Where Visla and Dvina merge

Ancient Vitebsk solemnly celebrates its 1037th birthday

By Yelena Bogolyubova

Princess Olga is approaching the city centre on a snow white boat, along the Zapadnaya Dvina’s silver sparkling waters. According to legend, she founded this wonderful city on the banks of two rivers many years ago. For centuries, Vitebsk has been praised in song and verse. It is an endless source of inspiration for artists, sculptors, architects and composers.

The city’s high green banks were covered with many coloured stands, while thousands of Vitebsk residents and guests gathered to demonstrate gratitude to their locality, congratulating it on its birthday. For the first time in the past few decades, the major celebrations took place in the revamped Pobedy Square, near the river and upon it, as last occurred at the end of the last century. The decision to revive the water cultural and sports holiday on the bank of the Zapadnaya Dvina was wise.

The surrounding wonderful landscapes created a unique artistic stage for the major event, which gathered so many guests.
A theatrical show featured ancient knights, hussars, Great Patriotic War soldiers, fire-fighters and modern characters. Bright performances by sportsmen, water skiers, parachute jumpers, dancers and singers were organised. The history of this ancient city seemed to come alive. Dynamic scenes followed one upon another, causing true admiration among the audience, which included Russians, Bulgarians, Israelis, Lithuanians, Latvians and Germans.

The wonderful event on the river banks ended with a daytime firework display and many other festivities are yet to come. Artistic workshops are operational in every city square, featuring amateur shows and contests, while the parade of brides caused a great stir. Lovers of rare, classic cars have an auto show to look forward to while art connoisseurs can enjoy viewing local artists’ works. Historical re-enactments are planned, devoted to the first settlement of Vitebsk, as well as cavalry and foot battles. Ancient cuisine is also on offer, while a contest to find the tallest man is being organised. Among other amusements is a classical music concert and the book launch of Ancient Vitebsk’s Youth.

Business is also promoted via the festivities, with city enterprises enjoying increased revenue. Meanwhile, an investment forum — held at Vitebsk’s concert hall — has brought several new projects to the fore.

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