From Berestje to Brest

The 1000th anniversary of the city will be marked with construction of a castle, a City hall… and a pedestrian bridge to Poland
The 1000th anniversary of the city will be marked with construction of a castle, a City hall… and a pedestrian bridge to Poland.

According to the legend, a merchant was near to be bogged down in the swamp together with a string of carts escorting him. He prayed to Madonna and swore praise God. The merchant saved himself having paved the swamp with birchbark. On his way home, the merchant built a chapel on that very place and a city started to grow around it, which was called Berestje. It happened in 1019, almost one thousand years ago. Berestje, Brest-Litovsk, Brest-over-Bug, and, finally, Brest. The city has a rich and difficult history…

By the 1000th anniversary that the city is going to celebrate in 2019, an unusual monument will appear at the crossroads of Gogol and Sovetskaya streets. It will have the form of a massive column on a pedestal, which will be crowned by the figures of the city legend heroes: the merchant down on his knees and Madonna. 12 plates with texts telling the city’s story will be put around the pedestal forming a symbolic clock. Along the perimeter of the column there will be 8 figures of the men of history whose names are connected with Brest.

They are the prince of Vladimir and Volyn Vladimir Vasilkovich, the great princes of Lithuania Vytautas and Jagiello (alias the Polish king Wladislaw II), the magnate and public figure Nikolay Radzivill Chorny, Afanasiy Filippovich, the frontiersman Andrey Kizhevatov, the pilot and the Hero of Belarus Vladimir Nikolaevich Karvat, the scientist and writer Vladimir Kolesnik. The name of each of them is closely connected with the history of Brest.

Alongside of the composition it is planned to mount a memorial plate with the names both of the project authors (the sculptor Alexey Pavliuchuk and the architect Alexey Andreiuk — the author’s remark) and the most generous sponsors.

Simultaneously, the History Museum of the city will start a special Commemorative book, where the surnames of all benefactors will be registered. In a word, each Brest citizen has got a chance to remain in the history.

The monument is half the story. Brest authorities decided to... breathe life into the Brest fortress. The authors of the project for preservation, re-creation and perspective usage of the historical heritage on the territory of Brest fortress reassure that the memorial complex “Brest fortress — Hero” will not be affected. And the rest of the territory with bond buildings on it should not stay empty.

I remember that in the beginning of the 1990`s, after the military men had left the fortress, Brest architects offered to use former barracks and forts for the needs of the city. Not as garages and workshops that they had been earlier, but for re-creation of the former Berestje. However, the idea was never realized. Now it’s high time.

“It is necessary to find and reconstruct the old Brest fortress together with the suburb of crafts, a water mill and a “brewer” on the territory of Volyn fortification. The nunnery of Bernardians has to be temporarily closed. On the territory of Kobrin fortification, we suggest creating the National Technical Museum, the “City of masters”, to build a hotel and a tourist complex, a parking place and a cable road,” Mikhail Gaydukovich says, the author of the concept of preservation and restoration of the old city objects, an architect, who seems to be excited about this unusual idea.

There are also plans connected with the territory of Pogranichny island, which belongs to the frontier guards. It is suggested that the old customs house should be restored and the pedestrian and water bridges to Poland should be simplified. This is, probably, what each Brest citizen dreams of.

Professor Petr Lysenko, who disclosed to the world Berestje of the XIIth century (“Berestje” museum was established on the place where diggings were carried out), fully supports the plans of Brest authorities. Although he has got an essential wish: it is necessary to find and reconstruct the City hall. Its location is already known. The scientists combined the pictures taken from space with the old maps of the fortress and figured out the City hall location. In the middle of October they examined the region with the help of a georadar. There were found fragments of reference walls going deep into the ground that were two and a half bricks thick. Is it the City hall? The diggings will give us the exact answer.

Mother Alexandra, an abbess of the Sviato-Rozhdestvensky nunnery restored in the fortress, has also got some ideas:

“We welcome reforms. But the nunnery needs to be expanded as well. It is necessary to build the House of Mercy, a chapel, a hotel...”

Such questions as the date of this project implementation and its cost, haven’t been discussed yet. The project is oriented to Brest anniversary. And then the time will show. Everyone who starts this great work today hope that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have a rest in a new city.

Valentina Kozlovich
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