditional marker of the zero kilometer of Belarus, from where the countdown of the distances of the country’s roads begins.
The library was designed by V. Kramarenko in 1988, but then the project was considered too futuristic and construction was postponed for 18 years. The beautiful rhombicuboctahedron-shaped building has been included in architecture textbooks and lists of the most unusual buildings in the world.
The library building is the largest book depository in the world. Its height is almost 74 m, and the area is more than 400 thousand square meters. m. Each floor can fit 2 football fields. Under the very dome in the «crystal» is an observation deck.
Palace of Independence
The Art Nouveau building was built in 2013. Now it is the residence of the President. All official and solemn events are held here, including receptions of heads of foreign states.
Facade decoration is different. The main one, located on the western side, is decorated with glass with national ornaments. On the central pilaster there is an image of the coat of arms of Belarus.
A large staircase begins in the hall — it leads to the upper floors, where more than a hundred rooms for various purposes are located. Among them are a press center, a museum with gifts to the president and a winter garden.
House of the Government of the Republic of Belarus
The administrative complex was erected on Independence Square in 1934 in the style of constructivism that was relevant for that time. The giant building appeared in the area of the old wooden buildings and marked the beginning of the renewal of the central part of the capital.
It is noteworthy that the Government House was built almost by hand, without the use of large equipment. The wings of the building form a courtyard, in the middle of which stands a monument to V. I. Lenin.
Gostiny Dvor is located on Independence Square. 18th century building repeatedly modified, reconstructed and even combined with neighboring buildings. Its facade is eclectic: modern, classic and art deco are intertwined here.
In the 18th-19th centuries, shops, shops, and a hotel were located in Gostiny Dvor. Later, a merchant club and a bank branch appeared here. During the war, the building was badly damaged and was practically not used. The restoration was carried out in the early 2000s.
«Gate of Minsk»
The architectural complex on Railway Station Square is a reference embodiment of the Stalinist Empire style. Gates of Minsk consists of two symmetrical 11-story towers that adjoin 5-story buildings. One tower is decorated with a giant trophy clock (3.5 m) and the emblem of the USSR, the second — with sculptures of a worker, a collective farmer, a soldier and an engineer.
Theaters in Minsk
Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater
The building in the constructivist style began to be built back in 1934. The project was repeatedly revised in the direction of reducing costs and, finally, opened to the general public — almost before the Second World War, giving it the status of «big».
During the war, the building was seriously damaged. But during the subsequent reconstruction, a park appeared around the theater, and later the building received an unusual helmet-shaped roof.
Yanka Kupala Theater
The oldest theater in Belarus was opened in 1920, becoming the successor to the Minsk provincial theater. The very same building in the classical style with porticos, columns and balustrades was built in 1890 with donations from patrons.
National Drama Theatre. M. Gorky
The National Theater was founded in the 1930s, but it did not immediately settle in Minsk. Because of the war, Bobruisk, and then Grodno, became the temporary home of the theater group. In 1947, the theater returned to Minsk, and later began to bear the name of Maxim Gorky.
Today, performances are played in the building of the former choral synagogue, which was expropriated by the Soviet authorities immediately after the revolution. The theater gained great fame due to its good acoustics, because the building was originally designed for singing.
National Art Museum
This is the largest museum not only in Minsk, but in the whole republic. It was founded in 1939, but most of the exhibits were lost during the war years. After the end of World War II, the government allocated funds for the formation of a new fund and the construction of a new building.
In 1957 the museum opened its doors again. 3 thousand exhibits were presented in its exposition. Funds were actively formed during the 70-80s, and today the museum has more than 27 thousand pieces of art, divided into six collections.
National History Museum
The museum is housed in a former bank building built at the beginning of the 20th century. The first exhibition opened in 1923 and consisted of five collections: ethnographic, archaeological, historical, artistic and natural sciences. During the war, almost the entire fund was destroyed, so it had to be created anew. Today, the historical museum stores more than 500 thousand items related to the history and culture of the country.
All halls are arranged in chronological order so that visitors can get acquainted with the centuries-old history of the country — from the early Middle Ages to the present day. It also houses the largest numismatic collection in Eastern Europe and unique weapons from the time of the Commonwealth.
Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War
The museum began to be created in 1942 during the occupation in order to raise the fighting and morale of the Soviet people. All important documents were sent to Moscow, where they were kept in a special fund. The first exposition opened in Minsk in 1944 in one of the surviving buildings.
Later, the Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War moved to a new building on the central square of the capital. In 1977, an open-air exposition with military equipment was launched. The total area of the exhibition is more than 3000 sq.m. The funds contain over 145 thousand items, but only about 8 thousand artifacts are exhibited.
More recently, another building was built, which became part of the Pobeda museum and park ensemble. It consists of four blocks dedicated to each year of the war — all blocks are united by the War Road gallery.
The grandiose military-historical open-air museum was created for the 60th anniversary of the Victory of the Soviet people over the fascist invaders. The fortification ensemble consists of pillboxes, fortifications, a command and observation post and military equipment.
This is a great place for a family holiday. An artificial lake has been created on the territory of the complex, where you can ride a boat, there is a cafe that serves real soldier’s porridge. Anyone can practice at the shooting range and get the Voroshilov Rifleman badge.
