Oct 09

Białowieża Forest (Padurea Bialowiza)

The Bialowieza Forest is located at the borderline between Belarus and Poland. The forest is actually the sole remaining portion from the vast forest that used to spread over the European Plain.

This article will solely look into the section of the Bialowieza Forest which is located in Belarus and which can be found at just 70 km north of the Belarusian town, Brest.  This is a natural biosphere which expands over more than 1,500 square kilometers, but the area the National Park consists of and which has been recognized as a World Heritage Site stretches over 876 square kilometers.

http://wildzone.it

The natural reserve also comprises different types of facilities designated for the supervision and reproduction of animal life , as well as a zoo in which various species have found their home. This community consists of wisents, wild horses, wild boars, etc. While some of these animals have been reared inside the park, there are others which have their roots in these forests. The area has been once especially arranged so as to boost tourism and attract visitors to the area. Thus a restaurant was constructed, a small museum, and even accommodation facilities. But these were mainly built during the Soviet regime and the passage of time and lack of maintenance services had led to the deprecation of these facilities. The result was and is that not many venture into this part of the country and thus the area is not visited as it ought to be, especially since it seems a piece of heaven.

http://www.flickr.com

The Bialowieza Forest has a vast history. While the woodland was initially explored solely along the banks of streams, this later changed as several bridges and roads were constructed so as to ease traveling inside the forest.

The first legal document in which the forest is mentioned as a protected area goes back to the 16th century (1538), when King Sigismund I the Old issued a decree according to which anyone hunting wisents in the forest was sentenced to death.   The administration of the forests was bestowed on peasants who were acquitted of paying taxes in exchange of their commitment to taking care of the forest.

http://www.smz.waw.pl

In 1992, the area became a part of the World Heritage List and it became widely recognized as a natural biosphere, protected under the UNESCO Program.

The part of the Bialowieza Forest which is located in Belarus has turned into an important tourist attraction mainly because an additional facility was constructed, the New Year Museum.

The beauty of the forest is striking as the woodland comprises a considerable number of ancient oak trees. Some of these grand trees are individually named due to their impressive characteristics. Their height and circumferences are colossal making the beholders see themselves as small and insignificant in front of the grandeur of these exquisite examples of nature.

http://www.123rf.com

For example, the Great Mamamuszi is among the thickest oak trees in the forest, its circumference reaching almost 7m. From all the ancient oak trees that exist in this part of the forest, this is the most relevant example, mainly because it is in the best condition possible, whereas the others show signs of decay. For instance, there is one such tree whose branches are no longer covered with leaves, while another misses its bark. But the rest of them are still standing proudly, and have reigned over the forest for 450 years – this is the age they are estimated to hold.

Sep 24

Logoysk (Orasul Logoysk)

The city of Logoysk is located on the bank of the river Gayna at 40 kilometers from the Belarusian capital, Minsk. The region bears the name of “Belarusian Switzerland” due to the fact that it encompasses a beautiful natural environment which has not been exposed to the intervention of man. It is no wonder that the residents of the city, but more importantly, tourists, are mesmerized by the wonderful scenery they are presented with.

The exact moment when the city came into being is unknown, but the first document which mentions Logoysk dates from the 11th century. Throughout its existence, the city has been destroyed twice: at the beginning of the 16th century (by the ruthless hands of the Tartars) and in the 18th century, by Swedes.

http://www.belarustourism.by

The region has been home to numerous famous writers that have drawn their inspiration from the nature surrounding them. Thus several of the most renowned classical Belarusian pieces of literature were written in Logoysk. And the most accurate example is Yanka Kypala, the author of “Paylinka”, “The Lion’s Grave” and “Bandaroyna,” all of them having been instilled with life in this specific town.

Visitors to the area will indulge themselves with a one-of-a-kind tour as the city offers a complex tableau where history, religion and nature intertwine. Among the places worth visiting are the remnants of the 11th century citadel, two dwellings which have been erected in the ancient times as well as the ruins of trenches and watercourses which have been built in the past. In terms of spiritual transcendence, there is one religious house which you might consider worthy of your time. This is Saint Nicolas Church which dates from the middle of the 19th century (1845). The ruins of the fortress in the light of the sun, as it is mirrored in the crystal clear water of the Gayna River offer an impressive image, one which almost seems depicted from legends.

http://lt.wikipedia.org

The city is also home to a museum of antiquities where the past is retraced from bits and pieces. Whether we are talking about works of art, about household items which were used in antiquity or fragments of weaponry and tools, these are contained within the museum, offering a general presentation of the past.

