Statehood is the most important value and testifies to the nation’s ability to develop independently — the President of Belarus is convinced of this, and this point of view has found a warm resonance in the hearts of Belarusians. Belarusian statehood has its own history and foundations. As well as unique and unshakable symbols, institutions and traditions. The Belarusian Statehood project of The MT tells about the main ones.
The Palace of Independence turns 10. But it has already become not just a symbol of the sovereign country, but its centre.
The most grandiose material symbol of our statehood — the Palace of Independence — allows you to discover Belarus, see the uniqueness of its history and culture, the impressive achievements of independence and the sovereignty of modern times. It is here, in the northwestern part of Minsk, on the banks of the Svisloch River, that the residence of the President of the Republic of Belarus is located, where high-level negotiations are held, meetings on the most important domestic and foreign policy issues, and meetings of the Head of State with representatives of Belarusian and world media are held. The modern history of the country is being written here.
10 year anniversary
The Palace of Independence opened its doors to the first distinguished guests 10 years ago. From October 24th to October 25th, 2013, a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and a summit of the Heads of State of the CIS took place here, which began the history of the new building.
The decision to build an administrative and representative complex — a symbol of the country’s sovereignty and independence — was made by the President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko in 2011.
The task set by the Head of State was not an easy one: to create an official ceremonial site unique for Belarus in a fairly short time, the appearance and interior decoration of which should echo national, cultural and historical motifs. Design and construction were carried out in parallel, they lasted only 30 months instead of the originally planned 58.
The chief architect of the Palace of Independence was Vladimir Arkhangelsky. Under his leadership, a large team of professionals from the Minskproekt enterprise and other organisations worked scrupulously to create a coherent image of the building and each of its individual premises, masterfully weaving tradition and modernity into design elements.
Despite the fact that the Palace of Independence is one of the youngest administrative buildings in the country, it has already entered the annals of world history, becoming a symbol not only of Belarusian independence, but also of Belarus’ peacekeeping efforts on the world stage. In February 2015, the fateful Normandy Four summit took place here. Political leaders from Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France arrived in Minsk to participate in the negotiations, which lasted more than 15 hours.
Since then, the Green Hall, used for private conversations in a small circle, has gained worldwide fame. This is what participants in numerous excursions around the Palace of Independence especially like to see — participants in various meetings and ceremonies with the President, the best representatives of various sectors of the country’s national economy, Belarusian and foreign journalists, talented youth. Taking a selfie at a table that has gathered world leaders is worth a lot! However, just like seeing in the President’s office — in the holy of holies of our state — a unique symbol of Belarusian statehood: the first copy of the current Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, which is an exclusive museum exhibit.
During the Normandy Four talks in the Green Hall
The property of the entire Belarusian nation
The halls of the Palace of Independence, as a cultural heritage of the entire Belarusian nation, were open for excursions by personal order of the President.
The tradition of excursions to the main symbol of Belarusian statehood was founded on July 22nd, 2015, by 90 young men and women — participants in the international youth trade union educational forum TEMP-2015. For two and a half hours, they examined the interiors of the Palace of Independence, its courtyard, the Alley of Honoured Guests, and the work rooms of the residence. Since then, excursions to the country’s sovereign interiors have become regular.
The first thing that visitors to the Palace of Independence usually pay attention to is the grandiose and bright Hall of Ceremonies.
Hall of Solemn Ceremonies
This main palace hall is decorated with a copy of the Slutsk belt. In December 2013, another element of the Palace of Independence began counting down the history of solemn ceremonies — the Hall for Presenting Credentials. That day, there, near the bas-reliefs with lines from the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the books of Francysk Skaryna, 10 ambassadors began their diplomatic missions: Zambia, Spain, Cuba, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Oman, Slovenia, Uganda and France. A bright exhibition of Belarusian achievements In addition, there is the National, Red, Kaminny and a whole suite of other halls. Each of them contains beauty and grandeur.
Slutsk belt. Copies from the original from the second half of the 18th century. Silk, gold thread, weaving
A bright exhibition of Belarusian achievements
The palace also has its own winter garden with terraces and a fountain, on both sides of which the sculptural bronze compositions Neman River and Pripyat River rise on pedestals. Allegorical compositions of famous Belarusian rivers in the form of female and male figures hold in their hands vessels from which streams of water flow — a symbol of life and prosperity.
