Gostiny Dvor of the 18th century in Minsk

Residents of Minsk and visitors of the capital have fallen in love with the old part of Minsk - Liberty Square long time ago. This place amazingly differs fr om other districts of the capital because nowadays ancient architectural monuments are preserved here, and one of them is Gostiny Dvor.

The building, Gostiny Dvor, is situated in the center of the square, which was called Cathedral Square since the mid - 19thcentury. The construction of this building was conceived in 1569. At that time the city received a permission fr om Polish king to build such Gostiny Dvor wh ere visiting merchants could live and trade. But only in the 18thcentury the main construction of Gostiny Dvor was started. Earlier, the two-storied building was presented in the form of a rectangle in the center of which an open courtyard served as a great addition.

In 1750, the Town Hall was built nearby Gostiny Dvor and later there appeared the boulevard. In the 30-s of the 19thcentury the shopping arcade was attached. Due to all of this Gostiny Dvor and the surrounding area became a real administrative, cultural and trade center of Minsk. There was a shopping arcade, restaurants, shops, visited by all distinguished people of the city, in Gostiny Dvor. For example, fruit and haberdashery shops were constructed in the basement of Gostiny Dvor at that time. There were various stores, tea, cloth and silk shops on the next floor. The upper floor was given over to living rooms.

Nowadays the building of Gostiny Dvor is a great complex of buildings consisting of several old houses. It is happened during all reconstructions of the last two centuries. The style of the buildings of Gostiny Dvor has changed with the reconstruction. So it changed its original medieval image in the late 18thcentury. Then the architect F. Kramer reconstructed the building and the east wing of Gostiny Dvor began to look in the style of classicism.

After that, the architectural fashion has changed and Gostiny Dvor was rebuilt again in 1909: the number of storeys has changed, the building got art Nouveau features. Since then the style of the building of Gostiny Dvor remained virtually unchanged.

  The walls of the Gostiny Dvor saw a lot of events in the 20th century. There was a time when the buildings of Gostiny Dvor was the location of the merchant club, Minsk branch of Azov-don Bank, there was located a hospital and moreover there acted a theatre during the World War I.   

The Executive Committee of the Western front worked here in 1917, and the Executive Committee of the Minsk Council of deputies met here too. At that time, Gostiny Dvor was called "Minsk Smolny".

In 1922, Cathedral Square was renamed Liberty Square and the Soviet authorities housed the buildings of Gostiny Dvor during the revolutionary changes. At the direction of the same authority, the shopping arcade was demolished in the 20s and Holly Spirit Cathedral that stood next to Gostiny Dvor was destroyed as well in 1936.

During the Great Patriotic War, a part of Gostiny Dvor was ruined due to the bombing and the surviving parts of the building were occupied by Nazis, there was the Abwehr and counter-intelligence.

After the War, Gostiny Dvor was again welcomed by such organizations as the NKGB and sports sections. A recent change in the appearance of Gostiny Dvor was made in 1959 - the corner building was demolished at that time.

Only in the last 15 years Gostiny Dvor has been fully repaired and restored. Moreover, the Town Hall and Holly Spirit Cathedral, wh ere is the children's philharmonic society, were rebuilt again. Today Gostiny Dvor in Liberty Square took its unique historical image and became one of the main monuments of architecture of Minsk.