The museum, together with several monuments which are spread throughout the city and burial places are meant keep the memory of the Great Patriotic War alive.

http://en.wikipedia.org

 

But there are other attractions as well, and sport lovers will be interested to learn that in close proximity of Logoysk they can find a skiing sports and fitness center where people can perform their favorite sports. In fact, the place is renowned throughout Belarus for the skiing and snowboarding facility it offers. It is no wonder that the complex is used regularly for various events. Both national and international sports competitions are held at the center on a yearly basis. There are other festivals as well which are organized here and the themes which revolve around them vary from fashion to art and beverage. So there is something for every taste.

Those interested in mythical stories will be pleased to find out that there is a park which is shrouded in mystery and which abounds in enigmatic tales. It is enough to listen to some of the stories which are told by the elderly and to let your imagination run wild and you will instantly awake as part of a legend.

Sep 10

Dudutki Ethnographic Museum (Muzeul Etnografic Dudutki)

Dudutki Ethnographic Museum is located in Belarus, at about 40 km distance from Minsk. Tourists are probably interested in one thing: “Is the museum worth visiting? The answer to this question is definitely ‘Yes’. Because the items on display represent the past and present intertwined. While some might not be interested in learning anything about the historical evolution of a specific country, it should be reminded that each fragment of the past contributes to the more general setting in which we all live in the present.

The exhibitions consist of a multitude of items made out of clay, steel or wood, each with a craftsmanship that cannot be easily surpassed.

http://www.unavitaverde.net

The cultural institution was founded in 1993 and it expands over 160 hectares. The museum is actually created in the open space, where everything is presented as it would have been set in its natural setting. This museum is actually a 19th century estate which has been owned by the then residents of Dudutki for 130 years. At present, the museum is undergoing a renovation in the sense that the administration is trying to construct a replica of the way in which the Belarusian village presented itself in the 18th, 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. These unique representations of rural life in its different hypostases have drawn tourists from all over the world because it allows individuals to discover not only the way in which people in the countryside led their life, but they can also unveil the secrets of ancient crafts.

 

http://www.vip365.by

What is it that Dudutki Ethnographic Museum has to offer? Tourists will have the opportunity not only to see the 19th century craftsmanship brought to life in the 21st century, but they will also be able to bring a piece of the past back with them into the present. You will have the chance to take a souvenir with you, such as a ceramic object designed on the spot for you by people who masterfully control this art.

You will get to see an actual windmill and have a taste of homemade dairy products, which still preserve their original taste, having been created using the ingredients and cooking methods of the past. There is also an old blacksmith’s shop where you can actually see the blacksmith at work.

http://www.vip365.by

Everything still preserves the authentic feel of an 19th century village so you will have no problem in allowing yourself to be transposed to older times when life seemed to have been much simpler.  If anything, a visit to the museum will please the senses and relax the mind, offering a great experience to tourists wandering around Minsk.

Aug 30

Lida Castle (Castelul Lida)

Lida Castle has been constructed at the beginning of the 14th century by the order of the Grand Duke Gediminas who intended to protect his lands regardless of the price paid. His worry for a possible invasion was natural taking into account that the Teutonic Knights were looking to develop and enhance their properties.

In fact, Lida Castle is but a part in the defense mechanism developed by the duke. The system consisted of various fortifications erected in the towns of Hrodna, Medininkai, Navahrudak, Kreva and Trakai.

The castle is strategically positioned as it is naturally defended on two sides, the eastern and the western parts, by the Lida and Kamenka rivers. The stone walls of the fortifications were erected between 1323 and 1325, this timeframe also being characterized by the construction of two towers and a church.

http://infmir.ru

Despite his strong desire to defend his lands, the Grand Duke did not succeed to fulfill his goal as the castle fell under the ruling of the Teutonic Knights two times: in 1384 and then in 1392.

The history of the castle is quite tumultuous in the sense that the fortification was ravaged by the destructive forces of warfare on many occasions. Thus, it was pillaged by the Crimean Tatars in the first years of the 16th century and then later on, in the second half of the 17th century, by the Russian soldiers (during the Russo-Polish War).

Probably the most important event which was extremely detrimental to the castle consisted of the time when it was taken over by the Swedish soldiers, who had decided to destroy the two guarding towers.

Near the end of the 19th century, the Lida Castle caught fire and the result was that several dwellings were destroyed. In order to help with the rebuilding process of these lodgings, it had been agreed upon “dismantling” the western wall rock by rock. This was meant to provide easy access to the houses destroyed by fire and thus accelerate their restoration.

http://angelofdiscernment.blogspot.ro

 

After the 1900s, the scope of the fortification shifted 360°. The location was used by wandering circuses and zoos, having been transformed into an entertainment center, the fact that it represented an important historical site seemed to have gone out of everyone’s mind.

