Zero Kilometer in Minsk

Minsk

Architecture, Industrial buildings

It is the place where all the roads start, the heart of the Republic of Belarus. The zero kilometer (or Greenwich Meridian of Belarus) was installed in the centre of Minsk on Oktyabrskaya Square on 2 July 1998. It is one kilometer far from Glavpochtamt the former central place of the country for communication system that used to be the starting point which is characteristic of many countries. But during the reconstruction of Oktyabrskaya Square the zero kilometer was chosen to be moved here. Though originally several options were under consideration by the authorities, so at first they had planned just to install a slab with inscriptions near Glavpochtamt but afterwards it was decided to erect the monument on Oktyabrskaya Square.  Actually the zero kilometer in Minsk  has a deeper history. Initially the starting point was the pillar near the main post office installed there in 1795. It was made after Minsk became part of the Russian Empire. Catherine the Great was the ruler at that time allocated considerable funds and resources for maintenance of Minsk roads in good condition. After the repairs of the roads were completed a regular passenger traffic was established, versts were noted by a pillar at post paths  and a pillar as a zero verst was installed by the postal unit.

Today the monument is made of granite imported from Portugal, that fact is a subject of jokes for Minsk residents: people are surprised that granite for the monument was found particularly in the far away country. The material of the monument and its conical shape symbolize eternity, durability of the time and communication with space they say. Each of the four sides of the pyramid joined together by the edges to the four winds like the Egyptian pyramids, has cartouches-bronze boards in the form of parchment. A road map of Belarus is depicted on one of them, the other has the text in Latin and in Belarusian: «Road is life», «The beginning of roads of Belarus» is written on the third side and the fourth one eternized the lines of the poem of Belarusian poet Yakub Kolas. The distances from Minsk to the capitals of neighbouring countries are marked on the monument`s foundation. These marks are not chaotic and correspond to the four winds. For example, the information about Moscow, Mogilyov and Bobruisk is depicted on the eastern side of the monument, the southwestern side informs about Warsaw. The monument is not very massive and does not hamper to admire the other sights of the city but at the same time it is visible from any point of the square. The idea of the monument belonged to A. Minin.  A.Sardarov was architect, sculptor was A.Finsky, and artist on metal was V.Zavedeyev. Their names are inscribed on the monument.

After the erection of Greenwich Meridian of Belarus similar constructions began to appear in other places of the country but Zero Kilometer in Minsk has its special history as it became the first starting point in Belarus. The youth of the capital often meet by this monument and indeed it is very convenient to meet in the very centre of the city, and tourists are pleased to find the names of their native places written  on the base of the monument. 

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