5 Belarusian cities & coolest spots to
Discover Your Belarus A GUIDE TO CASTLES & ESTATES
The materials used in this issue were provided by the Republican Union of Tourism Industry (Belarusian Touristic Union) and the National Tourism Agency of the Republic of Belarus as well as by the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in New Delhi.
Contributors: Department of Tourism of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus Mrs. Liya Stoma, Head of Marketing Division National Tourism Agency of the Republic of Belarus Ms. Nadzeya Herasimovich, Leading Specialist Ms. Yauheniya Krechko, Leading Specialist Belarusian Touristic Union Mr. Dzmitry Skvarcheuski, Vice-Chairman content Mr. Dzmitry Lebedzeu, Assistant
PICTURESQUE CITIES OF BELARUS Minsk, Brest, Gomel, Grodno, Mogilev, Vitebsk
Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in New Delhi Mr. Andrei Misyura, Trade-Investment Secretary - Project-Counselor of the Belarusian Tourist Information Center in India Tsi Yatra Pvt. limited Mr. Dinkar Dasaur, Head, GSA Businesses Designed & Printed by DIVI Studios 101, Pratap Nagar, Khudi Ram Bose Marg, Mayur Vihar Phase 1, Delhi - 110091 Tel: 91-9718890595; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.divistudios.com Credits to the external sources are mentioned below: Sightseeing © Credits to belarusfeed/Iryna Dorosh; Alesya Ivankova; Anton Ananych and Itinari.com/Ivan Makarov Read more on belarusfeed.com People and Language © Credits to belarusfeed and Itinari.com/Ivan Makarov Read more on belarusfeed.com Planner © Credits to belarusfeed/Rodion Kovenkin; Viacheslav Mazai; Sergey Plytkevich; and Itinari/Ivan Makarov Read more on belarusfeed.com Must Visit © Credits to belarusfeed/Anait Arzumanyan; Galya Lukashevich and Itinari/Ivan Makarov Read more on belarusfeed.com Explore © Credits to Belarusfeed and Itinari.com/Ivan Makarov Read more on belarusfeed.com
What Belarus stands for…
34. Must Visit l l
A guide to castles & estates Cool places to hang out
Perserving Belarus’ endangered language
Tracing back the history Belarus for all seasons
Hidden gems in Belarus
Belarus and spirituality Indian community in Belarus
BELARUS: THE BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR INDIANS Dear readers! This is my both honour and pleasure to address you on this Special occasion: the 2019 edition of the “Destination: Belarus” magazine published by our partners from the company “YATRA” together with the National Tourism Agency of the Republic of Belarus and the Belarusian Touristic Union. I believe that the issue of this magazine will help the Indian audience to know more about Belarus. I hope that the readers of this magazine will be ready to comprehensively explore the opportunities and experiences that our country can offer – with the cooperative help of the Belarusian Tourism Informational Center in India launched by the team of “YATRA” by the authorization of the National Tourism Agency of the Republic of Belarus. This year is a very special for our Embassy and for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: in 2019 we celebrate a Century’s Anniversary of the Diplomatic Service of Belarus: the very first mentioning of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belorussia (SFA SSRB) in press happened on January 22nd, 1919. It is important to keep in mind that only 12 people serving the Belarusian Republic – then-Belarus, started the journey that we are still in – even before the formation of the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Belarus in 1990 as of the national diplomacy institution of the young independent state. We achieved a lot as a nation during the Soviet Era – our diplomatic school was bringing the best cadres both on the national track and to the Soviet capital. Belarus became one of the three Soviet nations-founders of the United Nations in 1945. And even before that in 1944 among the Founding Fathers of the UN you can find a Belarusian national. A legendary star of the Soviet diplomacy, Mr. Andrei Gromyko, born in a small Belarusian town of Barysaw, led the Soviet delegation at the Dumbarton Oaks conference in 1944 which paved the way to the foundation of the United Nations, to be present in 1945 at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. His brilliant career is wellknown by the intellectuals here in India: Mr. Gromyko thereafter became maybe the most pro-Indian Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union but even at the very top he was serving the Soviet country with the warmest feelings to his Belarusian nation – and till the