In the Winter Garden
At the same time, the Palace of Independence is also a unique, bright and convincing exhibition of the achievements of our country. The monumental masterpiece, created almost entirely from domestic materials, became not only the architectural pearl of Minsk, but also a presentation of the enormous capabilities, knowledge, skills and multifaceted talent of Belarusians. The frame of the unique building was made by the Molodechno Metal Structures Plant, the granite and marble ‘clothing’ of the palace was processed in Gatovo near Minsk, the tables were made at Bobruiskmebel, Molodechnomebel and Pinskdrev, the tapestries were made at the A.M. Kishchenko Decorative and Applied Arts Combine in Borisov, and giant windows — at the GLASSBEL double-glazed and architectural glass plant in Minsk. All stages of construction, from the erection of metal structures to decoration, were under the personal control of the President. Moreover, the Head of State himself even took part in developing the design of one of the halls.
The Palace’s large ceremonial chandeliers — real works of art
The interiors of each room are unique, but all are designed in a classic style. The Belarusian flavour is given by the widespread use of national ornaments, primarily the motifs of Slutsk belts. Traditional Belarusian patterns are present in many interior elements; they are easily recognisable in marble, metal, mosaic, parquet, artistic painting of walls and ceilings.
A special pride is the 23 grandiose chandeliers and more than 150 sconces, manufactured at the Cascade located in the city of Lida. The large ceremonial chandeliers of the Cascade now often appear on television screens when official events and meetings at the highest government level are being reported from the Palace of Independence.
This is a symbol and it is very important
The Palace of Independence fits harmoniously into the capital quarter, which is significant for all Belarusians: next to the palace is the State Flag Square, a little further away — Victory Park, the Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War History and the famous Minsk — Hero City Stele.
The Palace of Independence has become a solemnly official and warmly warm embodiment of national statehood, based on deep traditions and looking to the future.
Banners of the BSSR, government awards, which remind about the special achievements of our country during the Soviet Union
In October 2013, speaking at a colloquium before students of the Mogilev State University named after A.A. Kuleshov, the President spoke on this matter very clearly, “Look at this centre — State Flag Square, the restored BelExpo, where we exhibit the highest achievements of our people, and the Palace of Independence is a symbol, and for the country, as for any person, this is very important. Especially now when we want to present ourselves. With this centre we emphasised that we have created our own state.”
Art gallery and treasury
The Palace of Independence is not only a platform for important events, but also a place to get acquainted with the culture, history and traditions of Belarus.
The interiors of the palace were repeatedly decorated with exhibitions of famous Belarusian artists, designers, photographers, sculptors, and talented aspiring authors.
The first exhibition project at the Palace of Independence was an exhibition of paintings by the Belarusian artist, Honoured Artist Valery Shkarubo, organised in the spring of 2017. It began a new tradition of presentations of national art and creativity at the Palace of Independence.
In addition, the Palace is also a unique museum in Belarus. On the third floor of the building there is a real treasury containing gifts to our President from foreign colleagues, high-ranking political figures, delegations, diplomats and athletes, and other world famous persons. Here you can see paintings, panels, icons, souvenir swords with openwork inlay, towels, national clothes, decorative vases and dishes, figurines and sculptures from the CIS countries, Bolivia, Venezuela, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, China, Cuba, Kuwait, Mozambique, Myanmar, Palestine, Serbia, Ukraine, South Korea and other parts of the planet. Moreover, this collection is constantly updated with new unique elements.
In the Museum of Gifts
Alley of Honoured Guests
Its ceremonial laying took place in 2013 on the eve of the official opening of the Palace of Independence. On October 23rd, the President and his sons planted the first spruce on the alley, thereby starting a tradition. Nowadays there are trees planted here by political leaders of different countries, including President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
You can visit the Palace of Independence right now and see its interiors without leaving home by taking a virtual tour on the website of the President of Belarus president.gov.by
By Maksim Osipov Photos by belta, Darya Titova, Aleksandr Kulevsky