The restoration work for the castle was initiated as late as 1982 and while several sections were rebuilt, having regained their former appearance, the real renovation took place in 2010, when the castle was significantly improved.

Since it recovered its former glory, the castle has been steadily and surely transformed into a real cultural institution. There is a medieval tournament organized on an annual basis and at present, tourists can visit the museum which has been arranged inside the remaining tower of the castle.

http://www.belarus.by

It is important to accurately depict the value of this castle. As the previous paragraphs clearly underline, Lida Castle is extremely rich in historical events, everything that had happened throughout time at this site contributed to defining the Belarusian evolution, and more precisely the development of the town of Lida.

Why has this specific castle become such a renowned tourist attraction? Because the municipality knew precisely how to promote the fortification so as to allure tourists and convince them to pay Lida a visit. For instance, in the wintertime, the courtyard of the castle is modified so as to favor ice skating.

http://www.panoramio.com

 

It can be concluded that the castle incorporates both the past and the present. While the edifice in itself stands for the historical times, the events organized with regularity within the castle are representative for the present, thus attracting visitors with their entertaining activities.

At present, Lida Castle is protected by the state, having been declared an archeological monument back in 1940, and having been listed among the monuments which form the state heritage in 1953.

Aug 01

The Mir Castle (Castelul Mir)

The Mir Castle is located in the Belarusian city, Mir, and it is a unique monument which harmoniously comprises architectural elements of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. Due to its distinctive architecture, as well as to the historical past (having witnessed various military confrontations), the Mir Castle is listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Program.

The architectural design conveyed to the castle is the result of the different stages of construction to which the citadel was subjected. The edifice began being built in the final years of the 15th century and followed the Gothic structural design. But in the second half of the 16th century the castle came under the hands of Mikołaj Radziwiłł, who added the finishing touches to the castle.

http://www.belarus.by

 

The initial architectural style was not extended to include the final work, Radziwiłł turning to the Renaissance style instead. This project consisted of building a 3-storey palace in the north-eastern part of the castle, right near the walls. The façade of the citadel was adorned by means of balconies, porches, and porticoes done in marble, granite and sandstone.

But the citadel was later on left to chance for almost a century, time in which it underwent a decaying process. Substantial damage was further inflicted during the Napoleonic era, but there came a time when restoration was possible – in the latter part of the 19th century.

http://www.ermaktravel.com

 

But the newly refurbished castle endured damaging experiences during World War II when the Nazis occupied the region and used the castle for accommodation purposes. In such a tumultuous period, when the nation was driven by war, you can only imagine that the residents of the castle did not care much about preserving the castle. Consequently, the interior was badly affected.

In terms of structure, it is worth mentioning that the edifice was surrounded by walls which comprised defense towers in each corner and a trench filled with water as a means to protect the castle. In order to beautify the site, an Italian garden was organized to the north and an artificial lake, opposed it to the south.

http://www.data.minsk.by

 

At present, tourists can gaze on one of the most beautiful castles found on the European continent. Due to the impressive restoration work conducted, the castle was reopened for visitations in the last month of 2010. But even so, the works has not ceased. There are several projects underway which aim at restoring the Italian garden, as well as the English park. It is estimated that the finishing touches will take place as late as 2013. It is admirable that the officials have realized the importance of the edifice and have initiated this elaborate plan to refurbish the castle because by doing so, they preserve alive a portion of the past.

Tourists should know that it is not difficult to reach this site. Mir Castle is located within 90 km of Minsk which basically means that you can find accommodation in the capital city of Belarus and you can take a one-day trip to Mir in order to visit the citadel.

May 14

Minsk (Orasul Minsk)

Whenever we take into consideration the idea of visiting another country, we instantly think about the capital city of that particular state. Whether or not the city is actually representative for the cultural and historical beauty of a particular region is debatable, but the truth is that it carries a lot of importance for that particular civilization, and consequently, it can bear certain meanings for visitors as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org

 

In this article we are going to take a look at the capital city of Belarus, Minsk, and we will analyze its significance as a tourist attraction.

First and foremost, it is worth nothing that tourists interested in the communist era, will definitely have their handful in Minsk as the capital is filled with relics, reminiscent of that particular timeframe. This is the place where we can find the widest collection of items which reflect the Soviet regime.