end of his days and spoke Russian with his recognizable mild Belarusian accent. It was always the adventure driven by the patriotism and fostered by the skill to combine the best accessible sources to serve the Fatherland as a Belarusian diplomat. We keep that spirit alive and do our best to make it even a stronger source of inspiration for the next generations of the Belarusian diplomats. This year is also very special for Belarus for another reason. In 2019 we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Belarus liberation from the Nazi Invaders in the Great Patriotic and 2nd World War. The war against the Soviet Union was unleashed as a “blitzkrieg campaign” by the fascist Germany on June 22nd 1941 but lasted till the German capitulation in 1945. This atrocious disaster became a severe trial for all 15 republics of the former Soviet Union and for Belarusian people in particular. Due to its strategic location on the route to Moscow – the capital of the Soviet Union, Belarus was the first Soviet Republic to confront the enemy. Belarusian people never stopped fighting, continuously showing examples of heroism, staunchness and self-sacrifice. Almost every Belarusian family lost its members in that devastating and bloody war. Every third Belarusian did not survive the war, i.e. around 3 million people were lost and the national economy was thrown to 30 years back in terms of industrial capacity. We value the lives lost and the enormous efforts of the common people of Belarus and till that moment we celebrate the Independence Day of Belarus on July 3rd – the date when 75 years back the territory of Belarus was liberated from the devastating Nazi invasion. Not only people suffered a lot. The whole industrial, agricultural and technological potential of our territory was completely destroyed during these dark and gloomy years of war. But Belarus has started over and succeeded in restoring the basis of our future achievements. That is why we are particularly proud of our scientific and industrial capacity that we could restore and develop after that severe period. Belarus became the manufacturing hub and in a way the Silicon Valley of the Soviet Union: the end-segment of the Soviet production chain with the
most sophisticated industries was located in Belarus. Due to that in the present era as an independent state, Belarus enjoys the status of the export-oriented economy and knowledgebased society. We have our indigenous technologies in the industrial appliances manufacturing, machinery, agriculture and horticulture, food technologies, petro-processing industry metallurgy, optics, medical and pharmaceutical and many other industries. On the basis of what we had as the Soviet-era Belarusian engineering school, we have built an extremely successful ITindustry: global IT-giants have their R&D-centers in Belarus (such as Google, Yandex, Ciklum, IHS Markit, IAC Applications, Kyriba, Mapbox, NEC, Playtika, Rakuten, SK hynix and Playtech), leading product companies are originated from Belarus (Gurtam, exp(capital), SoftClub, Wargaming and Viber) and unicorn-startups emerging from our country are emerging globally (such as AIMatter, Flo, FriendlyData, MSQRD and PandaDoc). That allowed us to declare in 2017 Presidential Decree No. 8 “On the Development of Digital Economy” our way to building a comprehensive digital economy – we became the first-ever country in the world that made crypto currency and blockchain technology legal and officially supported. Let me underline that this example is not about a particular industry but about the human potential that we have. It shows that we are ready to perceive all the best from all over the world and make it grounded in Belarus basing in our knowledge and talents. India plays a very important role in this process: for instance, last year in Belarus the complete cycle manufacture R&D-center of the most advanced medications named after Dr.Y.Kh.Hamied was
established by the Indian giant pharma company “CIPLA”. We can find more examples like this in many other industries. This is possible only due to the strong traditional cultural basis of the Belarusian nation: we value hard work, preciseness, dedication, strong will and moral ground. We are not a moneydriven but professionally oriented and a law-abiding and a very hospitable traditional nation. Moreover, we share a very warm attitude toward Indians and the Indian culture: the popularity of mehendi, yoga and meditation courses as well as Indian dances, Bollywood movies and vegetarian cuisine is booming now in Belarus. Let me reassure you: if you tell a common Belarusian person that you are from India he or she will immediately greet you with a happy smile. We supported the Indian initiative of the International Yoga Day in the UN and since its inception in 2015 the numbers of Yoga centers is growing in Belarus inspiring our people to explore the Indian culture even deeper. We enjoy excellent relations based on the mutual understanding and support with the Republic of India. Two years back during the visit of My Hon’ble President H.E. Mr.Alexander Lukashenko to India, it was announced that we are moving up to the strategic partnership level, the initiative of having the special zone in Eurasian Economic Union for the Indian business (Indian investment cluster/park