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. The MT presents the project called Belarusian Land Treasures and invites readers on an exciting journey. Minsk — the capital of the Republic of Belarus — retains an independent status and is not part of any regions. It is a city with a rich historical past. Throughout its history, Minsk has experienced wars more than once, burned to the ground many times, practically disappeared from the face of the earth, but each time it was reborn. Now our modern, beautiful, clean and comfortable capital is one of the hundred best cities in the world.
Minsk, Independence Avenue
The President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko,
“Modern Minsk is the biggest political, economic, cultural, and business centre of the country. This is a very beautiful city with sincere and warm atmosphere where everyone wants to live, study, work, and bring up children. Many heroic and tragic pages are inscribed in the history of our capital. But every time, having gone through severe ordeals, the city was restored to become even more magnificent. And today it is proudly called the Hero City.
Preserving its unique architectural landscape, Minsk is developing every year. New residential districts, cultural and sports facilities, comfortable parks and public gardens are being built. However, people are the main wealth, the soul of our city.”
From message of greetings of the Head of State
on the occasion of the 950th anniversary of Minsk
on September 9th, 2017
Historical insight, interesting facts
Minsk is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The first written mention of the future capital of the Republic of Belarus dates back to 1067. It is contained in the ancient Russian chronicle of The Tale of Bygone Years. At the beginning of the 14th century. Minsk became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1793, as a result of the Second Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as part of the central part of Belarus, Minsk was annexed to the Russian Empire, and in the same year it became the centre of the Minsk Province. Since January 1st, 1919, Minsk has been the capital of the BSSR.
Being ruined to the ground more than once and being reborn, Minsk, like no other city, knows the price of peace and tranquillity. It is it who is the only city in Belarus that was awarded the title of ‘Hero City’ in 1974 in commemoration of the merits of its inhabitants in the fight against fascism during the Great Patriotic War.
The most important objects and institutions of the country are located in the capital: the Palace of Independence — the state residence of the President of the Republic of Belarus, the Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus, the National Assembly and the Council of Ministers, the National Bank of Belarus.
The Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States is located in Minsk, the diplomatic corps, consulates, representative offices of international organisations are housed here.
It houses the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (founded on January 1st, 1929), the High-Tech Park, the Minsk City Technopark, and the country’s largest educational institutions. It is also the only city in Belarus that has had a subway since 1984.
Minsk has a high international prestige as a platform for holding meetings at the highest political level, international events in trade, economic, scientific, innovative and other areas of co-operation.
The city has its own charter, emblem and anthem.
The Palace of Independence
The main thing that Minsk keeps is history. One of the most majestic and solemn squares of the capital of Belarus is Victory Square. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus from the Nazi invaders, it acquired a majestic monument — a monument to the courage and dedication of all soldiers and partisans who defended the freedom and independence of their Motherland in battle. At its foot, the Eternal Flame was lit — to this day Belarusians, leaders of foreign states, prominent figures of various fields from around the world come to pay tribute to the memory of the dead.
July 3rd, 1944, is a historically significant date in the fate of the country, which has become a symbol of freedom and peace. On this day, Minsk was liberated from the German occupation. Independence Day of the Republic of Belarus — the main holiday of the Belarusian statehood — is celebrated on July 3rd.
On behalf of the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, the Trostenets Memorial Complex of international importance was created on the site of one of the largest sites of mass destruction of the civilian population by the Nazis.
There are many places of folk memory and memorials in Minsk: the architectural and sculptural complex Minsk Hero City Stele; Minsk Bratsk Military Cemetery (1914-1918); the Pit Memorial Complex on Melnikaite Street, dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust (here, on March 2nd, 1942, about 5,000 prisoners of the Minsk ghetto were shot by the Nazis); the Masyukovshchina Memorial Complex, where the mass graves of Soviet prisoners of war and civilians are located (part of the territory of the Nazi Stalag-352, in which more than 80,000 people died); the monument to soldiers-internationalists on the island of Courage and Sorrow and many others.
The Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War
Geographical position and population
The capital of the country is located on the southeastern slopes of the Minsk Upland. The relief of Minsk is diverse: it is characterised by significant hilliness, the difference in elevations within the city is about 100 metres.
