City celebrates its 1038th birthday in grand style
Duchess Olga welcomes hosts and guests of Vitebsk on boat solemnly floating along Zapadnaya Dvina
By Olga Belanovich
The appearance of a noble person at the city’s birthday celebrations (with whose name historians connect the foundation of the city) is already a tradition. Adults and children alike flocked to meet the Duchess, viewing her as an embodiment of the past, as if years could suddenly turn back, allowing us to fly through the centuries.
It’s no secret that the capital of the Slavianski Bazaar increases in beauty each year. New suburbs appear, served by contemporary services and major shopping sites. Although the city celebrated its 1037th anniversary only recently, many landmark events have been taking place: the huge Korona Trade Centre has thrown open its doors, as has the Marco-City Business Centre, the large Nika store and others. The number of factories has also increased, with local entrepreneurs and foreign investors eagerly injecting money into the region’s economy.
Vitebsk is improving its outlook in front of our eyes, turning into a true European centre of culture, industry and tourism, as noted by Claudia Possardt, the Deputy Burgermeister (Deputy Governing Mayor) of Frankfurt-am-Oder (Vitebsk’s twin city), at a speech delivered to mark the holiday. The city on the Dvina River has been widely admired by envoys from the cities of Haskovo (Bulgaria), Daugavpils (Latvia), Smolensk and the Stupin Municipal District of the Moscow Region, as well as by diplomats from Latvia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Armenia and officials from neighbouring regions of Belarus.
For three days, the city was filled with merrymaking: concerts, exhibitions, fireworks, discos and dance evenings in the park. To the sound of a brass band, the city also hosted a parade of retro automobiles and a concert of national cultures: Vitebsk — Our Common House. Creative workshops were organised, in addition to a trade fair of arts and crafts and architectural projects, entitled The Future of our Native City. Writers and poets held meetings and tourist agencies promoted their services.
Thousands of residents gathered along the banks of the Zapadnaya Dvina River, near Victory Square, to take part in a spectacular water and sporting holiday: From the Varangians to Greeks… A Relay Race of Time. Duchess Olga, accompanied by an escort of knights, was welcomed by guests, as well as Great Patriotic War soldiers and other heroes. It was as if a time machine operated before guests’ eyes.
Finally, those gathered were able to admire the work of Vitebsk rescuers, who proved their mastery on the ground, in the air and on water, accompanied by huge applause.