Wed, Jun 29, 2022

Have you ever heard about Belarus?


  • 02/15/2022 - by Svetlana Lyskoits

Belarus is a wonderful country for tourism. There is no such thing as "out of season." You can enjoy the trip both in July and in February. From May to September is the most convenient time for outdoor recreation like walks and excursions. Spring and autumn are perfect for hunting, fishing and spa treatment, and winter for skiing, snowboarding and skating.

Belarus (belar.Беларусь) is a country with an ancient history and rich traditions, with magnificent nature. And, of course, it’s a country with an amazing architecture, which combines the heritage of Western European and Eastern Slavic traditions of architecture. Belarus is also famous for its huge amount of forests and lakes – and it is even called the “lungs of Europe.” 

So, what is Belarus? It is wide bright avenues and narrow cobbled streets, Catholic churches and Orthodox cathedrals, majestic castles and wooden huts in the villages, hearty and delicious national cuisine and mainly plain landscape covered with forests, fields and lakes.

Belarus is located in the center of Europe, in the Central European time zone: GMT + 3 hours. It has common borders with five countries: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. 

The territory of the country occupies an area of ​​about 207.6 thousand square kilometers, the length of the borders of the state from west to east is 650 km, and from north to south - 560 km. The country is landlocked, but due to its geographical location, it is an important trade and transport corridor between Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

The temperate continental climate of Belarus is formed under the influence of the air masses of the Atlantic. Winters are generally mild with prolonged thaws, and summers are moderately warm. The average air temperature varies depending on the regions of Belarus. In July, the average temperature ranges from +17°C in the north to +18.5°C in the south; in January it fluctuates from -14.5°C in the southwest to -18°C in the northeast. So, in almost any time of the year, be sure you’re dressed warm.

What special can you see in Belarus?

Obviously, every foreigner starts to know Belarus from Minsk, its capital. First of all, the easiest way to get into the country without visa required, is coming by plane and getting temporary visa stamp in your passport right at the airport. It gives you the permission to stay in the country for 30 days, which is quite enough to know the country spirit.

Minsk

The sights of the city can be listed for a long time. Let's speak about the main ones. 

 The snow-white and majestic Cathedral of the Descent of the Holy Spirit and the Archcathedral named after the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Church of St. Simeon and St. Helena (which people call “the red church”). 

Be sure to take a walk in the cozy Trinity Suburb which is the most expensive area in the entire country with a museum of Belarusian literature, few hotels, the museum of Maxim Bogdanovich and numerous cafes and souvenir shops. Within walking distance from here there is the island of Courage and Sorrow (the Island of Tears) on Nemiga river - a memorable place with a sad history. This is a monument to those who died in the Afghan war. 

And walking a little bit forward along the river, you can reach the Belarusian State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War. 

Just a simple walk along Independence Avenue with beautiful modern buildings, trendy shops and popular restaurants and as well, the buildings in the Stalinist empire style – which combined elements of the Baroque, empire style of the Napoleonic era, late classicism, art deco, and neo-Gothic – will give you a taste of USSR spirit. An example is the Gates of Minsk right in front of the main railway station.

 The national library in Minsk is unique. The unusual shape of the library, combined with illumination, makes the object visible from afar. And it is really worth visiting just for a cup of nice coffee in a cozy café on the top level and reading a book you can find in there. There is also a viewing platform on the roof which gives an amazing opportunity to observe the capital from above.

Memorial complex "Khatyn"

The memorial complex "Khatyn" is undoubtedly one of the main attractions of Belarus. It is located 60 km from Minsk. Even though this place cannot be called entertaining, it certainly leaves no one indifferent. The feeling of that tragedy, that pain and sorrow are still in the air there. 

More than seventy years ago, a village stood right on this spot - a completely ordinary one, with two hundred inhabitants who worked, loved, rested – just simply, lived here, like the inhabitants of any other village in Belarus. And their descendants would live in it to this day, if fate had not decreed otherwise: during the war, Khatyn was burned along with its inhabitants ... The mournful memorial keeps the memory not only of this village, but also of other 185 villages that endured that same fate.

Mir and Nesvizh

These two cities are famous all over the world for their castles. 

Mir Castle is called the pearl of Belarus. It belonged to the Ilyinich family, but then it passed into the possession of the main Belarusian magnates Radziwills. There is a legend that the Radziwills built an underground passage from Mir to Nesvizh Castle. But of course, the tunnel has not yet been found. 

Nowadays, a lot of festivals of medieval, classical, modern jazz and electronic music are regularly held near the walls of the castle.

The castle in Nesvizh is the main family residence of the Radziwills. All the nobility of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania gathered in the formal balls in Nesvizh. The castle had its own portrait gallery, theater, cabinet of curiosities and a library of more than 20,000 volumes of books. Unfortunately, due to wars and the policy of the Soviet authorities, all these riches were plundered or taken out of Belarus. 

The tours given around the castles, which are very close to each other, are the best tourist attraction. But be aware, as they say, for the ghost of Barbara Radziwill cannot find peace and is still wandering around Neswizh castle.

Gervyaty village

This small village on the border with Lithuania is remarkable for its most beautiful church of the Holy Trinity in the neo-Gothic style in the country. They approached its construction thoroughly: they built a special brick factory, and slate was brought from Germany. It is curious that the mass here is held in three languages: Polish, Belarusian and Lithuanian. No less remarkable is the park around the church with beautiful trees and statues of angels and apostles. 

Braslav Lakes

The Braslav Lakes are the remarkable attraction for tourists. Their history dates back 10-18 thousand years ago, when the north of Belarus was covered with ice. Due to the rise in temperature, the ice melted, but left behind hills, lowlands and lakes. . . and even the islands –  there are more than 100 of them. Until the 40s of the 20th century, families of fishermen lived on the large islands of the Braslav Lakes, but today only tourists come here.

 Local landscapes are very reminiscent of Finland - it is just as spacious and beautiful here. This is a great place for a walk, which you can start from Mount Mayak. It is located between the Snudy and Strusto lakes, and from the top you can enjoy a picturesque view of the lakes with numerous islands and shoals.

There is the also here the Belmont park, the second largest park in Belarus, located on the shore of the lake Drivyaty, the largest one in the Braslav region.

There is expanse for cyclists too: they have several routes of various lengths at their disposal. The longest is called "Around the Lakes" and stretches 110 kilometers, passing through the picturesque places of the national park. There is also a route for history lovers, with ancient temples included in the program. In Braslav Park, you can also go on a safari and see wild animals up close.

Belarus is a wonderful country for tourism. There is no such thing as "out of season." You can enjoy the trip both in July and in February. From May to September is the most convenient time for outdoor recreation like walks and excursions. Spring and autumn are perfect for hunting, fishing and spa treatment, and winter for skiing, snowboarding and skating.

Svetlana Lyskoits 

English Phylologist 

Grodno State University- Bielorusia