in Belarus) was announced as an invitation to the Indian business and thereafter India was included to the list of countries for the visa-free route: now an Indian citizen travelling from the EU-countries can stay in Belarus without visa for up to 30 days now. I hope that many of you have tried this route and enjoyed Belarus a lot during the 2nd European Games in Minsk in June this year. As far as you see, Belarus is a very well-developed and open country having a wonderful level of political relations with India and very supportive Indian-friendly environment people’s attitude wise. But the awareness level about Belarus here in India is not as high as it should be – and the initiative of the Belarusian Tourism Informational Center in India launched by the “YATRA” team should bridge this gap. This magazine not only tells more about Belarus but also gives the floor to the Indians who are already aware what Belarus is: we want you to get introduced to Belarus by seeing my country through the Indians’ eyes. I hope you will enjoy reading this magazine – as well as exploring Belarus further. Looking forward to seeing you all in Belarus! l
Andrei I. Rzheussky Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of India, to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
DISCOVER YOUR BELARUS Get ready to go deeper…
Welcome to our guide to the country of blue lakes and primeval forests – Belarus. Here you will find interesting and useful information on how to spend memorable holidays in the heart of Europe. Friendly residents, forest reserves and quiet towns. Let us reveal to you the unique world of Belarus… BELARUS IS A GREAT PLACE FOR: l getting to know the contrast of medieval and soviet architecture; l having a carefree rest on the pristine nature or at the farmstead; l tasting delicious national dishes; l relaxation and healthcare in a sanatorium somewhere away from the hustle and bustle; l fascinating walks and kayak rafting; l hunting and fishing; l beautiful landscape photos; l caravaning and biking; l enjoying music and dancing in a good company at the best festivals. HOW TO REACH BELARUS Air travel is the most comfortable and popular way to travel to Belarus. Choose any European air hub or Kiev, Istanbul or Abu Dhabi to get to the National Airport Minsk. Internal connectivity is of the excellent level: due to the compact size and welldeveloped infrastructure of the
country, you can explore Belarus by car, train or even bicycle. SAFETY Belarus belongs to the group of tourist destinations with a low risk for tourists by the expert evaluations of international companies International SOS and Control Risks together with the UK, the USA, Canada, etc. 30 DAYS VISA-FREE THROUGH NATIONAL AIRPORT If you are an Indian citizen and about to travel to the capital of Belarus by plane and you are going to stay in Belarus for no more than 30 days, it is good news for you! You do not need a Belarusian visa if you have an active EU visa (including British). Important note: This rule is valid only for the air route and for the National Airport Minsk as for the international hub (there is no border control for Belarus if you go from Russia – so, better to choose any European capital or Kiev/Tbilisi/ Abu Dhabi as a transit hub).
REASONS TO VISIT BELARUS
1. Architectural heritage
What you can find is a mixture of architecture from the Middle Ages and the recent high-tech infrastructure with sites still standing created during the Stalin Empire, as well as the mixture of East and West. Many claim to smell gunpowder in the back streets of forts and hear piano sounds from the halls of the palaces and park ensembles.
2. Cultural contrasts The contrast and originality – that’s what makes our country’s culture distinctive and unique. Here the historical heritage is carefully preserved at the same time as a new street culture is developing, national ornaments keep pace with world fashion trends.
3. Luxury of quietness A peaceful pace of life, no stress coupled with the modern infrastructure is kind of a standard in every Belarusian city. Surprisingly this place isn’t a utopia; it’s just the way the towns of Belarus
are. In the countryside, you’ll often find your own place for solitude and inspiration where you can communicate with nature personally or listen to yourself closely.
4. Relic forests and pristine lakes Learn about the secret life of the inhabitants of wildwoods and feel the slight breath of birch groves. Blue-eyed Belarus is a paradise for photographers, where instead of the sea there are thousands of lakes. This is for sure a perfect place for your precious holidays.
5. Energy of the earth for health Mild climate, natural beauty products and the medical personnel whom you can trust have long made Belarus a health resort brand. Treatment in underground salt mines, pure mineral water, fresh moist air and healing muds are the trademark of one of the most environmentally friendly European countries.
