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<img class="imgl" alt="" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-402.jpg">[b]How to spend your time in Minsk during the Ice Hockey World Championship[/b]<br />From May 9th-25th, Minsk will be hosting the World Ice Hockey Championship, gathering sports fans from around the world. However, it’s also a city rich in cultural heritage, and modern arts. Between matches, take a stroll through its streets to discover unexpected treasures.
From May 9th-25th, Minsk will be hosting the World Ice Hockey Championship, gathering sports fans from around the world. However, it’s also a city rich in cultural heritage, and modern arts. Between matches, take a stroll through its streets to discover unexpected treasures.
City origins in Svobody Square
The most ancient part of Minsk is around Svobody Square, with its beautiful Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals and monasteries. During the Championship, the spacious area will host open-air exhibitions, fire-shows, dancing, tricks and concerts, while boasting an abundance of cafes and restaurants, as well as souvenir shops. A forum of street theatre is also planned — from May 9th-11th.
Museums: ten centuries of Belarusian art
Svobody Square is also home to the Museum of Minsk City History: four of its halls are dedicated to interesting temporary exhibitions while the other six explore Minsk life from 1067 to the present day.
Meanwhile, the National Art Museum is hosting Ten Centuries of Art in Belarus, displaying a thousand years of masterpieces for the first time, gathered from galleries across Belarus. On show are some examples of Marc Chagall’s works, as well as those by Chaim Soutine and Valenty Vankovich, and other world famous artists. The show is the work of 15 curators — and the best designers from Belarus, Lithuania and Russia. There is even a catalogue in Belarusian, Russian and English, with audio guides prepared.
During the World Championship, Minsk’s museums are to stay open beyond 7pm, until late at night, to encourage visitors. With over 20 museums to experience, all in the historical centre, nobody should be short of entertainment. The National History Museum and Museum of History of Theatrical and Musical Culture will be open until 9pm daily while the National Art Museum and the Yanka Kupala State Literary Museum may be open until midnight daily. The Yakub Kolas State Literary-Memorial Museum will welcome visitors until 11pm.
Minsk-Arena: not only for hockey fans
Minsk-Arena hosts not only hockey but other sports — such as cyclists using its velodrome. The centre can be used by the public, for badminton and table tennis, while its gyms are equipped with the latest training apparatus, focusing on various muscle groups. A one-off visit to the gym costs from 3 to 8 Euros, for 1.5 hours. There’s even a steam room replicating the mountain air — helping treat sufferers of bronchial asthma and cardiovascular diseases. After your exertions, you can drop in to the cosy cafй, which serves an abundance of sweet treats and salads.
Komsomolskoe Lake and Pobedy Park: meeting the birds
The road to Minsk-Arena from the centre of the city lies through Pobediteley Prospectus, passing Komsomolskoe Lake on the right, with Pobedy Park. Admire Ptichy Island (Bird Island) on the lake, spend time on the beach, or cycle in this tranquil setting, listening to the rustle of leaves and the splash of water.
With a breeze: the best view of the city
Where do you need to go to find the best view of Minsk? Many tourists choose to ascend to the National Library’s viewpoint: the panorama is especially stunning by night, when the city lies illuminated before you — as if in a fairy tale. It can be windy, so go warmly dressed.
Souvenirs: searching for something unique
Many souvenirs are ‘Made in China’ but Minsk boasts original handicrafts, as well as foreign made magnets and other knick-knacks. For an authentic gift, buy straw or carved wood souvenirs, ceramics or embroidered items. There are so many forms of traditional Belarusian creativity. The Gallery of National Arts and Crafts, located inside Minsk Concert Hall, is a great place to buy gifts, displaying items from 17 local factories, made by over 400 individual masters. Another good place to buy handmade souvenirs is Slavutyya Maistry (Famous Masters) Gallery, in the Troitsky Suburbs: the historical quarter of the city.
Bon appetite: where and when to have supper
During the championship, most shops will be open until 10-11 pm while restaurants, cafes and bars will operate through the night, until 6am (except for those located in residential houses).
Marina Mastashova, a leading spokeswoman for the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, tells us:
“The official tour operator for the World Ice Hockey Championship, TsentrKurort, is offering visitors various excursions around the capital. There are about 20 to choose from — including ‘Minsk — capital of Belarus’ and ‘Sporting Minsk’. Beyond the city limits, tourists can visit ‘Khatyn Memorial Complex’, ‘Mir Castle’ and ‘Nesvizh Palace and Park Estate’.
Travel agency Drom-Tur is organising excursions on red double-decker buses, from the railway station. There are four sightseeing tours, with an audio-guide in eight languages (Russian, Belarusian, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Chinese). Those in Russian and English are also available on regular capital city bus #1.”
By Viktar Korbut