Razed to the ground during World War II, this reconstructed city of around two million people is clean, modern and green. And it does not have an old town like other European cities.
If you’re looking for a new European destination to explore, look no further and go to Minsk. Here are Travelmath’s five things to do in Minsk:
1. Enjoy Minsk city tour
A guided city tour is a perfect way to discover the unique architectural landmarks, Soviet architecture, and spot Lenin statues in Minsk. Since over 80 percent of Minsk was destroyed during the war, most of what you’ll see are Soviet-style buildings.
All guided bus tours will include a drive through the 15 km (9.3 miles) Independence Avenue (Prospect Nezavisimosti), the famous wide boulevard. These guided tours usually stop at Independence Square, Freedom Square, Victory Square, and Minsk Gates.
Here are some of the landmarks and buildings to look out for:
- Church of Saints Simeon and Helena
- KGB Headquarters
- Belarusian Government Building
- Main Post Office
- GUM Departmental Store
- Palace of the Republic
- Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
- Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre of Belarus
National Library of Belarus (one of the world’s most unusual buildings) – 23 floors, an observation deck, and 4,646 color-changing RGB LED fixtures.
Besides the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, the Upper Town of Minsk is where you’ll see the town hall, Jesuit College and monuments that tell the history and stories of Minsk.
2. Visit Trinity Suburb
Trinity Suburb is the historic part of Minsk where reconstruction is underway. Located on the bank of Svislach River, the entire area was destroyed between the 1930s and 1960s. You can find out more about the history of Trinity Suburb by visiting Troitskaya Pharmacy, Venok Store, the House of Nature and The Living Room of Vladislav Golubok.
Next to Trinity Suburb is the Island of Tears, a memorial commemorating Belarussian soldiers who lost their lives in the Afghanistan war.
3. Try Belarusian food
Belarusian cuisine is a mix of Baltic, Jewish, Slavic, and German cuisines and is similar to Russian, Polish and Ukrainian dishes. Here are some of the traditional Belarusian foods to try:
- Draniki (potato pancakes)
- Babka (potato pies)
- Vereshchaka (sausages)
- Kletski (dumplings)
- Machanka (pork stew)
- Pike perch (local fish)
4. Shop in a Soviet-style store
Don’t miss the city’s famous GUM Department Store, the Soviet-style store in the heart of the city. The store features classical Soviet-style architecture, high columned ceilings, central marble staircases, and female workers in khaki-colored uniform. It’s like stepping back in time to departmental stores of the 50s and 60s.
5. Join a day trip to Mir and Nesvizh Castles
Drive 76 miles southwest of Minsk to Nesvizh Castle, Belarus’ most beautiful and well-known palace. Owned by the Radziwil family from the 16th century until the Red Army took over in 1939, the castle became a sanatorium after World War II.
Nesvizh Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a mix of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicism and Neo-Gothic architecture. The interior of the castle is filled with history and stories of the Radziwil dynasty and their influence in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany. You’ll see period furniture, hunting trophies, armor, artwork and more.
Mir Castle is another UNESCO World Heritage Site worth visiting. The Gothic-style castle was started in the 1520s by Duke Ilinich, but when Mikolay Radziwil took over in 1568, he blended Renaissance style into the existing building.