25 Sights in Minsk City
Belarus Cities - Sight in Minsk

1. Minsk City Hall

The history of Minsk City Hall is directly connected with the Magdeburg right that was granted to the city in 1499 by the Lithuanian grand duke Alexander (1461-1506). Minsk got the right to create its own institution of self-government - a city council, for the sessions of which the building of the City Hall was constructed. The first wooden building was erected in the first half of the XVI c. but the place of it remains unknown as the archeologists didn't find any rests of it. The stone building of the City Hall was built in 1582 instead of a wooden one. It stood on the territory of the Upper market, in the middle of the Cathedral square (Freedom square). During military conflicts the City Hall was repeatedly destroyed, but each time inhabitants of Minsk restored their symbol of the city. When the Russians came to power the city self-government was abolished. In the building of the City Hall at various times there was the court, a police station, a guardroom, an archive instead of the city council. In 1830 there was a musical school here and in 1847 - theatre.

Unfortunately, time and historical shocks didn't keep the building of the City Hall for us, but there are pictures and drawings left according to which in 2003 Minsk City Hall was restored as a symbol of city old times and traditions of the European sovereign city. The height of the City Hall's tower is 32 meters; there are clocks on its four sides with diameter of 1.2 meters each. On the first floor there is a hall for meetings and reception for guests of honour. On the ground floor you can find the museum of Minsk that tells about the history and sights of the city. The grand opening of the City Hall took place on the 4th of November 2004.

2. The Holy Spirit Cathedral

The building of the cathedral in baroque style was constructed in 1633-1642 as the main temple of Catholic Bernadine convent. During the XVIII-XIX cc. the temple and the convent had been reconstructed before they look the present architectural shape. In 1852 the convent was closed, and its sisters were sent to Nesvizh town. In I860 the former monastic temple was turned into the orthodox church. After ten years an orthodox monastery was opened here.
In 1918, after the closing of the monastery, the building was used for various purposes: as a sports hall, a transit prison for the dispossessed peasants. The services were renewed during WW II, in 1943. Now the Holy Spirit Cathedral is the Cathedral of Minsk. The most valuable relic is the wonder-working icon of Mother of God found in 1500. The other relic of the temple is imperishable relics of St. Sofia of Slutsk, a grand daughter of Anastasia of Sluck.

3. The National Library of Belarus

The new building of the National Library of Belarus is located in a northeast part of the city in a green zone. The building represents itself a rhomb-cube-octahedron of 72.6 m height (20 floors) and weights 115 000 tons without books). The area of the building is 19.5 thousand m2, a total area of the building is 112.6 thousand m2, including a book-depository - 54.9 thousand m2. The modern library is not only reading rooms with information search catalogues, but also social and cultural center with a multipurpose conference hall, a place for business meetings and negotiations, a musical-art hall and art galleries. Access of the removed users to resources of the National library of Belarus is provided by the Internet-portal. Owing to the portal the library is present in the global network all around the clock 365 days per year, thus, the National library of Belarus becomes the global center of information resources.
On the 16 June 2006 the grand opening of the National library of Belarus took place. The Library card No. 1 was given to the president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. Around the library there are a lot of trees and benches. In front of the library there is a monument to Francysk Skaryna.

4. Church of St. Магу the Virgin


In the historical past Roman Catholic Archicathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin was the main element of the Jesuit collegium ensemble which was in formation during the XVII-XVIII cc. Jesuits appeared in Minsk in the middle of the XVII c. In 1654 they started the creation of a monumental-architectural complex. The central place was taken by a Jesuit church (construction of 1700-1710). In 1798 the church became cathedral; after 1820 it was renamed into St. Mary's Cathedral. For a long time the Jesuit church was the highest building in Minsk.
After the war the building of the church was reconstructed for the House of physical culture. In 1990 the church was returned to believers. It's situated near the orthodox Cathedral, which proves religious tolerance that has been a typical feature of Belarus for ages.