The Belarusian capital can be called not only the administrative, economic, scientific and cultural, but also the territorial centre of the country — the geographical centre of Belarus is just 70 kilometres from it.
About 2 million people live in Minsk — more than 20 percent of the total population of the country.
Minsk is the largest industrial centre of Belarus. It occupies a leading position in the formation of the gross domestic product, providing almost a third of the republican volume. Its main direction is mechanical engineering. The largest assembly enterprises operate in Minsk: the world leader in the production of agricultural machinery, the Minsk Tractor Plant, the Minsk Automobile Plant, the manufacturer of road-building and other specialised machinery and equipment Amkodor.
The leaders of the city’s electronics industry are Integral, the Gorizont electronic and household appliances plant, and the Atlant manufacturer of refrigerators and household appliances.
The food industry is represented by the Kommunarka and Slodych confectionery factories, the Minskkhlebprom enterprise, a dairy plant, a meat processing plant, etc.
The largest enterprises in the clothing industry in Minsk are Milavitsa, in the textile industry — Kamvol.
The Minsk FEZ plays a significant role.
At the Atlant plant
The Svisloch River flows through Minsk, into which six more small rivers flow within the city limits. Within the existing boundaries of the city, there are 10 main reservoirs: Komsomolskoye Lake, Chizhovka Water Reservoir, Tsnyanka Water Reservoir, Drozdy Water Reservoir, Lebyazhy Water Park, etc.
Sports and tourism
The city of Minsk is famous for its sports traditions and Olympic achievements.
Among the Minsk Olympic champions are Aleksandr Medved, Elena Belova, Aleksandr Gazov, Aleksandr Portnov, Nikolai Alekhin, Sergey Bulygin, Aleksandr Karshakevich, Tatyana Ledovskaya, Dmitry Dovgalyonok, Ellina Zvereva, Vadim Makhnev, Victoria Azarenka, Max Mirny, Darya Domracheva, Anton Kushnir, Hanna Huskova.
There are 3,724 sports facilities in Minsk: stadiums and sports grounds, swimming pools, tennis courts, a ski-roller track and other facilities. Among the largest are the Dinamo National Olympic Stadium, the Sports Palace, the Tennis Palace, the Football Arena, the Ice Palace, the Minsk-Arena and Chizhovka-Arena sports complexes, the Freestyle sports and recreation complex.
Culture and main attractions
Despite the immense destruction suffered during the Great Patriotic War, Minsk managed to preserve, restore and create its image. Today, the State List of Immovable Historical and Cultural Values of the Republic of Belarus includes 382 Minsk objects, including the historical centre of the capital as a monument of urban planning.
The Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus
The National Library of Belarus
The architectural object, unique in its beauty, called the Gates of Minsk, is the first thing that tourists see when they arrive in the capital.Minsk is a very beautiful and friendly city that gladly welcomes visitors with its city gates!
The construction of the central city highway of Minsk — Independence Avenue from Independence Square to Masherov Avenue — is a unique ensemble of the 20th century, which most fully embodied the principles of classical urban planning art.
The hallmarks of the capital of Belarus are the Victory Monument on Victory Square, the snow-white town hall on Svobody Square, the building of the National Library of Belarus, the cosy Trinity Suburb, the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Spirit and the Catholic Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, the Church of Saints Simeon and Helena (it is also called the Red Church), an Orthodox church-monument in honour of All Saints and in memory of the victims who served to save our Fatherland, the building of the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre. And, of course, the Gates of Minsk — tower buildings on Privokzalnaya Square — this is the first thing that guests see when they arrive in the capital by rail.
The title of the first Belarusian skyscraper is claimed by the House of Government — one of the few sights of Minsk that survived the occupation of the Belarusian capital intact during the Great Patriotic War.
Minsk is home to the Central Botanical Garden, which is one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe both in terms of area and the composition of collections of living plants (more than 15 thousand items).
Large-scale cultural events are held annually in the capital of Belarus, including the Minsk International Film Festival Listapad, the Minsk Starazhytny International Festival of Historical Reenactment, the Minsk International Festival of Circus Arts, various international art projects, jazz evenings, classical music evenings and holidays of national cultures.
By Svetlana Sergeeva Photos by belta, Aleksandr Kulevsky, Aleksandr gorbash, daria titova, vitaly pivovarchik