Ancient citadel perceived in modern way after revival

Underground museum, fragment of 12th century city and Lower Market to appear at Minsk’s Citadel Historical and Archaeological Centre

By Olga Zharkovskaya

Around five years ago, it was decided to re-create Minsk’s Citadel complex, as part of the reconstruction of the capital’s historical centre. Its design has been finally approved… so what can we expect?

The new complex will be located along the River Svisloch, from Nemiga metro station to the fountain at the Sports Palace, comprising an underground museum, a fragment of the 12th century city and the Lower Market.

“Although the occupied layer of the citadel was 80 percent dismantled, it has managed to preserve the foundations of the first 12th century stone church, fragments of streets’ wooden pavements, houses and household outbuildings, as well as part of the defensive embankments and entrance gates,” notes Sergey Baglasov, the chief architect of the project. “During archaeological digs, these elements have been studied, with many household utensils and decorations collected. These silent witnesses of the city’s history are being stored underground in a conserved state and in storage rooms of scientific institutes.”

A trade and entertainment complex is to be created on the site of the Medieval Lower Market, nearby the currently operational metro station of the same title. However, it will be of new construction, only using motifs of the original market. Only one permanent structure will be erected — a cafe, with trade stalls being of a mobile nature, alongside a tented theatre pavilion. The market will sell souvenirs, crafts and artworks, while offering seasonal public catering and performances by artists, clowns and illusionists.

The citadel is to be connected to the Troitsky Suburbs via a pedestrian walkway and an unusual exhibit is planned for nearby the river. From the 11th-12th century onwards, floating mills were widespread, with millwheels for grinding installed on boats. Anchors were either dropped or boats were fixed to a bridge; when necessary, a boat could be then moved to another place. The design includes a ‘Floating Watermill with Sculptural Composition of Miller Menesk and His Team’.

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