Big city easily presented by scientists in retro style

National Historical and Archaeological Centre to appear soon in Minsk

By Victor Anikeev

A hill once stood between today’s Pobediteley Avenue and the Svisloch River in Minsk. From the 11th century, the city of Menesk (forerunner of contemporary Minsk) buzzed with life on the site. Now, only the foundations of buildings remain, hidden beneath the earth.

The landmark site will soon acquire a future, alongside its already glorious past. Minsk’s Citadel has been registered on the 2012-2018 Castles of Belarus state programme, approved by the Council of Ministers. From 2014, major investigations are to be launched.

A year ago, it was planned that, in 2013, the former hilly relief would be restored, while the National Historical and Archaeological Centre would be raised on the site of the unearthed town from the time of Ancient Rus. Intriguingly, when preliminary digs were organised in 2009, an unexpected discovery was made.

In 1993, a memorial sign was installed on the site of Minsk’s first 12th century Orthodox church, consecrated by Metropolitan Filaret. The original foundations lie under the earth and, in fact, are sited some distance from the sign, changing previous thoughts on the location.

“1950-1960s digs failed to find the exact location of the church’s foundations, so we had to look at surrounding findings,” explains Vadim Koshman, who heads the Medieval Archaeology Department at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus’ History Institute. “Foundations of a 17th century Uniate stone church lie under the asphalt in Pobediteley Avenue. However, we know of it only from written chronicles. Minsk’s Citadel holds many mysteries, as no more than 20-25 percent of its three hectares have been explored.”

Archaeologists are ready to continue their investigations of ancient Menesk, as Sergey Baglasov explains, chief architect of Minskproekt and leading the Minsk’s Citadel. South-Eastern Part. National Historical and Archaeological Centre project. He tells us, “Documents have been approved and the project has undergone state assessment, being approved by the Minsk City Executive Committee. Construction is likely to begin in 2014, although much depends on funding. As soon as money arrives, we’ll set to work.”

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