Minsk is the capital and largest city of Belarus with a population of almost two million people, which accounts for approximately one-fifth of the total population of the republic. It ranks as the tenth most populous metropolis in Europe, covering an area of 348.84 square kilometers. So, what is worth visiting in Minsk to touch the historical heritage of the city?
Zamchische is a historic quarter located near the Nemiga metro station, where the Minsk Castle once stood on Castle Hill. This ancient fortress from the 11th century was constructed at the confluence of the Svisloch and Nemiga rivers. Now it is difficult to assess the greatness of the huge fortification, as the castle was completely demolished during numerous wars and fires. There is no sign of the rivers either, as the Nemiga River grew shallow significantly by the 19th century and was enclosed in a collector. Nevertheless, a cultural layer has been preserved in this territory, which makes it an archaeological site.
To visit Zamchische, you can use public transport stops such as Zamchische, Palace of Sports, or Nemiga Metro Station. There are hotels nearby, including DoubleTree by Hilton, Na Zamkovoy, and Yubileyny.
Troitskoye Predmestye (Trinity Suburb)
The picturesque old neighborhood appeared in the 12th and 13th centuries. Linked by a bridge (later two bridges) to the heart of the settlement — the castle — the area was gradually built up with monastic complexes. Since it was located at the intersection of trade routes, a fair appeared here.
Later, the focus of trade and administration shifted to the Upper Market, and the ancient buildings of the "Old Place" disappeared during the fire in 1809. However, some architectural landmarks from the 19th century have been preserved here, one of which now houses Maxim Bogdanovich's Literary Museum, who is a prominent figure in Belarusian literature.
To visit the suburb, you can reach one of the stops: Zamchische, Palace of Sports, or Nemiga Metro Station. The closest hotels to this area are DoubleTree by Hilton, Na Zamkovoy, and Yubileyny.
The district on the opposite bank of the Svisloch River was also developed during the construction of the castle. In the 19th century, it was a poor and densely populated area with multi-apartment residential buildings for renting rooms, and during the Great Patriotic War it became one of the largest Jewish ghettos in Europe.
The oldest local church, The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, was established here in 1612. First built as a wooden church, it's now a brick temple belonging to Orthodox believers and is in use to this day.
In 1612, another landmark of Minsk appeared here — the oldest church that has survived to this day. This is The Cathedral of The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.
Location: To reach this historical monument, you can take the metro. Exit at the Nemiga or Frunzenskaya stations. The nearby hotels include DoubleTree by Hilton and Na Zamkovoy.
The Upper Town
Since the 16th century, the area of the modern Independence Square has become the center of Minsk, hosting the town hall, religious complexes, a guest yard, and shopping arcades. This part of the city was initially known as the Upper (High) Market. By the beginning of the 18th century, it was entirely developed and formed an architectural ensemble of this part of the city.
There is a lot to see in the Upper Town since there are many attractions in this place. For example, there are three museums on the territory of the Bernardine monastery: of horse-drawn railway, carriages, and archaeological.
There is also the Stone Church of St. Joseph, built in the 17th century, which is no longer operational. Another historical church, the Cathedral of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, serves as the cathedral of the Belarusian Orthodox Church. Nearby stands the enigmatic House of Masons, built at the end of the 18th century in the shape of a Maltese cross.
In the Upper Town there is also Minsk City Hall built in 1660. It was the only building with a clock in the city. However, the original building can no longer be seen, as it was destroyed in the mid-19th century. The square now features a modern building, reconstructed based on archival documents.
The Cathedral of the Holy Name of Saint Virgin Mary was built in the early 18th century as a church at the Jesuit monastery. It functions today as a Catholic cathedral.
Location: The metro stations Nemiga and Kupalovskaya are the closest to this area. The nearest hotels are Europe and Robinson-City.
The central artery of the capital, Independence Avenue, is one of the longest streets in Europe and was built at the beginning of the 19th century. However, after the Second World War, only ten buildings survived. The avenue is home to several architectural landmarks and objects of historical and cultural value:
- Jubilee House,
- Red Church,
- Post office buildings,
- The main department store (GUM),
- The Belarusian State Philharmonic, and more.
A huge collection of written heritage is stored in the National Library, a large modern socio-cultural complex.
To take a walk along Independence Avenue, you can reach metro stations such as Ploshchad Lenina, Kupalovskaya/Oktabrskaya, Ploshchad Pobedy, Yakuba Kolasa, and Vostok. There are also bus stops for Bus No. 100 starting from Independence Square and further along the route.
The nearest hotels are Hotel Minsk, Europe, Crowne Plaza Minsk, and President Hotel.
Local cultural life is vibrant. Watch a performance at the historic Janka Kupala National Academic Theatre, the oldest in Belarus, and then relax by the fountain in Aleksandrovsky Square (metro station Kupalovskaya). Discover what's on at the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus on Parijskoi Komuny Square, 1. Admire the collection at the National Art Museum, located on Lenin Street, 20.
Take a stroll in the shade of centuries-old trees in Loshitsky Park, which was once a fortification until the 13th century and later a princely estate. Visit museums, and afterwards, the graves of the Belarusian poets Yakub Kolas and Yanka Kupala, which can be found in the ancient Military Cemetery with the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky built at the end of the 19th century.
On the territory of another necropolis, Calvary Cemetery, architectural specimens from the mid-19th century in the neo-Gothic, Empire, and Art Nouveau styles have been preserved. Architectural treasures of that era also include the Church of the Holy Trinity (St. Roch) on Zolotaya Gorka and The Church of St. Mary Magdalene.
Minsk is an ancient and beautiful city with a thousand-year history where you will always find something interesting.