The Republic of Belarus is located in the centre of Europe and is one of the 15 largest countries in this part of the world. Belarus is often called a ‘blue-eyed country’: there are thousands of lakes, rivers and protected forests. But the country is interesting not only for its unique nature. Each region of Belarus has its own modern industrial giants, amazing historical sites and sights. Belarus consists of six regions: Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Minsk and Mogilev. Minsk — the capital of the Republic of Belarus — retains an independent status and is not part of any regions. The MT presents the project called Belarusian Land Treasures. Today we will go to the Grodno Region — the largest region of the country, which has large natural, economic and intellectual resources. Every corner of the Belarusian land is its own special world, a separate page in the book of Belarusian history. The Grodno Region is especially highlighted in this book, whose colour, unique landscapes and preserved monuments of history and architecture win the heart and leave an indelible impression in the heart of everyone!
The President of the Republic of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, “The contemporary history of the region dates back to September 20th, 1944, when the region was created with the centre in the ancient city of Grodno in the most difficult time after the liberation of Belarus from the fascist invaders. Your fruitful work and sincere love for your small homeland raised it from the post-war ruins, made it a wonderful and prosperous land, which the whole country is proud of today... The Grodno Region is famous for its traditions based on hard work, hospitality and cordiality. From time immemorial, this is the land of energetic, strong-willed, enterprising, active and talented people.”
From the congratulations of the Head of State on September 20th, 2019
Historical insight, interesting facts
On the Augustow Canal
The history of the Grodno Region is rooted in hoary antiquity. Its territory has been inhabited by people since the Late Paleolithic Period. The most ancient sites were located on Svityaz Lake, near the villages of Chereshlya (Novogrudok District), Nesilovichi (Dyatlovo District) and Zblyany (Lida District), near the mouth of the Kotra River.
It is known that East Slavic tribes (Dregovichi, Krivichi, Volynians, Drevlyans), West Slavic (Mazovians), East Baltic (Lietuva), West Baltic (Yatvingians) lived on the territory of the Grodno Region at the end of the 1st – beginning of the 2nd millennium.The Slavic colonisation of the region begins in the second half of the 1st millennium.
Volkovysk is the most ancient city of the Grodno Region. The first mention of the city in the Turov Chronicle dates back to 1005. The first major cities on these lands were Novogrudok (1044), Grodno (1128), Slonim (1252), Lida (1323).
Grodno — the centre of the region — is often given the title of the most beautiful city in Belarus. Since ancient times, when the first settlement of the Slavs arose on the high bank of the Neman River, it played an exceptionally important role in the fate of the Belarusian lands. This is reflected in the appearance of the city. In addition to palaces, temples and fortifications, Grodno also managed to preserve its ordinary buildings, and with it the very spirit of the past.
At the beginning of 2022, the population of the Grodno Region was 1,006,614 people, including 769,845 people in urban areas, and 236,769 people in rural areas.
The largest cities in the region are Grodno (357,493 people) and Lida (103,479 people).
Geographical position and natural wealth
Grodno Region is the smallest region of the country, its area is 25.1 thousand square kilometres. In the west it borders with Poland, in the north — with Lithuania.
The region is characterised by a flat relief. Only in the southeast is the Novogrudok Upland with the highest point — Castle Hill (323 metres above sea level).
80 rivers flow through the Grodno Region. The largest of them are Neman River, Viliya River, Shchara River and Berezina River.
There are 34 lakes in the region, the largest are Beloye Lake, Rybnitsa Lake, Molochnoye Lake. Svityaz Lake, whose beauty was praised by Adam Mickiewicz in the poem of the same name, is rightfully considered the most beautiful and cleanest in Belarus.
The Augustow Canal, which connects the Baltic Sea with the Black Sea, is one of the pearls of the region. This is an outstanding hydraulic structure of the 19th century, one of the largest canals in Europe, claiming to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. More than 50,000 tourists visit it every year.
