Vileika is a small in size and population district center of Minsk region, which has, however, quite an interesting history and a list of noteworthy attractions and monuments.
Original appearance and subsequent transformation of the town
Unfortunately, the certain date of the town foundation is unknown. The first written mention refers only to the XVI century, but it is known that there had already been a small settlement in the northwestern part of the area by that time. And, judging by the remains of the settlement that was discovered, it had been founded much earlier.
The location of Vileika is in the confluence of the rivers Lovnia and Vilia that was chosen strategically correct. It is known that rivers have always been attracting people with the opportunity to join trade routes, so they had a favorable impact on the economy of the settlement.
Initially the plan of the town of the eighteenth century meant just one street, branching near the confluence of the rivers and forming this way somewhat of a square – the town center. However, a new draft of Vileika was developed in the first decades of the nineteenth century, where the town boundaries were considerably expanded and the density of buildings increased. A quarter type of town planning was chosen. It’s interesting to know that almost nothing of the initial idea was left and all the streets were rebuilt (except for a part of the modern street September 17).
The objects of interest
A sort of landmarks of the town, both for its residents and visitors, are two majestic structures that are related approximately to the same period and located in the town centre. It should be mentioned that the proximity of these two buildings occurred due to the hostile competition between the Catholic and Orthodox Church in those days.
The Church of St. Mary of Egypt
It was built in 1865 and completed in accordance with the popular at that time Moscow architectural style of the XVII century. However, there are some atypical features in it. For example, the clock tower was placed over the main entrance to the Church. The Church has a gilded dome of impressive size that is surrounded by smaller domes of the sky-blue color;
The Holy cross Catholic Church.
The building is considered to be an example of neo-Gothic style dating 1906-1913 years of construction. It has a rather high tower with a spire, numerous pediments at the ends with paired window openings and lancet niches as key architectural elements. And, of course, the interior of the Church painted imitating the Arabesque mosaic is impressive. Unfortunately, since the First World War, the territory of Vileika has experienced several enemy invasions, which led to the fact that the Church had been used as a warehouse for quite a long time and was partially destroyed in the end. The restoration occurred in 1990, with the result that the temple was given its original appearance.
Besides, a natural attraction, Vileika reservoir deserves special attention. In size it ranks the second one after lake Naroch and it is the biggest artificial reservoir in Belarus. Its construction began in 1973 and, according to the project, the average water depth is about 3.7 m. Its popularity is caused not only by the fact that it was designed in order to provide water to the districts of Minsk, but also by its sports and entertainment function. Here the most significant in the Republic water competitions take place. And the pristine nature of the reservoir attracts a large number of amateurs of fresh air and fun.