5. Minsk City's Gates

Opposite to the modern building of the railway station, there are the symbolical "City's Gates" - two 11-storeyed towers erected on the corners of five-floor apartment houses. The Railroad square started to get its modern look in 1946-1952 when the reconstruction of all railroad area was begun under the project of Petersburg architect Boris Rubanenko. On one of the towers constructed in Stalin classicism style, there is the biggest clock in the republic - diameter of the clock-face is more than 3.5 m. This clock was made in Germany more than 100 years ago and was brought to Belarus as a military trophy after World War II. Recently eight sculptures symbolizing a worker, a collective farmer, an engineer and a soldier have been put back for 30-meter height - four sculptures per each tower. "City's Gates" are the coeval and the symbol of the post-war Minsk. They are depicted on numerous cards, posters and stamps and continue to play the important role in the silhouette of the capital.

6. Catholic Church of SS Simeon and Helena

Catholic Church of SS Simeon and Helena is a temple-memorial of the beginning of the XX c. Neo-gothic church of a red brick is erected in memory of untimely died children of a land owner Edward Woynilowicz. Asymmetric configuration of volumes, active and unexpected spatial findings connect the Red church with modernism. Besides, the silhouette, apertures, decorative zones and other components have motives of a Romance style. The church was consecrated in 1910. After the October revolution the Red church was adapted for the State Polish theatre of BSSR. After World War II the building was reconstructed and passed to the film studio «Soviet Belarus». In 1975 the House of cinema was placed there: two halls with 250 seats and a museum of cinematography in the high tower. In 1990 the structure was returned to the believers. In 1996 the bronze sculptural composition «Archangel Michael» was installed in front of the church.

7. Niezalezhnasci (Independence) Square

Niezalezhnasci (Independence) Square occupies 7 hectares and is the biggest square in Europe. The area of Independence square was built up from the end of the 19th c. Among the constructions of those times there kept a Catholic Church of SS Simeon and Helena, profitable houses No.17 and No.19 on Savieckaja street.
The ensemble of Independence square was started to be formed in the 1930s. Now it includes Government House with the monument to Lenin, the main building of the Belarusian State University, which stylistically goes in harmony with Government House, the engineering building of Minsk Metro with a small tower above the entrance, a building of Minsk City Council. The building of the Belarusian State Pedagogical University finished the ensemble. In spite of different years of construction of the buildings there is a certain composite unity in them.
Under Independence Square the underground shopping center «Stalica» (the Capital) is situated on 4 levels with a total area of 83 thousand m2. In the CIS countries there are only some underground shopping centers of the same level, for example a well-known «Okhotny Riad» on Manezhnaya square in Moscow and «Globus» in Kiev. In our country there are no analogues to «Stalica». In the shopping center there are manufactured goods shops and food shops from 30 up to 1320 square m in size; booths of remote trade of 12,3 sq. m; cafes, fast food restaurants, bars; services centers, banks branches, video stores. The place for bowling with 16 paths is planned as well as a billiard club and other objects for children and adults entertainment. A huge plus of the shopping centre «Stalica» is its closeness to the metro, to the largest transport highways - Niezalezhnasci (Independence) Avenue, Niamiha street, railway station. Visitors of the capital can make purchases in the ultramodern shopping center even if they arrive in Minsk in passing and don't have enough time.

8. SS Peter and Paul Church

SS Peter and Paul Church is one of the first stone buildings, constructed on a narrow street Rakauskaja and remained up till now as a monument of architecture of the XVII c. for two centuries it was the only orthodox temple in the city. The building was started in 1611 and was finished after two years. During wars and religious conflicts the church served as a fortress. It explains the thickness of its walls, a high arrangement of windows above the ground and presence of loopholes. In 1795 in the church there was Minsk Cathedral named after Russian empress Ekaterina, who gave money for reorganization. In the middle of the XIX c. during the restoration the temple got some features of pseudo-Russian style.
From 1991 services in church are renewed. The church is a monument of an early baroque with  elements of the Renaissance style.

9. Rakauskaje Suburb

Not each inhabitant of Minsk can show where this silent and cozy corner of the old city is. Located in the very center of Minsk, Rakauskaje suburb hides behind monotonous facades of modern multi-storey houses which separate it from the other part of the old (Lower) city. Here, on right bank of the river Niamiha, in the XII c. a trading-craft street with the Market area is formed. Peter and Paul Church, Resurrection Church and a complex of Carmelite monastery also appeared here. As time went by the Lower city and first of all Rakauskaje suburb became a place where the Jewish poor lived. During World War II on the territory of the suburb there was Minsk ghetto, where more than 100 thousand Jews were killed. At the beginning of the XX c. some the industrial enterprises appeared here. The most well-known were wall-paper factories of Shifmanovich and Epstein. Their production was sold abroad.
Today Rakauskaje suburb located between Niamiha street and Jubilejnaja square not only keeps the charm of old times, but also recreates the new shape of the historical center convenient for rest, slow conversations and walks. Cosy, original reastaurants and cafes with national cuisine and a non-standard atmosphere, such as «Rakovsky Brovar», «Talaka», «Po-Chekhovu».

