A town surrounded by lakes: or Five reasons to visit Braslav
Live like Robinson Crusoe
1 Live like Robinson Crusoe
Like a gem in a crown, the township of Braslav is surrounded with about 300 lakes. The lakes appeared due to a glacier that ‘ironed’ this territory about 20,000 years ago. Due to the great number of lakes, this area is called Poozerie (meaning ‘Lacustral Area’).
The Braslavskie Ozera National Park (Braslav Lakes) occupies the largest part of Poozerie. Fans of ‘back to nature’ vacations can choose a stay on numerous islands, in the style of Robinson Crusoe. The purity of the water makes swimming a delight and exploring the underwater life a stunning aquatic adventure.
Here, you can go fishing even when you’re in the middle of town. Perch, bream, sander, and pike abound in the Drivyaty Lake, with one of its shorelinesalso being an actual Braslav street.
2 Become King of the Hill
Climb up Castle Hill, the site of an 11th century ancient settlement. Long ago, there stood a wooden castle with seven towers. Five hundred years ago, Alexander Jagiellon, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, visited the town, accompanied by his wife Helena, the daughter of Moscow Duke Ivan III. The Duchess was so astonished with what she saw that the lovestruck Duke presented his beloved with the town of Braslav and all surrounding lands. Helena, in appreciation and acknowledgement, founded an orthodox nunnery in the area.
In summertime, the hill becomes a venue to host international knight tournaments, feasts and related events, bringing together thousands of participants and onlookers every year.
3 Ask the Lake Mistress for help
Stairs from the Castle Hill lead to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church. Construction of the church started in 1824. The altar holds a much-lauded icon of Braslav — Holy Mother of the God who is said to work miracles. Also known as the Lake Mistress. Believers say that the icon helps those afflicted with alcohol addiction.
Across the road, visitors will find the Holy Assumption Church. Savvy tourists might complain that the white plastered building is modest and unassuming. Yet, inside there is a true cultural treasure — a three-level iconostasis, crafted by Kyiv masters.
4 Drink living water
Locals believe that the Okmenitsa healing well is a genuine miracle. They say that the water is rejuvenating and remains fresh for several months. To honour the life-giving spring, custom dictates that partakers of the healing waters should throw in a coin or make a knot on a tree branch. That is why the trunks of all the nearest pine trees are decorated with colourful knotted cloths.
5 Photograph wildlife
Braslav is a perfect destination for a family weekend. Children are always happy to visit the Traditional Culture Museum where they can learn to make pots using a real throwing wheel or weave a belt on an ancient loom.
Deer are kept in a local safari park. Currently, visitors may ‘hunt’ them with a photo camera. Exciting developments within the park will soon enable visitors to take part in a costumed royal hunt with bows and arbalests (traditional crossbows).