|Minsk, the Capital of Belarus|
|Belarus Cities - MINSK|
MINSK or Menesk, as the chronicles called Minsk in the year 1067, was founded on the banks of the Svislach River and the Niamiha River at the end of the 11th century as a result of movement from an older settlement (16 km from the present-day Minsk) on the Menka River, to which the city owns its name. Originally, it was a wooden fortress close to the Prince's yard that was enclosed with earthen walls and houses of townsmen, built over the territory within the walls. In the 12th century, with the first stone temple erected there, Minsk became the center of apanage principality separated from the Polatsk Land where the foundations of Belarusian statehood were laid.
Having joined the Great Lithuanian Duchy (GLD), Minsk turned out to be among 15 largest towns of the state, and in 1499 it was granted the Magdeburg Right to self-government. In the year 1566, Minsk became the center of the Minsk Province and district. The seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal of GLD was also there.
From that time onward the Upper Market - the present-day Square of Freedom and its adjacent streets - became the focus of administrative, cultural and spiritual life of the town. Up to now the buildings of three Catholic and two Uniate Monasteries, rows of stalls, dwelling houses, associated with the names of many remarkable people, remained there. The recently reconstructed City Hall imparts an air of architectural integrity to this cozy nook of the city.
In the vicinity of the Upper Market the Trinity suburb was founded where merchants and tradesmen settled down and bustling fairs were held. Among the survived buildings there are mainly old dwelling houses transformed into shops, coffee-houses, taverns, museums, etc.
At the end of the 18th century, being a part of the Russian Empire, Minsk became the center of the largest and dynamically developing Belarusian province. That was decisire for its further fate: on January 1, 1919 the city was given the status of a capital. World War II left the ghastly ruins in place of the former Minsk, but it was revived by the end of 1950s. At present this is a megapolis, the population of which is over 1 million 700 thousand people. Its arterial street - the Nezalezhnasti Avenue of more than 10 kilometers in length - is considered to be a unique monument of architecture and urban development in post-war Europe.