7 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Belarus
While often overlooked by tourists, Belarus is a Slavic country which has developed a reputation for being slightly unusual, with time-warp elements that give it a slightly otherworldly atmosphere. Indeed, only 60 years ago the Belorussians chose to break away from the Soviet Union rather than be annexed. And despite the size of their modest (but hospitable) population, the country retains a pretty provincial character, with a growing independence spirit and an old-world charm that might be difficult to find elsewhere in Europe.
Belarus has always been a land of forests and plains; indeed, much of it is defined by the winding Dnipro River, with its heavily wooded banks and lush wetlands. The climate is generally temperate, with subarctic conditions being found only on the northern shore. One thing most visitors won't notice on their first trip to Belarus is the country's rich folk culture, which has a subtle and colorful charm of its own.
Belarus has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, and a range of accommodations is available, with tour operators offering traditional holidays to the country, some interesting B&B options, and a growing number of boutique hotels.
We present here a brief introduction to the country, outlining its attractions for visitors, with a list of the top tourist attractions in Belarus.
The Brest Fortress is not to be confused with a European Brest Castle and represents the country's easternmost land border with Poland. The fortress was first built in 1708 to protect against the Swedish and Polish invasion of Belarus and houses the remains of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. The fortress houses a presidential museum and several smaller museums and theatres, making this visit a bit of an over-all experience.
Belarus has a medieval old town located in the center of the country, close to its capital, Minsk. This once-important center, founded as Riga, is full of historic buildings, and is not a museum in itself, but is the heart of a dynamic city. The Old Town has one of the best-preserved old towns in Europe. The most important buildings include the Royal Theater, the State Historical Museum, the St. Gregory the Illuminator the Trinity Cathedral, the bell tower, the Khvostov Palace and the magnificent Catherine Palace. The churches and cathedrals, the St. Michael's Church, St. Alexander Nevsky's Church and the ancient Viska Cathedral are worth visiting. All in all, this place is fascinating.
Vitebsk, or Vitebsky as it's sometimes referred to, is one of Belarus' major cities, built with a purpose of protecting the river basin in this river city's humid northern section. The Vitebsk National Historical and Art Museum displays a collection of unique 19th century interior design trends. The city dates back to the early Middle Ages and is a major Belarusian railway hub. Besides the historic city center, note the striking Art Nouveau buildings in the Khrabrovo and Shchastie districts. During the years of Soviet rule, Vitebsk became famous for being the winter home of writer Yanka Kupala.
Located around 500 kilometers from the Polish capital Warsaw in southern Belarus, Pinsk has an exceptional museum dedicated to its history, the Medna, Pinsk's town hall. Built in 1924 and expanded in 1980, it is set on the bank of the river Narew, a historic border, with the former Polish border station on its other side. The building has two levels: on the first floor is the former residence of the Polish president and president of the Supreme Court; the ground floor houses various exhibition halls, including the collection of modern art of Pinsk art enthusiasts and supporters. The best part of this museum is that it offers a panoramic view of the river and nearby land, a magnificent sensation for a location that feels as isolated as the former palace of a sovereign. Indeed, there is a ring road around it, but most of the town remains unvisited by the most curious of travelers, who are more likely to stay away from the town's prettiness, which can only be appreciated at nighttime.
Grodno (Groda) is a sprawling, beautiful city, home to 40,000 people. Located in the north of Belarus on the banks of the River Neman, Grodno has a large university (the region is home to a number of educational and research institutions) and a popular cultural and recreational center. Unlike many cities in Belarus, Grodno isn't actually in the country: its city center is in Poland, near the border. It's more than 10 kilometers from the Russian border and 40 kilometers from the Polish one. However, the border crossings can be inconvenient for travelers, as some day trips or weekend visits might take longer than the permitted 24-hour time limit. Regardless of which side of the border you are on, it's easy to reach Grodno from Vilnius (the capital of Lithuania and the gateway to Belarus) via buses or trains. For example, an 8-hour trip by train costs from 1,350 Russian rubles (US$32). If you are interested in visiting the Museum of Grodno or the Grodno Fortress, both located in Grodno's city center, you need to make reservations in advance. Grodno is situated on the bank of the Neman river, a large and navigable waterway.
From history to architecture and the Belarusian language, Vitebsk is a region full of distinct flavors. It's in the north of the country, at the confluence of the Minsk and the Neman rivers. Vitebsk Region is also the center of Belarus's wine industry. Explore the majestic Seven Brothers Winery for an up-close look at production. Its elaborately decorated tasting rooms are also one of the few remaining of their kind. Also visit the region's grand hotels. These grand old edifices retain a feeling of luxury. Many offer classes and workshops to help you learn the art of vodka and wine tasting. Vitebsk is also the place to savor world-class wine at one of its many wine shops. The region is known for its sweet white Muscat grapes. Try some Vitebsk vinogràce (sweet wine) in a Vitebsk shop or stop at a café and sip it to go.
Mogilev Region in the western part of Belarus, is a province of a city - Mogilev, which is one of the largest city in Belarus. It's the Capital of Mogilev Region. Mogilev Region also is well known for - ancient buildings and architecture. The town of Mogilev is a magnificent historic city with a number of outstanding cultural monuments and a bright future, while not forgetting its rich traditional culture, which remains vibrant to this day. The old town is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mogilev has been a crossroads for more than 2,000 years, offering multiple opportunities for history, culture, and sightseeing. There are plenty of activities to choose from when in Mogilev. A visit to the ancient ruins of Mogilev Fortress, a stone-walled complex of three magnificent towers from different historical periods, offers a good glimpse into the history of the region. Other popular sights include the St. Michael the Archangel Church, built in the 13th century, the Jewish Synagogue, the Bogdan Khmelnitsky Church, a large Eastern Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg style, and the St. Sava Church, a striking example of a Russian Orthodox Church in central Europe.