Your Travel Partner for The Republic of Belarus Yatra Online Private Limited is happy to announce its partnership with the State Institution ‘National Tourism Agency of the Republic of Belarus’ and the ‘Belarusian Touristic Union’ in promoting the Tourist potential of Republic of Belarus, as well as launching the ‘Belarusian Tourist Information Centre’ on Indian ground. With immense pleasure, I would like to take this opportunity to greet the readers of this Magazine - Destination Belarus, and invite the Indian Travellers, Indian Business community and New destination Explorers to unveil & unfold the Beauty of this country. With sincere gratitude to the Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus, India, H.E. Mr. Andrei Rzheussky and his vibrant Team, we thank them for their efforts and contribution in helping Yatra Online Pvt Ltd. create a splendid edition of this magazine which is being launched in conjunction with the celebration of the Independence Day of the Republic of Belarus and 75th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus. I would like to take this platform to share the legacy of Yatra which has been carried forward for the past 13 years and notable achievements in its journey of growth so far.. Yatra.com is a leading online travel company of India providing ‘best in class’ customer experience. Launched in 2006, today we have more than 7 million customers and a comprehensive range of travel-related services. These include domestic and international air ticketing, hotel bookings, homestays, holiday packages, bus ticketing, rail ticketing, city activities and ancillary services. With over a lakh hotels contracted across India, we are India’s largest platform for domestic hotels. Yatra has added another feather to its cap by diversifying its business into Market representation and GSA businesses, considering the vast distribution network of its multi-channel platforms - B2B, B2C and Corporate across the country. OUR STRENGTHS INCLUDE: l A multi-channel platform - B2C, B2B and Corporate channels for customer acquisition, l A robust mobile eco-system for a spectrum of travellers & suppliers, l A strong technology platform with deep execution capabilities in digital marketing . OUR CUSTOMER “TOUCH-POINTS” INCLUDE: l A user friendly website: www.yatra.com, l Mobile applications & platforms, l Retail stores across India, l A 24/7 Multilingual Call center, l A saga of over 42,000 agents across 600 cities in India l A portfolio of 700+ corporate with 4 + million employees. Yatra is among the most awarded brands in India, and among the elite few brands listed on NASDAQ. We have won multiple awards from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, including the National Tourism Award for ‘Outstanding Performance as a Domestic Tour Operator’ in Category I (Rest of India) for the assessment year 2014-15. We have twice been voted
as ET (‘Economic Times’) Brand Equity’s Most Trusted Online Travel Brand (2015 - 16). Travel & Hospitality named us the Most Outstanding Online Company: business to consumer or B2C; and in 2014, Yatra.com won the CNBC Awaaz Travel Award. These are just a few feathers in our cap. The acquisition of companies, intellectual property and talented individuals has been central to Yatra’s growth strategy. In 2010, we acquired TSI and its subsidiaries in order to expand our B2B business. In 2012, we acquired Travelguru B2B and B2C entities from Travelocity, which remain well-established hotel aggregators in India. Recently, we acquired Air Travel Bureau Ltd. (ATB), India’s largest independent corporate travel services provider. Now, with this combined entity, Yatra is the largest corporate travel services platform in India by Gross Bookings. A strong and trusted travel brand of India, Yatra’s strengths include a large and loyal customer base, a multi-channel platform for leisure and business travellers, a robust mobile eco-system, a strong technology platform, and a seasoned senior management team comprising of industry executives with deep roots in the travel industry in India and abroad. I hope this Magazine will act as a bridge in various areas of cooperation - especially Tourism, Trade and Friendship between both countries. Happy reading and do contact us to help you plan your (means Journey in Hindi) to The Republic of Belarus! With Compliments Dinkar Dasaur Head, GSA Businesses & Market Representations Yatra Online Pvt. Ltd
Address: Tsi Yatra Pvt. Ltd, Floor 101-2, Tower B, Unitech Cyber Park, Sector 39, Gurugram, India-122001 Landline: +91 124 6768231 Ext 1431 Email: Belarus-Tourism@yatra.com Web: www.ru.belarus.travel, www.belarustourism.by
