The city which is always close at hand

Reading the Guinness Book of Records, I suddenly felt sorry for Minsk. All its highest, most beautiful and most attractive sites are situated beyond its suburbs. Nevertheless, there is plenty to admire in the capital; it’s often called the cleanest and most compact of cities. Although its almost millennium old history was completely destroyed during World War II, it was fully restored in just a few decades. Let’s look at Minsk’s most attractive sights…
Reading the Guinness Book of Records, I suddenly felt sorry for Minsk. All its highest, most beautiful and most attractive sites are situated beyond its suburbs. Nevertheless, there is plenty to admire in the capital; it’s often called the cleanest and most compact of cities. Although its almost millennium old history was completely destroyed during World War II, it was
fully restored in just a few decades. Let’s look at Minsk’s most attractive sights…

Only clouds are higher. One might think that the National Library (73.67 metres) is the tallest building in the capital. However, this is not true. The 24-storey building located on Melnikayte Street is almost 90 metres high. Until the early 1990s, it hosted the Belbyttekhnika Scientific-Production Association; now, it offers offices for rent. The views from the top are unimaginable.

A 45-storey business centre is now being planned for Maxim Tank Street, with construction already begun. It won’t compare to the 688-metre skyscraper in Dubai (the world’s highest building) but is sure to be impressive, being twice the height of the National Library).

19th century beauty. Minsk’s oldest fountain was built 135 years ago — in 1874, when a pipeline of spring water was launched. ‘The Boy with a Swan’ still pleases those who sit beside it. It is not the largest fountain but is one of the most beautiful. Located in Alexandrovsky Park, near the Yanka Kupala Theatre, its ‘1874’ inscription remains.

Long road. The main difference between a small and large city is that smaller cities are quicker to navigate. One avoids the frustration of so many traffic lights and queues when a city is compact. Minsktrans’ Transportation Department tells us that the longest route in Minsk is serviced by bus number 84 (Malinovka- Stepianka) — 48.9 km — which takes an hour to complete its one-way journey (dependent on traffic flow).

Underground. Minskmetroproekt tells us that Oktiabrskaya station is the deepest (20 metres below the surface) but an even deeper point exists in Minsk’s metro — between the stations of Moskovskaya and Vostok (27 metres below). Of course, Oktiabrskaya can hardly be compared with Kiev’s Arsenalnaya — located 120 metres below ground. The situation may change in future of course!

Far away from the hustle and bustle. Minsk is worthily known as a green city — owing to its many parks. The first appeared in the early 19th century, initiated by Minsk Governor Zakhar Korneev in 1800 and launched five years later on the banks of the Svisloch River (now known as Maxim Gorky Park). Two centuries ago, it covered 18 hectares; it now occupies 28. It is home to trees local and exotic. In the 19th century, the words ‘take rest after work’ were placed above the entrance to the park — good advice for modern city residents...

Guests from the past. Finding the oldest building in Minsk was a challenge. Architects believe it to be Petropavlovskaya Church (previously known as Ekaterininskaya) — built in 1613 and located near Nemiga. However, historians say the former Basilian Monastery is also among the oldest (found on the opposite side of City Hall on Svobody Square — it hosts various organisations). Vladimir Likhodedov, a laureate of the ‘For Spiritual Renaissance’ award, notes the two buildings were laid out in the mid-17th century. The Monastery has preserved its initial form while the church has been rebuilt several times, losing its originality. Mr. Likhodedov also notes that private houses dating back to the 16th century have been preserved in Minsk.

Olga Pasijak
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