Posted: 07.02.2024 09:59:00

Northern capital of Belarus

Vitebsk is often compared to St. Petersburg — it has a harsh climate, luxurious bridges
and a rich cultural life

The best selfie is on the background of the Uspenskaya Mountain   Photobank Lori 

Go back to the past

The city on the Dvina River is great in summer — the Slavic Bazaar will make you have fun until dawn. Yet, in winter Vitebsk has a different atmosphere. Years ago, Ivan Bunin wrote about it, “I arrived in the evening. It was frosty and bright. It was very snowy everywhere, peaceful and clean, pristine. The city seemed ancient and non-Russian to me — tall houses merged together, with steep roofs, small windows, deep and rough semicircular gates in the lower floors....”
Follow Bunin’s route: go from the railway station to the historical city centre. Here you will see the ancient Town Hall, the Baroque-style Holy Assumption Cathedral, and cobbled streets. The views of the river banks from the Kirovsky
and Pushkin Bridges are like postcards from the beginning of the last century.

Love blue like Chagall

When we talk about Vitebsk, we mean the Russian avant-garde. At the local art school, Marc Chagall and Kazimir Malevich turned over students’ ideas about painting and architecture. Yet, in public consciousness, the city is more often associated specifically with Chagall. His childhood memories, acquaintance with Bella, the opening of an art school and even work with leaflets — all this is reflected in the works of the avant-garde artist. “Paris, you are my Vitebsk!” the great artist did not hesitate to make such comparisons. 
Fabulously expensive paintings by Chagall with views of his native city have spread across continents, and modern Vitebsk pleasantly surprises fans of his work. The house on Pokrovskaya Street, where the genius grew up, has been preserved. There are cornflower blue objects there everywhere — Marc Chagall was a great lover of the blue colour. Also, you can admire the authentic works in the art centre named after him. The place was chosen not by chance —
a distinctive red house is depicted in one of the most famous paintings Above the City.

Party like Napoleon

It is known that in 1812, the French emperor stayed in Vitebsk for two weeks. “Let’s stop here! I have to pull myself together. The 1812 campaign is over.” Napoleon really was not planning to stick his nose further into the Dvina.
However, the fate of Grande Armée was decided by champagne! On the occasion of his 43rd birthday, Bonaparte 
threw a party at the Governor’s palace, which played a cruel joke on him. Just in the middle of the evening, unexpectedly for everyone, he went out on the balcony and called on all supporters to move to Moscow. What happened next is a well-known story.
The Governor-General’s palace with the same balcony has been preserved to this day. You can even get there with
an excursion — ask for tickets at the local history museum.

In the Yakub Kolas National Academic Drama Theatre, young talents shine together with people’s and honoured artists  PHOTOBANK LORI 

Unleash your emotions

A cultural city offers the same kind of rest. Four theatres in Belarus have the national theatre status — three in Minsk and one in Vitebsk — the Yakub Kolas National Academic Drama Theatre. The luxurious building with columns is located in the heart of the northern capital.
Its almost century-old history began in Moscow, where Belarusian artists honed their skills in a specially created studio at the Moscow Art Theatre. In 1926, they presented the first performance for the Vitebsk audience. A massive hit and the hallmark of the theatre is ‘Nesterka’. This comedy has been in the repertoire for over eight decades and is still relevant.

Find traces of Alexander Nevsky

Vitebsk is home to one of the most unusual monuments to the ancient Russian prince — he is not with a loyal squad, and even without a horse here. Alexander Nevsky is depicted with his eldest son in his arms and his beloved wife Alexandra Bryachislavna. It makes sense — the prince’s wife came from this place.
The city has an ancient history. The legend says that it was founded in the tenth century by Princess Olga. She chose an excellent location — on the most important trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. In the 11–12th centuries, the city was subordinated to the princes of Polotsk, Kiev, Chernigov, and Smolensk. There was a stronghold on the Zamkovaya Mountain, with settlements of artisans and merchants at its foot. The only stone building in ancient Vitebsk was the Holy Annunciation Church. Nowadays, only its reconstruction can be seen in the centre. You will find the princely couple in bronze right in front of it.
Alexander and Alexandra have been together for centuries   Belta 

By Sofia Arsenyeva