PICTURESQUE CITIES OF
Tourists say that every Belarusian city has its own soul and atmosphere that are formed by small but very important details. Belarusian rural lifestyle can be extremely attractive for foreigners. In 2017, Belarus took the 3rd place in the nomination “Gastronomic and Agricultural tourism” of the rating “National Geographic Traveler Awards 2017” among the best tourist destinations among Russian tourists. Belarus hit the top ten countries to travel in 2019 according to the international publisher, Lonely Planet. In the list of Best in Travel - 2019, Belarus ranked 8th. The top 10 countries to travel in 2019 also included Germany, Zimbabwe, Panama, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Indonesia, the African state of Sao Tome and Principe and the state in Central America Belize. Headed rating Sri Lanka. The compilers of the rating noted that Belarus attracts tourists with a 30-day visa-free regime, and explore abundance of cafes and art venues. In Minsk, tourists can enjoy walks in the Old Town, see the amazing town hall
and visit the trendy cocktail bars. Also, the publisher noted that Minsk next year will become the “center of global events and summits,” referring to the II European Games in 2019. And the American web resource of financial and analytical news. The Street put Minsk on the 3rd place in the rating of the cleanest cities in the world. The first two places in the ranking took Singapore and Tokyo. The rating took into account reviews of users of the online booking service Booking.com. The most general recommendation is very relevant for Belarus, explore the country fully, do not be stuck in one location. Capital city of Minsk, Royal Grodno (Hrodna), the cultural capital of Belarus – Vitebsk (Vitsebsk), the heroic city of Brest, majestic Gomel (Homel), quiet Mogilev (Mahilyow) - this is just a small list of cities that we advise you to visit in order to know Belarus better.
Minsk - capital of Belarus
he Belarusian capital is multifaceted, it is both ancient and modern, bustling and quite and there is always a place for great discoveries. It may look young and energetic, but don’t be fooled, the city is older than Moscow, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, and many other European capitals. Destroyed and rebuilt millions of times, it was destined to be reborn, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. At present, Minsk is the 11th most populous city in Europe, by January 2018 its population was 1,982,444 and growing. Just recently it outranked Barcelona, Milan, London and Paris in quality of life index. Besides, it is one of the safest, cleanest and cheapest in the world to live in. The city keeps hitting the headlines of international media. Other flattering titles Minsk got is the top 10 European cities to visit in 2019, as well as one of the world’s best places to experience art and culture.
Minsk Sightseeing: You never know what is waiting for you around the corner of the architectural monument of the XIX century: a cozy family
park, a motley graffiti street, a dozen of extravagant bars. The capital of Belarus is a city with a character and its culture, it is hospitable and multifaceted. Sometimes Minsk citizens gently call Minsk as “the city of the sun”. And only after walking along its streets, you understand why. Wide or narrow, crowded or lonely, grey or full of colors, bearing the names of the former Soviet eminent personalities or contemporaries, every Minsk street has its story, you just have to listen. One moment, you can walk along empty downtown streets bathing in the shadows of Stalinist Empire architecture. Next thing, you find yourself peering into graffiti on Kastryčnickaja street, hanging out with tipsy youngsters on Zybickaja or having a nice chat with lovely Belarusians on Internacyjanaĺnaja. Victory Square is one of the key landmarks of Minsk. It is an iconic memorial to those who died in WW II in Belarus and to be honest it just looks really cool. Any other free spots to must see? The Island of Tears, a place of reflection to those who lost their lives in Afghanistan, in a quiet part of Minsk. It can be reached by the arch-type bridge. Not far from it is Trinity Hill. The oldest district and one of the most Instagrammable places in the city, it is perfect to watch the sunset or take a walk along beautiful 19th century houses overseeing the Svisloch river.
Food and drinks in Minsk: In Minsk there are enough cafes, restaurants and fast food for all tastes. Do not hesitate to try Belarusian cuisine – local food may surprise you!