10. The Upper Town

Since the 16th century the Upper Town has been the center of Minsk. On its territory there were the Upper market, The City Hall, churches, monasteries, synagogues, residences of rich people and aristocrats. Despite numerous wars and destructions which pursued Minsk all history long, the historical lay-out of the streets and quarters of the Upper town has not practically changed, many unique monuments of architecture of different epoch and styles managed to survive. The ensemble of the Upper town includes Svabody (Freedom) Square, Revalucyjnaja street, Hiercena street, Kiryly i Miafodzija street, Internacyjanalnaja street, the Muzycny lane, a part of the streets of Engels and Kamsamolskaja. The Holy Spirit Cathedral, St. Joseph's Church and Roman Catholic Archicathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin are unique monuments of architecture of the Belarus baroque.

11. Opera and Ballet Theatre

National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre is the only building (No.l) in Commune of Paris square, located on a hill, among the shady green of the park. The largest market in Minsk was situated here on Troitskaya mountain before the revolution. One could buy here everything what the Belarusian land is rich in.
The building designed by the architect Joseph Langbard in the Soviet constructivism stile, was intended as a universal construction of a «mass musical action» which would seat 3 thousand people. The hall was planned as an amphitheater, as in the Roman circus. The fantastic idea had to be changed a little: volumes on the enormous base were compressed; the auditorium was decreased up to 1500 seats. The building erected in 1935-1937, seems understated comparing to the plan. The theatre survived the war, in spite of the fact that the stable was arranged there; in 1948 the building was restored under the direction of the author. The amphitheater disappeared, the hall got the traditional form - an orchestra and three superficial circles, and the number of seats was decreased up to 1200. At the beginning of the 1960s instead of flat coverings there appeared a hump of a pitched roof.
From 2006 the building of the theatre is on reconstruction. According to the plan of the architects, the initial, pre-war shape will be returned to the building. It is supposed to recreate the ideal acoustics. Inhabitants and guests of the capital will be able to visit opera and ballet performances not earlier than 2009.
In the square in front of the theatre there is the monument to the Belarusian poet Maksim Bahdanovicz.

12. Victory Square

Victory Square used to be called Round square till 1954. Its shape had been formed even before the war when two arc houses on the main city prospect were built. The intensive construction of the whole ensemble started after 1947. On both sides of the square symmetric groups of apartment houses were built. Gardens are situated lower than the highway and smoothly pass in green parks along the river Svislacz. In 1951-1953 the bridge was built through the river. At last in 1954-1955 the composite center of the whole square was finished by a monument of the Victory. The 38-meter obelisk topped by the Victory award is put in the Belarusian capital to soldiers and the guerrillas who had fallen in fights of World War II (1941-1945). The opening of the monument took place in 1954. At the bottom of the monument «Eternal fire» was lit in 1961. Today the square has been extended, near the monument there are granite blocks with the records of the hero cities.

13. Mary Magdalene's Church

Mary Magdalene's Church became the first church in the city which was returned to believers after more than forty years of using its (and other Minsk churches') buildings as warehouses and archives. The district where the church was had a name Perespa in old because of the small river with the same name. The cemetery nearby was named Perespinskoye. Here in 1804 a small wooden church was built here. In 1835 it burned down, and in 1847 on the same place a new stone church in Russian-Byzantine style, consecrated in the name of Maria Magdalene was build. In 1904 an almshouse and church school were opened here. In 1922 under the decision of the authorities on rendering assistance to the starving all precious church subjects were confiscated. From 1949 till 1990 there were archives of film-photo-phone-documents. Domes and a bell tower were pulled down and instead of them a usual roof was put. The restoration didn't take much time (seven months). Perespinskoye (Storozhovskoye) cemetery no longer exists. In memory of all earlier buried people on it in 1993, at the 200 anniversary of Minsk diocese, a memorable sign was put near the church entrance. Today the church is not only an active orthodox temple, but also a memorable sign of the history of our city, that took an appropriate place among other modern buildings.

