Posted: 09.02.2023 17:42:00

More than a museum

There are many attractions in Gomel, but the Palace and Park Ensemble is undoubtedly the main one. Even the city itself was designed by its former owners in such a way that three central streets lead exactly here. The fate of the city at one time was determined by two noble families — the Rumyantsevs and the Paskeviches. They also left this luxurious tourist site to the Gomel residents. And most recently, the team of the State Historical and Cultural Institution Gomel Palace and Park Ensemble became the winner of the special prize of the President of the Republic of Belarus for people of culture and art in 2022 for a great contribution to the development of museum work, the implementation of exhibition projects to preserve the historical memory of the Belarusian people.

All the streets lead to the two-story palace in the style of classicism — this is the very heart of the city

Appreciate the gift of Catherine the Great

The history of Gomel has almost nine centuries. The heyday of the city began after Empress Catherine the Great donated land on the high bank of the Sozh River to Count Pyotr Rumyantsev in 1775. According to legend, she did it with the wording ‘for fun’. The eminent commander, having retired, loved to live in style. The best architects, engineers and builders were sent to Gomel from St. Petersburg.

Adam Idzkovski. The view of the Gomel Palace. 1840’s. Canvas, oil painting.
Photo by Ivan Yarivanovich

The result of their efforts impresses with beauty and wealth. It took 20 years to build the unique for its time palace-house at the end of the 18th century. The standard was exceedingly high: so that it would not be a shame to accept the empress herself. All the streets lead to the two-story palace in the style of classicism — this is the very heart of the city. The exterior decoration has been preserved almost in its original form, restorers have tried to reshape the interior. Hall of Columns, White and Red living rooms. And even the ‘golden’ dining room!

Dance at the provincial ball

Nowadays, the Palace and Park Ensemble is one of the main museum complexes of the Gomel Region. Rare artefacts are kept here. There are archaeological, ethnographic, numismatic collections, collections of paintings, handwritten and early printed books, icons and religious objects.
The palace and the park, as before, are used for their intended purpose — for important meetings and balls.


Couples waltz around the Hall of Columns regularly. Gomel ladies are happy to try on crinolines, and the gentlemen pick up tailcoats for this occasion. Dos-a-dos, traversé, moulinet? Locals do not need to explain what it means. By tradition, one of the most magnificent balls after Christmas is arranged by the governor of the region. To receive an invitation, young people need to show themselves in studies, creativity or sports. 

The famous commander,
hero of the Patriotic War of 1812,
is buried in the tomb

Visit the hosts

The central element of the ensemble is a park of 34 hectares, which is separated by the Lebyazhy Pond. In the southern part, the majestic Peter and Paul Cathedral has been preserved. It was erected at the beginning of the 19th century on the initiative of Nikolay Rumyantsev (Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire). Despite his love for St. Petersburg, the count bequeathed to bury himself in Gomel. And so it happened.
Not far from the temple, a modest in size, but magnificent in decoration, chapel-tomb hid. It looks like a castle from a fairy tale. Elegance and fragility — thanks to sculptural kokoshniks, rosettes, cornice belts, gilded domes and coloured ceramics. Majolica tiles, decorated with ancient Russian ornaments, give special beauty to the facades. The princes Paskeviches, who owned the palace after the Rumyantsevs, are buried underground in the family vault. However, one can take a tour there.

See summer in winter

If one crosses the Lebyazhy Pond on the bridge of the 19th century and walk a little, one will find oneself at the cosy Winter Garden. This building was originally built for a sugar factory, but since 1877 the owners of the palace converted it into a greenhouse. About twenty species of subtropical plants grow here and now: magnolia, palm trees, evonymus, coffee tree, fig, ficus tree, noble laurel, lemon, avocado. Employees are proud to say that the oldest tree is a fan palm, planted in 1888.
Children will also like the Winter Garden: there are many colourful aquarium fish, freshwater turtles, decorative rabbits and guinea pigs. 

Soar over Sozh River

A forty-metre tower rises above the park. This is not a brand new one. Once it was part of the complex of the Paskeviches sugar factory, and now it serves as an observation platform. For the sake of a beautiful view, tourists have to overcome 190 steps. But as a reward — one can see the breathtaking landscapes of Sozh River.

During the Great Patriotic War, the building was seriously damaged by shelling and was in disrepair for a long time. The reconstruction was carried out in the 2000s, but traces of bullets and shrapnel on the old brick can still be seen there.

 By Sofia Arsenyeva