Golden ring of Belovezhskaya Pushcha
[b]The village of Vezhnoe, lost in the pine woods, was inhabited by only one resident until recently. Sometimes, modern day miracles occur. Vezhnoe has been known far beyond the borders of Brest region for several years, famous for its miraculous spring and small Orthodox convent. Additionally, it’s unique in being situated on the territory of two districts: its spring is located within the Kamenets district while the village itself — with ancient St. Nicholas Church — belongs to Pruzhany district[/b]Due to the nuns’ efforts, the church and neighbourhood is being transformed. A heating system has been installed in the church, which boasts its own miracle-working icon, and a bath house has been built at the spring well. On the village outskirts, a modest hotel for pilgrims can be constructed, accessible via a forest track. However, a new road is planned, linking Vezhnoe with the R-102 highway.
Due to the nuns’ efforts, the church and neighbourhood is being transformed. A heating system has been installed in the church, which boasts its own miracle-working icon, and a bath house has been built at the spring well. On the village outskirts, a modest hotel for pilgrims can be constructed, accessible via a forest track. However, a new road is planned, linking Vezhnoe with the R-102 highway.
A new road is being built around the perimeter of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, which should help Vezhnoe and dozens of other remote villages. Its length is 185km, with 147km through Brest region. Last October, President Alexander Lukashenko spoke at the 600th anniversary of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, noting that a highway was to be constructed around the protected zone, with land lots around the site given to investors.
Brest and Grodno regional executive committees have approved schemes for their roads but, after co-ordination with ministries, these have slightly changed. The district centre is to remain separated from the large sites within Kamenets district while Shereshevo has ‘dropped out’ of Pruzhany district.
The road is to bypass the village of Rozhkovka in Kamenets district, to help preserve its ‘ancient’ atmosphere. At first glance, Rozhkovka is a typical village but its cobbled streets and wooden houses, half of which were constructed in late 19th-early 20th century, make it unique. Sadly, its ‘smoky’ or kurnaya izba (peasant’s hut without chimney) — the village major sight — was dismantled several years ago for conservation. Soon, it’ll be ‘revived’ by a Kamenets farmer, who is involved in agro-ecotourism.
“So as not to lose the cobbles, we’ve decided not to include Rozhkovka on the road ring. It’s an unusual village, so it’s much better to situate the road nearby,” explains Tatiana Gordeyuk, the secretary of Dmitrovichi Rural Council. Other obstacles have been found in the Kamenets district but there is no situation that can’t be overcome. A bridge is needed to connect the village of Novitskovichi with the R-102 highway but the cost will easily be covered if investors come to the area. Local authorities have already proposed two promising land lots for developing roadside services — near the villages of Makovishchi and Yanushi.
Interest is already been shown in the project. A hotel may be built in Kamenets and one of the local farmsteads wishes to equip an ecological estate near the village of Sinitychi. Alexander Ivachev, who heads Brest’s Regional Centre for the Promotion of Agro-ecotourism — Agro-ecotour, has no doubt that the Brest region boasts ‘golden’ prospects.
“In 2009, around 8,000 tourists stayed at Brest region rural guesthouses — against just 270 in 2007. Kamenets district is now ranked second after Brest district in terms of agro-ecotourism. Some Brest residents began to buy land with the intention of developing rural tourism even before the construction of the road and proposals from rural councils,” he stresses.
Pruzhany and Kamenets districts hope that money will appear jointly with the road. Investors may become interested in the villages of Shcherchovo, Brody and Bely Lesok, with the road covering 15 settlements. These remote villages may soon undergo revival. Construction works along the ring road have already begun, with camp sites, parking areas and snack bars soon to appear, alongside smooth roads for use by tourists and foreign investors. The project should be implemented within the next two years. The Head of the Fauna Monitoring and Cadastre at the NAS’ Scientific and Practical Centre for Bioresources, Ruslan Novitsky, assures us that the road around the National Park will be built without damaging the environment.
By Valentina Kozlovich
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