But the city also abounds in churches, museums, and even an ancient little town. Among the most relevant tourist attractions found in Minsk, the following are worth mentioning: the Holy Spirit Cathedral, the Cheluskintsev Park, the Botanic Garden, the Great Museum of the Patriotic Warrior, St. Simon and Helen Church.

http://travel-to-belarus.net

 

The Cheluskintsev Park, which receives between 500,000 and 1 million visitors on an annual basis, has received the name of the Best Amusement Park during the Crystal Wheel Contest in 2010, held in Sochi, Russia. Only countries which are part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) participate in this contest and the purpose of it is to publicize the amusement parks and emphasize the events which attract the most participants.

The contest is widely appreciated due to the fact that the jury is thoroughly analyzing the activities developed in the parks, taking into account the professional preparation of the personnel, the activities themselves and the safety of the tourists which engage in these activities.

http://www.postcrossing.com

The Holy Spirit Cathedral was initially a Roman Catholic Church and a convent for the Bernadine monks. The construction work began in 1642, but the edifice suffered important damages in 1741 when it fell prey to fire. The cathedral was restored and completed in the 18th century.

The architectural design used for the cathedral is Baroque and the structure is reminiscent of the traditional basilica as the middle nave is longer and taller than the side naves. The architecture and the decorations, together with the relevant religious depictions, have made the cathedral a highly appreciated monument of the Old Minsk.

http://minsk.gov.by

 

The Virgin Mary Cathedral is the largest and most beautiful cathedral not only in Minsk, but in the entire country. The cathedral is situated in the old part of the town and it is a part of the ensemble which forms a Jesuit monastery.

St. Simon and Helen Church is an edifice constructed out of red brick, not so long ago – it has been erected in the 20thcentury, more precisely in 1910, by Edward Wojnilowitsch as a means to honor his children who had lost their lives a few years prior to that date.

http://www.comtourist.com

 

These are but a few of the tourist attractions bound to stir your interest in Minsk. The communist regime had left its imprint on the capital, and this is noticeable widely through the impressive number of sculptures which bear the Stalinist architectural style. But the other monuments located in Minsk do not bear less importance just because they are crafted in a different style. The multitude of churches, parks and museums will definitely make your time worthwhile so do take the time to enjoy what the capital of Belarus has to offer.

Apr 24

Brest Fortress (Fortareata Brest)

The Brest Fortress is officially known as Brest-Litovsk Fortress and it is strategically situated near the Polish border, at the site where the rivers Bug and Mukavet meet. In its early days the fortress was one of the most remarkable military citadels in all of Russia but today it has been transformed into a commemorative monument which stands for the Soviet resistance in front of the German invasion – a battle which took place on the 22nd of June, 1941.

Construction

The fortress was built between 1836 and 1842 by three military engineers Opermann, Maletzky and Feldmann, but the plan of the edifice was developed by Delovan, another military engineer, in 1836. History has it that the entire project was in effect a colossal undertaking as it meant moving a great part of the Brest town further to the east (with a couple of kilometers).

http://www.belarus.by

 

The plan was extremely bold and none considered that would ever see the light of day. The focal point of the fortification was the citadel, a construction consisting of two stories and which was designed to hold 12.000 soldiers within its walls.

The Brest Fortress underwent two consolidation works: one occurred between 1878 and 1888, and the second between 1911 and 1914. The reason for which the fortress is seen as a memorial monument is because of the will with which the people have defended their city. They have resisted in front of the German army for many weeks even if they were outnumbered and even if they had fewer weapons.

http://www.dreamstime.com

 

After the German invasion, nothing remained from the Brest Fortress except ruins. In 1960, the Soviet authorities have decided to erect a monument on the ruins of the fortress in order to commemorate the courageousness of the people that have fought against the Germans in that fatidic day. The construction received the title of “Hero Fortress” in 1965 and the same year the construction work for a memorial was initiated – which was completed in 1971.

http://www.wikimedia.org

 

Tourists who visit the fortress will also have the chance to see several monumental sculptures, which have been specially ordered for the adornment of the site. One of the most impressive ones is a massive silhouette called “Thirst” which is representative for “the thirst for life, battle and victory.”

Structure

The Brest Fortress has a stellar shape. The citadel, the epicenter of the fortification, is built out of red bricks and consists of 500 rooms. The original structure of the edifice counted 4 gates and 4 turrets, but nowadays only two gates stand their ground: the Kholm and the Terespol Gates; everything else lies in ruin.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com

 

Three fortifications enclosed the citadel. These were named after three towns: Kobrin, Terespol, and Volyn. The first one, which was shaped as a horseshoe, was the largest one and was situated to the north-east. The Terespol Fortification controlled the western part whereas the Volyn looked over the south eastern area.

The Best Fortress offers a glimpse of Europe’s historical past so if you ever get the occasion to visit this part of the world, do not miss your chance.