Belchitsa

A long street of houses and five-storey khrushchyovka (apartment building which was developed in the USSR during the early 1960s) is a typical construction of a small town. Few know that significant events in the Belarusian history took place here.

It is quite difficult to guess that in former times majestic buildings of one of the ancient monasteries throughout Belarus stood there. Only a memorial stone serves a reminder of the past events. There was a time when the left bank of the Dvina river, where Belchitsa village is located now, was a residence of Polotsk dukes.

The fortified residence was founded during the reign of Boris Vseslavich in Polotsk. In 1139, a big church of Sts Boris and Gleb monastery was built. The real name of the church is unknown. It was called “big” since the size of its foundation was bigger than other church foundations.

Several years later, according to the project of architect Ioannes, Pyatnitskaya and Sts Boris and Gleb Churches were built on the territory of the monastery.

The monastery was named in honor of the saint martyrs Boris and Gleb, protectors of its founder – Grand Duke Boris Vseslavich.

Ancient walls of the Sts Boris and Gleb Monastery saw many wars. Belchitsa was first mentioned in chronicles in 1159. At that time, Duke Rostislav Glebovich hid in the monastery from rebellious residents of Polotsk. 

Belchitsa and Sts Boris and Gleb monastery suffered from the events of the Livonian War. In 1563, Ivan the Terrible captured Polotsk and declared himself Grand Duke, he settled in the monastery. After tragic events of 1563, when most residents of ancient Polotsk were killed by the Moscow troops and other residents were captured, neither town nor residence in Belchitsa could not regain their former glory. 

At the beginning of the XVII century, Archeparch (Archbishop) Jehoshaphat Kuntsevych ordered to carry the Orthodox monastery by storm, and up to 1839, the monastery belonged to Uniate.

Unfortunately, the monastery buildings were utterly destroyed. Two of four churches were destroyed in the XVIII century. Pyatnitskaya and Sts Boris and Gleb churches stood until the beginning of the XX century. However, this place was not considered culturally valuable, local people dismantled these churches brick by brick. The ruins of the churches can be seen in photographs, but its foundations are securely hidden deep in the ground.

The events of The Great Patriotic War left its black mark in the history of Belchitsa. The Nazi invaders made working age population their slaves. They planned to lock in a barn and burn children and old people left in the village. Guerrillas discovered their plans and broke into the village in order to free 145 people.  

Nowadays Belchitsa is a quiet place in the Polotsk district. Significant events rarely occur there. However, such an event took place in February 2016.

During pipeline installation, workers discovered the remains of an ancient church foundation. Archeologists began their works. Perhaps, they will answer the question what other secrets the lands of ancient Belchitsa keep.   

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