The agro-town with melodious and quite unusual name of Kamai is located in Vitebsk region, within 18 km to the south-west of Postav, 12 km away fr om the nearest railway station called Godutishki, at the crossing of several highways Postavi-Lyntupy and Naroch-Godutishki. The town owes its name to the Finnish word “kamai”, that means in translation “wind-fallen trees”.
The existence of a small town of Kamai had been known since the beginning of the XVI century, when it belonged to Prince Gleb Pronski. The representatives of this family had possessed the lands till 1572, when Aleksander Pronski sold his estates to Foma Rudomin-Dusyatski. The appearance of the settlement’s key attraction – stone temple, sanctified in honour of John the Baptist, which preserved almost in its original form to this day, was connected with the name of the next village’s owner – Yan Rudomin-Dusyatski.
The family of Sulistrovski was the next owner of the lands, where Kamai was located. After the partition of Poland in 1795 they became a part of the Russian Empire, firstly as a centre of the volost of Vilenski uyezd, after a while – Sventyanski.
The township grew and developed. At the end of the XIXth century there were 28 houses, and in 1909 there were already 35 houses. It is remarkable that in 1915 the famous Belarusian poet Kazimir Svoyak served as a Polish priest there.
Then, the small town’s fate developed as hundreds of other small townships did on the territory of Belarus. On completion of the First World War it belonged to Poland, in 1939 it became BSSR territory. The Germans didn’t pass Kamai by. All local Jewish population was moved into ghetto, located in Kobylnik, wh ere they were annihilated during the occupation period.
After the war a mechanical mill started to function on the township’s territory. Kamai was revived and grew little by little and by 1971 there were 164 houses in the town, the infrastructure was well-developed: a secondary school and a kindergarden, a Culture Palace and a library, a hospital, a pharmacy and other infrastructure facilities as well.
The attractions of Kamai
Firstly the town’s name is associated with an ancient stone temple, erected in 1603-1606. It is more that four hundred years, and inspite of the historical events full of massive destructions and disasters it has preserved and now pleases the eye of each person, coming to Kamai. The Temple of John the Baptist is remarkable for being a great example of a defensive temple. Such architectural masterpieces, which have preserved on the territory of Belarus, can be counted on fingers. Undoubtedly, the temple amazes with its oldest in Belarus organ and coloured arches, painted in grisaille technique.
There is another unique attraction not far from the temple. It is a stone cross, which dates on XV-XVI century. The cross is of large size: it reaches 2,5 m in height, in width -70 centimetres, and 60- in depth. A triangular niche is made in the cross, under which half-erased signs are located. The cross is made of pink rapakivi granite. The age of the rock, which originates in Scandinavia, comes to tens of thousand years. It is worth while mentioning the park, named after Bronislav Rutkovski, that is situated in front of the temple of John the Baptist.