14. Bothanical Garden

The Central Botanical Garden of the Academy of Sciences of Belarus was founded in 1931. It is the largest preservation center of biodiversity of plants, a leading scientific institute in the field of introduction, acclimatization, physiology, biochemistry and plant ecology in the country. It belongs to the largest botanical gardens in Europe both on its area (153 hectares), and on its collections (more than 9 thousand titles). It is a kind of museum of plants from different corners of the globe, the largest green tract of the central part of the city, on the territory of which there grow more than 180 thousand trees and 800 kinds of bushes, nearly 6 thousand tropical and subtropical plants, 1500 sorts and kinds of flowers. The central avenue of a garden with memorial plantings leads the visitors to the Swan lake hidden in depth.
Minsk botanical garden is opened for visiting from May till October. But starting from 2007 one could come to the garden with an excursion even in winter. A new glass greenhouse with the area of more than 1700 м2 and diameter of 40 m and height of 18 m. Inside the greenhouse is divided into three excursion zones, each with special temperature and humidity mode for different groups of plants: "Garden of succulents", "Tropical Rainforest and a water garden-pool" and "Subtropics". On the ground floor there is a small cafe and a hall for conferences. In the center of the building, at height of 3.3 m the viewing point platform is equipped for visitors.

15. Loshyca Manor-Park Complex

Loshyca manor-park complex is a monument of manor-park art of the second half of the XIX c. It is the only suburban manor kept (a total area is more than 120 hectares) and the second (alongside with M.Gorky park). It is created on the southern suburb of Minsk where the river Loshitsa flows into the Svisloch. The first manor appeared here in the middle of the XVI c. the modern manor house was built by Evstafiy Liubansky in 1880. It is a monument of architecture of a modernist style. The complex includes a house-manor, a chapel, a house-keeper house, a watermill, a distillery, economic constructions, and a picturesque park. These are magnificent larches, oaks, pines, the exotic trees existing in the single copy. The main lime avenue (from Mayakovsky street) leads to the center of the manor. The surrounding landscape is extraordinary beautiful. The heights open wide view onto green meadows, a twisting small river, breakages and lowlands with tiny rushy marshes. On the territory of the park there is the horse club, the green market with hothouses.
Up till 2001 there was a branch of the National art museum in the manor. Nowadays the manor is being restored.

16. Minsk Culture Palace of Belsofprof

Minsk Culture Palace of Belsofprof is constructed in 1949-1954 under the project of the architect of V. Ershov. It has some halls and studios. Its main facade is turned to the October square. On the facade there is a sculptural group. Here the theatre of the Palace of culture of trade unions is situated. The hall of this theatre seats 850 people. The stage of theatre is equipped on the example of the Big Academic theatre in Moscow. Walls of the column and theatre halls are decorated with modeling. In the Palace there is a library, various leisure activity clubs. Different meetings and conferences take place here. The sports hall is equipped for sports societies of trade unions.

21. Palace of the Republic

The Palace of the Republic is a multipurpose building with the total area for 3500 seats, with an abundance of halls, cafes, administrative and artistic premises. Here gala concerts, opera and ballet performances, performances of symphonic orchestras, exhibitions, presentations, international forums, press conferences, and business meetings are hold. The palace is situated on the axis of October square. It is the last monument of the former Soviet architecture. The building has the sizes of 100x100 m with the total area of 13 hectares. The palace towers above the square on 45 m and goes on 20 m down the ground. The main official holidays of the country are celebrated here. In the Palace of the Republic there is an art gallery -The University of Culture-. Between the Palace and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War a colourful light fountain sparkles. In winter the square in front of the Palace turns to a city skating rink.