The ethnographic museum settled in the suburbs of the capital. Its name was formed from two words: the name of the estate «Dudichi» and the national instrument — duda.
Guests are invited to plunge into the atmosphere of a provincial estate. There is a windmill, a pottery, a forge, a bakery, a stable and a brewery. For younger visitors there is a small zoo.
The cafe serves delicious dishes of Belarusian cuisine. There are souvenir shops. If you want to stay longer in Dudutki, you can book a room in the local hotel.
Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The snow-white Catholic Cathedral stands on Freedom Square. Built in the 18th century, it was part of a Jesuit monastery. The building was badly damaged during the war, the Soviet authorities also demolished two towers, and the rest of the building was converted into a gym.
In the late 1990s, the gradual restoration of the cathedral began, and it was returned to its historical appearance. Today it is the main decoration of the Upper City and the main Catholic church of the country.
Cathedral of the Descent of the Holy Spirit
The main Orthodox church in Belarus is located in the building of the former monastery of Kosma and Demyan. In the 17th century, the Polish authorities transferred the building to the Bernardine Order. The cathedral became Orthodox again only in the 19th century. After the revolution, church services were stopped, but in 1942 the temple again began to receive parishioners and was no longer closed.
Its main shrine is the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, which arrived in Minsk from the Peter and Paul Cathedral during the war. The relics of Sophia Slutskaya, princess, patroness of Orthodox monasteries, are also kept here.
The Church of St. Simeon and St. Helena, also known as the Red Church, is one of the main attractions of the Belarusian capital. The scarlet brick building was built with the money of the entrepreneur and philanthropist Edward Voynilovich. He wanted to perpetuate the memory of his dead children Alena and Simon.
The building is notable for its 50-meter tower, consisting of four tiers, which is crowned by a bell tower. An active organ is installed inside. The ceilings and walls are decorated with frescoes, and the stained-glass windows create a special atmosphere. In front of the entrance there is a monument to Alena and Simon by Sigmund Otto.
Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
The oldest church in Minsk, built at the beginning of the 17th century, is an architectural monument protected by the state. In the 18th century, Empress Catherine allocated funds for its restoration. The following restoration work took place in the second half of the 19th century.
In the 1930s, the cathedral was closed, the building was turned into an archive, and later — even into a residential building. Services resumed only in the 1990s. Now the inner vaults are again painted with skillful frescoes, and the icon of the Three Vilna Martyrs has become the main shrine of the cathedral.
Monastery of the Bernardines
The monastery, which once belonged to the Bernardines — one of the branches of the Franciscan order — is located in the Upper Town.
Initially, the temple was built of wood, so the fire of 1644 completely destroyed it. For several years, the brothers built a new monastery. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, the territory of the monastery expanded significantly. But 150 years ago it was closed and never reopened. You cannot get inside, but you can admire the exterior of the building.
Interesting places and parks
The oldest and largest botanical garden in the republic was opened in 1932 at the National Academy of Sciences. Its goal is to preserve and increase the floristic diversity of the country. The park is very clean and well maintained. Along the alleys there are benches for rest. There is also an artificial pond with swans.
Over 10,000 unique plants grow on an area of 153 hectares, and about 3,000 grow in closed ground. The pearl of the garden is a greenhouse with exotic plants (about 500 specimens) and an immense lilac garden.
The area is located in the very center of the capital. Many buildings, although erected today, very reliably imitate the buildings of the 18th-19th centuries, which disappeared without a trace during the war and in the era of the Soviet Union.
There are museums, restaurants, cafes and bars. Walking along the cobbled streets among the eclectic houses is a pleasure for locals and tourists alike.
The city park was founded in the 1930s. Beautiful, well-groomed, it is perfectly preserved to this day. Amusements, playgrounds, a corner for chess lovers are located on an impressive territory. Local attraction — squirrels. Animals are friendly and not afraid of people.
The historical district in the center of Minsk once played an important commercial and political role in the life of the city. These times are gone, leaving interesting buildings in the classical and baroque style. Alas, most of the original buildings have not been preserved. But they were replaced by copies recreated from drawings and photographs.
Central Children’s Park. Maxim Gorky
Every city in the post-Soviet space has a Gorky park. Minsk is no exception. About 100 species of trees and shrubs grow on an area of approximately 28 hectares, 60 attractions operate, and there are two artificial reservoirs. The most popular area for walking stretches along the Svisloch River.
The central and largest square of the capital is popular with tourists and local residents. They are attracted by green squares, benches for rest and a fountain, which is illuminated by colorful lights in the evening.
The facades of all important administrative buildings face the square, and underneath there is a multi-level parking and a shopping center.
The estate and park complex occupies an area of over 100 hectares. This is not only a vast green area with alleys and paths, but also an important historical landmark. It miraculously preserved monuments of architecture of the XVIII-XIX centuries. Among them is the house-museum, in the wing of which there is an exhibition telling about the life of Minsk residents of the 19th century.
An expressive, wide and beautiful square appeared in the center of Minsk in the 50s. It complements the ensemble of houses built in the Stalinist Empire style. In the center of the square stands the Victory Monument. The height of the gray granite obelisk is almost 40 m. The top is crowned with the image of the Order of Victory, and the Eternal Flame burns at the foot of the monument.