© photo: tut.by
Shopping in Minsk:
You can taste it in Vasilki – a chain of cafes that look like rustic huts and offer sorcerers with meat or mushrooms, pancakes with various fillings, boiled and fried dumplings, Belarusian vedaray and machanka with pancakes The interior in Kamyanitsa reminds of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania time tavern. One can find Belarusian soups and pork dishes, a wide variety of potato meals, casseroles, pancakes and salads with colorful national titles in the menu. Kuhmistr is known for Belarusian pickles, alcoholic and non-alcoholic Belarusian homemade beverages in addition to traditional dishes. All dishes are accompanied with stories about their creation. Another place with local cuisine is Gray housed in 18th century building in the city center. Each of the ten rooms is decorated in its own style and interprets one of the periods in Belarusian culture. The menu is full of ancient Belarusian recipes and liqueurs with a modern twist. You can find cheaper Belarusian dishes in Lido. Many Belarusian dishes with the local beer and snacks are served in Rakovsky Brovar. When the weather is warm, one can also enjoy Belarusian meals on the inviting terrace of cafe Gryunvald located in a quiet street in the city’s heart.
In Minsk you won’t find souvenirs sold at every corner like in other popular tourists European capitals. You won’t usually see many street sellers in the city center except during big celebrations or festivals. However, a lot of cute and curious things – from mugs to magnets and handicrafts – can be found in stores. For traditional souvenirs, drop in at Soviet-legacy department stores like GUM and TSUM, where one can buy virtually anything. Apart from shopping, GUM is worth a visit for history, as it is the most original shop in the whole city. The building was constructed in 1951, and a French architect called it Soviet architecture’s Rolling Stones because of its quirkiness and eccentricity. Almost nothing has changed inside, where you can easily get acquainted with almost all of the Made-in-Belarus light goods. One more islet of traditional crafts is in a few minutes’ walk from GUM. Kirmash is two floors of crafts, dolls, pottery, linen and other handmade products from different parts of Belarus. In the other floor, you can see modern Belarusian art and also buy art books in the bookstore. For unhacked artisan’s souvenirs, pay a visit to Slavutast gallery in the Trinity suburb. Fridge magnets with the national spirit, glassware, embroidery shirts, straw hats and lapti bast shoes are sold there. One of the most precious gifts you can bring from Belarus is the famous Belarusian linen. Elegant tablecloths, napkins, towels, bed-linen and even clothes are on display in the shops Belaruskiy lyonin Stolitza shopping mall (middle level, right-hand side) and Lyanok near Yakub Kolas Square. After a day for souvenirs shopping, pay a visit to the legendary cafe Lakomka near GUM to have a cup of hot chocolate at a table overlooking the main avenue. Lakomka opened in USSR times and has the finest selection of Belarusian chocolate, sweets and cakes. l
The heroic city of Brest
rest is one of the five most ancient towns in the country. By the way, in 2019, it celebrates its millennium.
It is the undisputed number one in the list of Brest’s main attractions. This 19th century defensive complex is a key symbol of Soviet resistance in World War II. This is exactly the place where on 22 June in 1941 fascist Germany attacked the USSR. While the Germans planned to capture it in 8 hours, the defensive fortress fought for 22 days. “I’m dying, but not giving up. Farewell, Motherland.” This is the inscription made by one of the soldiers on the walls of the fortress during the last days of resistance. More than 2,000 Soviet soldiers died here. It’s a significant place, sacred place for every Belarusian.
The main entrance to the fortress is a huge concrete fivepointed star. Stay here for a few minutes to hear how the World War II was announced in 1941. This is an unforgettable experience even for those who have visited the fortress many times. Down the alley, you can reach the square where the main attractions of the fortress are located. One of them is the Monument of Courage. On its reverse side, you will see the reliefs, which depict the real events of the fortress defense. Nearby there are a 100 meter high obelisk and eternal fire. Another iconic sculpture is called “Thirst”. It’s a VISIT THE poignant reminder of BREST FORTRESS the first days of the war, AT NIGHT ON when the water pipe was ND JUNE AND SEE 22 put out of order, and the
A RE-ENACTMENT OF THE START OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR!
approaches to the river were constantly under fire. What is interesting is that no budgetary funds were allocated for the construction of this memorial complex. It was erected exclusively with the help of the citizens who made voluntarily donations. For locals the fortress is not only a military monument. In the 11th century, there was a large, well-fortified ancient town. At the moment, this town is under a huge glass dome of the archaeological Berestie museum, which is open for visitors.
