History of the creation and restoration of the Trinity Quarter
One day in 1962, Nikita Khrushchev came to Minsk and asked to show him a historical centre of the city. It turned out that there was nothing to show to the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR. It was then that they decided to restore the Trinity Quarter – a small part of the old city that survived during the World War II in a completely destroyed city of Minsk.
Why exactly the Trinity Quarter was chosen? Because there had already been first settlements in the 12th century. Because it is a historical centre, and the houses in it are all historical monuments of the 19th century. And finally, because it is beautiful and extremely atmospheric. But, let’s start from the very beginning.
The time period is the Middle Ages. The place is on the left bank of the Svisloch River. An elevation called the Trinity Hill. In the XIV century, the Ascension Monastery grew here, next to the ancient settlements. Around it, the Trinity Quarter with a growing number of new houses of peasants, traders, artisans and small officials was being formed. Why the suburb? Because it was behind the city wall. It is now the historical centre of the big city of Minsk, but at that time, the centre of small Mensk was in the vicinity, on the right bank of the river.
The suburb lived its medieval life, it grew and developed quite actively as it was located at the crossroads from Mogilev, Vilna, Polotsk and Smolensk. Such a lively place could not help but create a trading space, and by the end of the 16th century the Trinity market, the largest market in the city, had appeared.
In 1809, a large fire completely destroyed the Trinity Quarter, which was all wooden then. New, stone buildings were started to be built on the ashes. Alexander I himself planned the construction - 10 streets were formed in two dozen town blocks. These are the streets we are walking along today. It is true that there are far fewer streets and houses left than there were 200 years ago in the new town blocks...
What is the Trinity Quarter of the 21st century model?
It is a city block in the centre of Minsk on the beautiful embankment of the river Svisloch. It has two- and three-storey houses painted in delicate multi-coloured tones. There are roof tiles, a paved way under your feet, greenery, benches, lanterns, coziness and authenticity at every turn. This is all if you look at the suburb from the outside. And inside of the suburb there are museums, galleries, shops, cafes and restaurants, even a civil registry office. And there you can find a pharmacy, a special one, which is also ancient and almost a museum. And there is the House of Nature in the suburb, which in the old days served as a synagogue. Now there are exhibitions of all creatures great and small - from butterflies to exotic animals. There is also the museum of Maxim Bogdanovich, the Belarusian poet, who was born in the house, where his museum is now, exactly one hundred years before the collapse of the USSR. But what is most surprising is that these toy-looking houses are inhabited by real people, ordinary Minskers who did not want to go to live in the outskirts. And one can easily understand them.
What can you do in the Trinity Quarter?
You can take a walk, look around and get surprised, enjoy the atmosphere of old Europe, relax on a bench in cozy silence, buy a book from the booksellers or something antique in an antique shop, drink coffee in a cafe and much more. And yes, it is important not to forget to buy a magnet as a souvenir or an entire painting as a keepsake - there is an incredible amount of handmade and extraordinary items in the gallery "Slavutiya Maystra"! You can find there ceramics, paintings, textiles. And almost everything is about Belarus.
What you cannot do here is get lost, bored, tired or stay indifferent. Because it is good to be here on such an island of the 19th century, amidst the hustle and bustle of the 21st century, in any weather of any season.
Sometimes they say that Minsk is a European city. Well, the Trinity Quarter probably has the most European features in the city. At least in the architectural sense: every building here has a biography. And each is a monument with a security plaque on its pastel side.