Today’s historical centre of Grodno occupies 302 hectares. It is not only the centre of administrative-public life but is busy with traffic and is a dense residential area. Gennady Talamanov, the Head of Architecture and Town-planning for Grodno City Executive Committee, and the main architect for the settlement, tells us, “Every year, we’ve been reconstructing dozens of historical buildings, bringing a ‘facelift’ to ancient part of the city. Over 500 municipal and private apartment blocks are located in the centre, with most having been constructed at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries. Each year, we’ve been making major repairs on 4-5 apartment blocks and to the facades and roofs of 15-20 further blocks. Across 17 sites, we’ve spent Br18.6 billion, in the historical centre of the city, and have plans for seven new sites.”
Grodno’s Old Castle is next in line for restoration, being listed within the Governmental programme Castles of Belarus. Meanwhile, city enterprises are sponsoring the restoration of the Lutheran church. The synagogue’s repairs are being jointly funded by the Jewish religious community of Grodno and by sponsorship.
The city’s suburbs are gradually receiving more facilities, including major shopping centres. In 2005, the norm was just 262.7 square metres of retail space per 1,000 people; now, this has almost doubled, to 519.4 square metres. Meanwhile, public catering employment has doubled over the last decade.
Recently, the main city streets have been transformed, using an open plan ring road to serve outlying areas and ease traffic flow. There are two overpasses, near the railway station and Suvorov Street, and many streets have been converted to two lanes. In addition, there have been major repairs at the railway station.
Public health service buildings have also received attention, being reconstructed and equipped with modern equipment. Repairs are complete at Grodno Regional Clinical Hospital and at Grodno Regional Clinical Hospital of Infectious Diseases, and the Children’s Regional Clinical Hospital has a new building, as well as having its former administrative-medical building turned into a hostel. Grodno’s regional blood transfusion station is now operational too.
Every year, the city acquires new facilities and services. Between 2011 and 2014, Grodno launched four more pre-schools, as well as two secondary schools, a spa-baths complex and two youth centres. Another school is to open its doors in September 2015, while December will see the launch of a new kindergarten in the suburb of Vishnevets.
Of course, buildings should be pleasing to the eye as well as functional, with good evening illumination of facades and attractive grounds. The city is also known for its sculptural compositions, which are regularly supplemented.
In future it is planned to create the whole museum of sculptures in Kalozhsky park. At creation of exhibit items for the museum, it is planned to continue the topic of cultural and spiritual connection of the history and the modernity of the city over the Neman. Already next year it is planned to conduct the international plein-air of sculptors and to invite to it, apart from Belarusian craftsmen, authors from Poland and Lithuania.
By Yuliya Popko