In Belarus, the countryside has been turned into a paradise for life. Do not believe? Welcome to the most uncommon agricultural towns in the country.
Dance around the campfire in Alexandria
The famous Alexandria is undoubtedly an exemplary agricultural town. This place is now mainly spoken of as the small homeland of the leader of Belarus — a museum has been opened here in his honour. Anyone can sit at the ‘presidential’ desk to become a ‘big boss’.
The village was founded at the end of the 17th century by magnate Alexander Khodkevich, and it is named after him. Peter the Great built his outposts here during the Great Northern War. And Kutuzov crossed the Dnieper River from the banks of Alexandria in 1812.
The Alexandria Gathers Friends large-scale Kupala Night festival is the main point of attraction for tourists. Songs and dances by the fire until late at night, wreaths thrown along the river, round dances and the search for fern flower — everything according to the best Belarusian traditions.
However, the agro-town does not live by the festival alone. A successful Alexandriyskoye agricultural company operates here. Therefore, here one can always take a ham or trout as a souvenir.
Have a crunch with green cucumbers in Olshany
In Russia people go to Lukhovitsy for cucumbers, but in Belarus they go to Olshany. The agricultural town in the south of the country impresses with its scale — more than 8,000 residents, two schools, three churches, restaurants, a large supermarket and a market. But the main wealth is the endless greenhouses that can be seen even from space.
Everyone without exception is engaged in greenery here: some grow, others sell, others build greenhouse labyrinths. They even erected a monument to the pimply breadwinner in the centre of Olshany — they respect it!
Eat sausages in Motol
We are heading to the south-west of the country for edible impressions. Do not be afraid of country roads. Agro-town of Motol is an economic phenomenon. The population is 4,000 inhabitants, and literally every family strive to become entrepreneurs: they bake bread, dry fish, plant potatoes and, of course, sell all this themselves. No matter how many chain supermarkets try to break into this place, they cannot compete with local retail shops.
Sausages are the main crafts of Motol residents. Meat traditions originated in the distant 1930s, when a local resident Stepan Minyuk became the first to make Belarusian sausages for sale. Today there are three sausage shops. They ‘create’ the goods for Brest, Minsk, Grodno and all the nearest regional centres. They even export it to Moscow!
Once every two years, Motol gathers food lovers at the Motol Treats gastrofest. They determine whose product is fatter, juicier and more aromatic in fair competition. Furthermore, they treat everyone in a row, but they don’t reveal the grandfather’s secrets of the taste to anyone.
Admire ‘Notre-Dame’ in Budslav
Either a sign or an accident. One of the most beautiful churches in Belarus almost died in a fire in May last year — now it is being restored by the whole world. Almost like Notre-Dame Cathedral.
The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in Budslav in 1783. ‘God chose this place as a shelter for sinners’, according to legend, the local monk heard such words one night from the Virgin Mary. People believed him and built a majestic temple in the Vilna Baroque style.
They say that the church was saved from complete destruction by one of the most revered Catholic shrines of Belarus kept there — the Budslav Icon of the Mother of God. The image in the gilded setting has an interesting story: at the end of the 16th century, Pope Clement VIII presented it to the Minsk voivode Jan Pac. It works wonders from time immemorial. The faithful ask for healing from cancer, infertility, alcoholism or help after complex operations. The string of pilgrims to the agricultural town of Budslav does not end in winter or in summer.
Take a look at thousands of years ago in Yurovichi
A modern agro-town in the Kalinkovichi District welcomes tourists with quiet streets and well-maintained houses. A school, a club, a hospital, a monastery… and a Paleolithic campsite!
Archaeologists have established that the first Belarusians settled here more than 26,000 years ago. Up to 25 people lived in tribal communities in dugouts and tents made of skins. They also ate mammoths — they left a lot of tusks behind. The Yurovichi School has an impressive collection of bones of fossil animals and household items of the local Cro-Magnons. It has been collected for over 60 years. High school students are the tour guides here. They will take you along secret paths to primeval sites and tell you how the modern bison differs from the prehistoric one.
The idea of agricultural towns originated in the 1930s in the Soviet Union, but in practice it was implemented only in Belarus today. It’s like a village, but also like a city. There is everything for comfort amid a picturesque pastoral: running water, gas and asphalt. As well as supermarkets, schools and hospitals. But the main thing is a stable job with a decent salary. All these are indispensable conditions for an ordinary village to receive the status of an agro-town and be able to count on state support.