22. Jakub Kolas Square

Jakub Kolas Square is located on the historical place of Kamarouka, a remote and boggy area. From the architectural point of view the place is interesting because for the first time in formation of one of the central ensembles of the city industrial constructions were involved. The square began with the Institute of physical culture which had been built before the war (1936-1939). The old buildings were pulled down in the middle of the 1950s. At the same time printing plant and the computer plants were built. In 1957 on the face part of the square opposite to the Institute of physical culture, there appeared an 8-storeyed apartment house with a restaurant "Na Rostanyah" on the ground floor. In 1960 there grew new apartment houses and the big food store "Stolichny", the largest in the Republic. Between the houses the building of the Belarusian State Philharmonia (1963). Formation of the ensemble was finished by the erection of the Central Department Store (1964).
From 1956 the square has had the name of the Belarusian poet Jakub Kolas (before that it had been called Komarovskaya). In 1972 several monumental sculptural compositions appeared on the square: figure of a sitting, deep in his thoughts Uncle Yakub, on both sides of him there are two compositions - "Grandfather Talash" and "Symon the musician". The square is decorated with fountains and trees that protect the visitors of the square from the noise of intense city traffic.

23. Minsk Circus

The first record of the professional circus in Minsk dates back to 1853. From that time on the building of the only circus, in the form of a tent or hastily hammered together boards, moved along the city: Railroad square, Cathedral square (Freedom square), Troitskaya mountain, Komarovskoe field, Governor's park (now M. Gorky park), at last - Mikhaylovsky park. In 1930 the circus was reconstructed, but the first bombardments destroyed both a building, and animals in it.
After the war the government of the USSR made a decision to build 20 circuses in the country. The right to become the first was given to Minsk. In 1954 construction of a new building of the circus began on the crossing of Stalin prospect (Independence) and Jakub Kolas (Janka Kupala) street. Construction came to the end in 1958, and the circus was opened on February, 11th 1959. For that moment it was the biggest and the most beautiful circus in the USSR. The circus seats 1668 people; the area of the arena is 13 meters.

24. Gorky Park


The central children's park named after M. Gorky, the first public vacation place was laid out in 1800 under the initiative of one of the first Minsk governors Zahar Korneyev. It was called for a long time (up to 1917) the Governor's garden and occupied the area of 18 hectares. At the end of the XIX c. here the first stadium with a bicycle track, platforms for lawn-tennis, croquet, and a bowling alley appeared. In 1936 the park gained a new name after the writer of M. Gorky. After the war the territory of the park was expanded (up to 28 hectares), there appeared various zones of rest for children and adults, side-shows, a summer cinema.
Here basically local breeds of trees grow: a birch, a fur-tree, a mountain ash, a weeping willow. Decorative groups of centenary lindens and maples, unique copies of cedars are kept in the park. The river divides the park on two terraces. The lower part is decorated with an artificial stream and decorative reservoirs. In 1965 in park the monument to K.E.Tsiolkovsky was installed and the planetarium equipped with the complex equipment for demonstration of the star sky, the Sun, the Moon, planets, the various astronomical phenomena, flights of spacecrafts and satellites were opened. In the spring 2003 in the park a new "Ferris wheel" in diameter of 54 meters was installed. This is the favorite vacation place of Minsk inhabitants. It is possible to sit in summer cafes, to listen to music, to spend time with children, to feed ducks, to have rest in calm shadow of trees or simply to sit on a bench in silence. In city centre and at the same time far from city noise and everyday fuss.

25. Sports in Minsk

Minsk is the city which should be visited by sports and physical culture fans. One of priorities of the state policy is development of physical training and sports. According to the latest data, more than 25 % of inhabitants of the capital regularly go info sports; these figures are the highest in the republic and let name Minsk one of the most sports cities of Europe. Belarus can be proud of the fact that for 50 years of participation in the Olympic Games 61 Belarusian sportsmen among whom 34 Minsk inhabitants, received gold medals.
In the capital of republic there function 3,5 thousand sports objects, many of which are places for carrying out of large international competitions. In 1980 on Minsk stadium Dynamo the competitions of the Moscow Olympiad took place. In the past few years in Minsk a lot of prestigious international competitions have taken place such as tennis matches of Davis Cup, the championship of the Europe on biathlon, the international tournament on free-style wrestling on prizes of triple Olympic champion Alexander Medved, the Cup of the world on judo, the international tournament on sambo-wrestling on prizes of the President of Belarus, the world championship on weightlifting among juniors, the world championship on sports dances, the international competitions on art gymnastics, etc. Numerous sports, improving and entertaining complexes of the capital offer different kinds of sports activity which sports fans and tourists will certainly like.