Belarus travel guide VETLIVA continues the series of articles "Around Belarus in 7 days". We sent a group of our staff to an expedition around Belarus.
We remind you that we have a task to drive around Belarus in 7 days by car. We have already visited Chechersk and Mogilev, and our way started from Gomel. What was the first day of our trip like, you can find out here. On the second day we were expecting even more interesting adventures, and you can read about this in this article. And now we are awake in Polotsk, which means that the third day of our expedition has arrived.
Polotsk is the oldest city in Belarus, and the first mention was back in 862. How nice it was to wake up in this historic place! By the way, we spent the night in the hostel. It is unfortunate that we were completely alone, without neighbors. It would be interesting to know the opinion of foreigners about Polotsk sights.
We drank coffee, ate a couple of sandwiches, stretched out a little. Packed things in the car, moved out of the hostel and went to meet new places and adventures. And so that you read it to the end, I will tell you that, strangely enough, we were caught in a snowstorm on the border with Latvia. Snow was also in the village, where you could spend the rest of your life, and when we were looking for waterfalls. On the calendar it was May, 10 ... It is almost impossible to imagine that in May there may be such a snow. Now one by one.
Polotsk. If you know this name, you absolutely sure heard about St. Sophia Cathedral. It is 9 am, and we went to the first point of our route. The cathedral is located near the Western Dvina River, on a high hill, which makes it very majestic, noticeable and attractive. At the slope of the temple there is a little vortex. We recommend you to stop and try this cool water. It seems as though sugar has been dissolved in it - it is so soft.
In the middle of the XIth century, the St. Sophia Cathedral was built on the territory of Polotsk, and it became the third such temple on the Slavic lands. In addition, it was the first stone shrine in the territory of Belarus and was the most accurate copy of the holy temple from Byzantium.
During the Northern War of the early XVIIIth century in the building of the temple there was a storehouse with the gunpowder, which in 1710 exploded. After that, little remained of the shrine, and it stood in such a ruined state for more than 25 years.
By the way, Polotsk and Vitebsk can be visited as part of the excursion tour. The tour is for 2 days, during which you will have the opportunity to see the main sights of these two cities, as well as the famous temples of Vitebsk and Polotsk. The tour will be useful for those who are interested in history and do not have the opportunity to travel on their own transport.
Because of the early arrival, we could not get into the temple. It opens at 10 o'clock. What is inside the temple, you probably will ask? There is an organ hall, which allows you to arrange music festivals here. Well, it's okay, but near the temple there is another attraction - Borisov stone. As a result, having come to see one tourist attraction, we managed to kill three birds with one stone.
Having parked the car, we moved along the Nizhne-Pokrovskaya street, as there are interesting sights on it. And the very first is the Lutheran Church of 1882.
The Lutheran church is one of the few architectural monuments in Polotsk, which managed to survive after numerous wars and wrongful acts of people.
On the site of the current stone sanctuary there used to be a wooden church that passed through destructive historical events and remained well. In 1988, 850 Lutherans lived in Polotsk, as a result of which it was decided to build a stone church at the place of a wooden one, which by that time was in a deplorable state.
A little farther down the street there is another church - the Epiphany Church. It stands directly on the bank of the river, and next to it there is the Polotsk Museum of Books, which used to be part of a convent.
It was in Polotsk in 1761 that the construction of the stone Epiphany Church at the Holy Epiphany Monastery began. The Holy Epiphany Monastery in Polotsk appeared long before the construction of the church, namely in 1653. Despite the fact that all the Polotsk churches had to change their status to the Uniate, the Epiphany Monastery remained faithful to Orthodoxy.
Another interesting attraction is the Spaso-Euphrosyne monastery. It is located about 5 kilometers from the monastery, you will not reach it on foot, but this place is worth a visit! This is not just a monastery, but a whole complex of temples where the old walls and icons painted on them have been preserved. It's an active monastery: girls do not forget to take kerchiefs and bedspreads at the entrance, there they are being watched. On the territory there are permanent nuns, morning services are held. There is also a small park, where tourists are not allowed to enter. Thanks to the weather, we got very picturesque photos. The evidence is below.
Then we went to look for waterfalls on the border with Latvia. The weather added its surprises: rain, snow, sun, then we were suddenly blocked by cows ... It was difficult to ride, but we coped with this task.
This photo evaporates the snow, which fell on the sun-warmed earth and despite the fact that the air was very cold! Truly it’s an unusual natural phenomenon.
On the way to the waterfalls, we discovered another interesting attraction - a church in the village of Idolto. Unfortunately, the temple was closed, but after a few minutes the priest of this church came out to us and offered to make a tour for us. We were surprised by this proposal, but, of course, agreed. And now a bit of history and photos of this church.
The Church of Our Lady of Scapular is the only temple in Belarus created in the neo-Romanesque style.
The construction of the church took place from 1937 to 1939. In such difficult times a temple of rubble and brick was erected on the territory of the village - as a hope for the parishioners for the best, as a symbol of faith. The church continues to serve its parishioners today. Masses are held here, people gather, like several decades ago.
At the end of the conversation, the priest said that this is not the oldest and most interesting church: nearby, in the village of Druya there is one more. He said that they will treat us to coffee and tell us about the temple if we turn to the house opposite for help. And it happened. We talked with nuns, and they called for help 70-year-old bell ringer, who told us the history of the church.
According to him, everything began from the hall and ended in "the seventh heaven". It turned out that this is the place where the seventh bell is located, which is considered its highest point. The bell-ringer told us fascinating stories about the war, and about the projectile that burned down the walls of the church: we will describe all of this in more detail in a separate article.
From here a wonderful view opens up to Latvia, from which Belarus separates the river.
On the outskirts of Druja village there is an old Jewish cemetery, it strikes with its beauty. Neat plates in the hills under the trees - this is rarely seen. Most recently it was restored to donations.
The Jewish cemetery arose in Druya around 1542. Here locals and victims of the Jewish ghetto are buried. This is the only Jewish cemetery in the country with colored murals on monuments, and also one of the oldest in Belarus.
The last point of our current route will be waterfalls on the river Vyata. Again it snowed, the navigator did not lead us, the roads were completely absent. We spun and searched for the right road for about 40 minutes and finally found the right direction. We got to the very village, which was spoken about at the very beginning. It is called Prudniki. See yourself what photos we got here.
Accurate multicolored houses without fences stand right next to the road ... Horses graze in the meadows .... A real pastoral landscape.
Waterfalls are one kilometer from the border with Latvia. They turned out to be small, but it did not disappoint us, because we were glad that we managed to complete this quest and, despite all the difficulties, reached our destination.
The day is coming to an end, and we are full of impressions. Ahead of us there is a road to Braslav Lakes, where we will spend the night, but about this we will tell you in the next article.
Meantime, you can familiarize yourself with the route on our interactive map.