On the territory of the region there are 15 nature reserves, 95 nature monuments of republican significance. A lot of pristine nature has been preserved in the Grodno Region — such large forest areas as Nalibokskaya, Lipichanskaya, Grafskaya Pushcha, as well as the world-famous Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, which is often called the last primeval forest in Europe. Here you can see the symbol of Belarus — the bison, as well as many other species of rare animals and, of course, the unique beauty of landscapes.
The Grodno Region has an advantageous recreational and geographical position, has a rich natural and historical and cultural heritage and a developed transport system. In addition, a significant part of the region belongs to the visa-free zone. All this defines the region as a popular tourist destination.
At the Grodno Azot enterprise
Grodno Region is dominated by the production of food, beverages and tobacco products.
Among other significant industries are the production of chemical products, woodworking, light industry, mechanical engineering, the production of building materials, and the production of electricity.
Grodno Region occupies 11 percent of the country’s industrial output. The entire republican volume of production of caprolactam, ammonia, powdered milk formulas for children, almost the entire volume of cord fabric for tires, ammonia, nitrogen fertilisers, almost 70 percent of hosiery are concentrated here.
More than 1300 industrial enterprises are located in the region. Grodno Azot, Grodno Tobacco Factory Neman, Belagroterminal, Kronospan, Grodno Meat Processing Plant, Molochny Mir, Bellakt Volkovysk, Conte Spa, Krasnoselskstroymaterialy, Lakokraska, Novogrudok Plant of Gas Equipment, Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant are main landmarks of the region.
At Molochny Mir enterprise
Dairy and beef cattle breeding, pig breeding, production of grain, sugar beets, rapeseed, potatoes and fruits and vegetables are the main sectors of agriculture.The agro-industrial complex of the Grodno Region includes 186 organisations. Among the leaders are the Svisloch agricultural company, the Agricultural Production Cooperative Collective Farm named after I.P. Senko, Production cooperative named after V.I. Kremko, agricultural production cooperative Olekshitsy, Mayak-Zapolye, Svityazyanka-2003, Gudevichi, Synkovichi, AgroSoly and Negnevichi agricultural enterprises.
In 2002, the free economic zone (FEZ) Grodnoinvest was created.
The largest innovative project in the country, the Belarusian NPP, is being implemented in the Grodno Region. The first power unit of the BelNPP has already generated about 15 billion kWh of electricity since it was included in the power system. The second power unit of the BelNPP is planned to be put into commercial operation before the end of the year.
Culture and main attractions
Nine ancient castles, including royal ones, dozens of ancient temples, monasteries and family estates, more than 700 objects from the List of Historical and Cultural Values of Belarus, the reconstructed unique Augustow Canal — all this makes the Grodno Region especially attractive for hundreds of thousands of tourists from Belarus and abroad. Holy Dormition Stavropegic Monastery in Zhirovichi
The Zhirovichi Icon of the Mother of God
The Holy Dormition Stavropegic Monastery in Zhirovichi (17th and 19th centuries) is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Belarus.
Mir Castle is an outstanding defensive structure of the 16th century, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Also, among the main attractions of the region are Sts Boris and Gleb Chruch (Kolozha Church, 12th century), Bernardine Church (16th-18th centuries), St. Francis Xavier Cathedral (Farny Church), Lida and Novogrudok Castles, the church-fortress in Synkovichi (15th century).
More than a hundred bright holidays and festivals, which are held annually in the region, attract tens of thousands of guests. The most spectacular and massive is the Republican Festival of National Cultures, which since 1996 has united representatives of all peoples living in the country.
The Kolozhsky Blagovest festival of Orthodox chants, the Lion Cub republican festival-competition of children’s art, the Mir Castle festival of arts, the Golshany Castle festival, the knightly tournament Sword of the Lida Castle, Gannensky Kirmash, the Skarby Grodzenshchyny festival of traditional culture, the Augustow Canal in the Culture of Three Peoples festival of folk art are held with great success. At the Festival of National Cultures
By Olga Korneeva Photos by BELTA, Aleksey Bibikov, Tatyana Kondratyeva, Aleksey Matyush, Yury Mozolevsky, Aleksey Vyazmitinov