The Catholic and Jewish cemeteries in Sopotskin

The geographical position

Sopotskin is situated in the territory of Grodno region. The town is 21km far from the regional center.

The historical reference

The first mentions of the urban village date back to the XVI century. They describe the location as a district of the Troki Voivodeship. Since the late XVIII century, Sopotskin was an administrative part of the Grodno Voivodeship. Since the early XIX century, it was part of the Russian Empire. The urban village came to possession of Poland in 1921 and of Belarus in 1939.

The population

According to the recent data, the population of Sopotskin is about one thousand people.

The attractions

Sopotskin’s attractions can seem rather strange. However, the location has become well-known thanks to its cemeteries.

Burying in the Catholic cemetery refers to the middle of the XIX – early XX centuries. There is a monument of Neo-Gothic architecture – the Chapel of Julia Dzekonskaya. The rectangular building was constructed in 1868 and served as a family tomb. It has a gable roof and the main facade – a triangular shield. It is completed with a quadrangular small belfry. The main entry and the niche are arch-shaped. The window openings of the chapel are designed in the same style. White stripes –framings of the windows – stand out against the grey background.

Not far from the abovementioned chapel, there is another site for family burying – the Chapel of Yuzef Gursky. He was the first owner of an estate in the village situated not far from Sopotskin. The building was constructed in 1893. The both chapels are similar. Like the first one, the chapel of Gursky has a gable roof. The trapezoidal shield of the main facade has small octangular towers at the corners and arch-shaped niches. The arch-shaped main entry is completed with aedicule. The lateral sides of the building have arched windows. The walls of the altar part are decorated with a portico. It has four pilasters and a triangular gable.

The latest buryings of the Catholic cemetery are graves of Polish soldiers that became victims of the First World War.

The Catholic part of the cemetery is interesting for its brama – a building of the first half of the XX century. It presents a four-sided column with a part of the gates with a Catholic cross attached to it. The buryings in the Jewish cemetery are more ancient and date back even to 1278. That leads us to suggest that it is the most ancient cemetery in Belarus. The monuments were reconstructed in 2000. The initiator of the restoration works in the cemetery was Michael Lozman, a dentist. The citizen of the USA together with his students and local volunteers cleaned and restored about one hundred graves. Michael’s interest for Sopotskin was not a coincidence – his father had come from there. Being a carpenter by profession, he immigrated to the USA in the 1930-s.

Visiting the historically valuable cemeteries is included in many tour itineraries around Belarus.