The spirit of Medieval times reins in this former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania situated on the Nieman River.
Kolozha Church in Grodno
Grodno is almost nine centuries old. Many years ago, Volyn’s Duke — Vsevolodka — ordered a royal palace and church to be built on the upper banks of the river Nieman; a high wall was constructed to counteract the river’s tendency to flood. Grodno’s Farny Roman Catholic Church rivals the famous St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Vilnius
Walking through the old town
Many corners of the city resemble Vilnius and even Prague. In Grodno, visitors discover unexpected historical, architectural and culinary treasures at every turn. Original 17th and 18th century houses have been preserved in the city, as well as the wonderful Pokrovskaya Church, the recently restored Lutheran church and the richly decorated old synagogue.
One of the oldest clocks in Europe is to be found in Grodno’s Farny Roman Catholic Church. It has told the time for five centuries thus far. The Catholic Church, in turn, was part of the Jesuit Monastery. The majestic Vilno Baroque-style Roman Catholic church is among the most revered by Belarusian Catholics.
Staircase towards Old Castle
Grodno was the only city in Belarus to bear the status of a Grand Duchy as Lithuania’s capital and a summer residence of the Rzecz Pospolita kings. Its Old and New castles are the stone witnesses of that epoch. They stand opposite each other on a high river bank, surrounded by old Catholic and Orthodox churches. The strong walls have been preserved near the Old Castle, in addition to a deep ditch with a bridge. The beautiful embankment of the river Neiman is nearby. In the past, the New Castle was a symbol of decadent living and royal balls and concerts. It also hosted sessions of the Polish Sejm; one of which resulted in the decision to split Rzecz Pozpolita. At present, the castle hosts an exhibition by Grodno’s Archaeology Museum.
Visit the younger sister of the Church of the Intercession on the River Nerl
The famous St. Boris and Hleb (Kolozha) Church was built in the late 12th century. As the oldest stone building in Belarus it has miraculously survived through many centuries. Many years ago, the Nieman flowed close to the church but later changed its course and began to undermine the bank. By the mid-19th century, the church appeared to rest on the edge of a high slope. After one particular flood disaster however, part of the wall fell into the river, affecting the appearance of the church: one of its walls is stone and the second (on the side of the river) is wooden. Kolozha has only survived thanks to the mastery of Belarusian engineers who invented a method to strengthen the bank. At present, the old church stands on a strong iron and concrete monolith block, on the edge of the slope.
Grodno residents are experts in the art of producing good food. It’s a special treat in winter to take a tour to visit the bars and restaurants, drink hot wine punch and eat kumpyachok or polendvitsa (cooked pork) and also learn about the origins of the dishes. Grodno is also known for its wonderful beer brewed here for centuries.
Many tours finish at the Karobchitsy Pansky Maentak (Gentry Homestead) agro-tourist complex. It offers pleasant recreation in summer or winter, either with children or without. Folk craft workshops, blacksmiths and woodcutters are to be found there.
Cruising along the Avgustovsky Canal
This miracle of 19th century engineering is to be found close to Grodno: The Avgustovsky Canal was recently restored and is now a popular recreational spot for both residents and guests of the city. The canal starts in Polish territory and finishes its journey in Belarus — running into the River Nieman. This watery artery is also popular amongst canoeists. Meanwhile, those unwilling to row, can enjoy the surroundings while travelling by pleasure boat.
By Irina Zavodskaya