Heritage, uniting nations

Grodno Region’s UNESCO site and unique museum
By Natalia Paramygina

Tupishki control point, which opened in the Oshmyany District at the end of 2007, is one of 265 points on the famous Struve Arc, created in the 19th century, determining the parameters of the Earth, its shape and size. Originally known as the Geodetic Arc, the 2,800km Struve Arc was measured over a period of 40 years: from 1816 to 1855, from Fuglenes near Cape Nord Cap in Norway to Ishmael near the Black Sea. The idea belonged to the famous Russian astronomer Vasily Struve, the first director of Pulkovo Observatory. It passes through ten states — Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine — and, of 31 points in Belarus, five are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, including Oshmyany Tupishki.

“It’s the most unique tourist site in the district,” emphasises Lilia Roginskaya, who heads a museum dedicated to the Arc — located inside Golshany village library. “The point is located 5km from the famous old castle of Golshany. It’s a pity that not all appreciate its value. Tupishki stands alongside the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Nesvizh Palace and Mir Castle in importance.”

The Struve Arc Museum aims to enlighten us, of course, and is the only such worldwide. Ms. Roginskaya continues, “The idea for ​​the museum was suggested by a former librarian at Golshany village library, Valentina Lobunina. She had collected materials on the monument for years and had organised ski trips to the Tupishki. Of course, our museum had help from the local history museum and from the district executive committee. We received 8,000 Euros from the educational fund named after Lev Sapega, with some allocated from the local budget.”

Modern office equipment has been purchased with the funding, with halls restored and windows and doors replaced, or given new glass. Advertising brochures have been printed, to promote the wonderful museum. Ms Roginskaya tells us, “We also try to explain the traditions and culture of local people, through whose land the Arc passes. The motto of the museum is ‘The Arc Brings Together People and Cultures’. Experts from abroad have helped with donated artefacts and booklets, while some exhibits are hand-made — such as dolls created locally to symbolise each country through which the Arc passes.” 

Among the most valuable exhibits is the original UNESCO World Heritage List certificate, adding Tupishki to the Struve Arc, and a silver coin to commemorate the event.
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