Brest Train station One may wonder what can be extraordinary in a railway station. Well, this is probably one the most comprehensive places in the city that can tell you its history. Built in the late 19th century, the station was one of the most beautiful in the Russian Empire. However, the building changed a lot in Soviet times. During that period, a pointed spire and a Soviet star appeared over the facade. Today you can see the result of the last reconstruction that took place in 2014. You can continue your tour of the railway sights of Brest by visiting the Museum of steam locomotives. It is located near the main entrance to the Brest Fortress. There are more than 60 trains from different periods collected in an open area of 29,000m2. Almost all trains still operate and some of them are even used in the movies.
Sovetskaya Street in Brest Sovetskaya Street is the most important and the most beautiful
one in Brest. No wonder why locals call it Belarusian Broadway. Walk along it and you will find various cafes, souvenir shops, bars and cinemas. Besides, it is one of the few places in the city where some historical buildings were preserved. Just look at the facades, roofs and evening lights! At the beginning of the street, the St. Nicholas Church is located. Originally, it was made of wood and burned down during fire in 1895. The construction of a new stone temple in the Russian-Byzantine architectural style was finished in 1904. Many tourists note that the church looks especially beautiful with backlighting at night. The monument to the 1000th anniversary of Brest is at the intersection of Sovetskaya and Gogol streets. The 15-meterhigh monument was installed 10 years before the actual date. Important historical images and figures are placed under the veil of the guardian angel. If you are a wildlife lover, you should drop in the Winter Garde, which is at the beginning of the street. It’s greenhouselike area with its own microclimate and diverse species of tropical birds and fish. It includes three expositions – a zone of tropics, subtropics, and finally, a desert.
Around Brest Located 100 kilometers from Brest, there is one of the oldest relict forests in Europe called Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The national park is one of the four objects of UNESCO’s cultural heritage in Belarus. It spreads over 153,000 hectares on the border between Poland and Belarus. This protected area is the homeland of Belarusian Santa Claus also known as Ded Moroz. More than 1,000 plant species, including rare and endangered, grow in Pushcha. There are 59 species of mammals, including the most famous – Belarusian zubrs. Just 20 kilometers from Belovezhskaya Pushcha is a small town Kamenets. The main historical attraction is the 13th century watchtower Belaya Vezha. Althought Belaya Vezha literally means White Tower in Belarusian, it has been brick-red through the ages, never white. Its name presumably derives from the tower’s proximity to the Belavezhskaya Pushcha Forest. Inside the tower there is a museum, where one can learn the history of a town and buy some souvenirs. l
Majestic city of Gomel
omel never fails to surprise a visitor any time of the year, regardless of what activities one is looking for. We suggest four totally different routes that guarantee an unforgettable weekend in the city.
Gomel basic sightseeing Start walking slowly along Lenin Avenue that leads straight to Homiel Palace & Park Ensemble. The Palace of Rumiancavy-Paskievicy has enough attractions to keep you busy the whole day. The ensemble on the high bank of the Sozh was laid down in 1777 by Count Rumyantsev-Zadunaysky. This is the largest museum in the city with artifacts left by Russian military commanders, politicians, and emperors. The latter even left their autographs here — the handwriting of Nicholas I and Alexander II can be spotted in the Book of Honorary
Guests of the Gomel Palace. Don’t forget to explore the surroundings. First, go down to the Swan Pond to watch white and rare black swans from an exquisite ancient bridge. By the way, once this oblong pond was a tributary of the Sozh river and was called Gomeyuk. That is one of the versions of Gomel’s name origin. Don’t miss the bronze monument of Fyodor Paskevich, Russian lieutenant general and one of the palace owners Paskevich is accompanied by his hunting dogs Marko and Lord. There was a rumour that Paskevich loved dogs more than humans. Evidence of this is two granite blocks nearby, under which Paskevich’s favourite hounds are buried. What are the buildings on the horizon you see from the spot? These are the remnants of the first industrial
enterprises of Gomel. The pipe of the former sugar factory was turned into a watchtower with a stunning view of the city. The other building now works as a winter garden with exotic plants and animals. After feeding friendly squirrels there, go down to the waterfront to walk along the river to the pier. This is the place where motor ships depart and ride along picturesque banks in the warmer months Having seen enough of the treasures of monarchs, go down to Sovetskaya Street to the Gomel State Circus. The futuristic building resembles a flying saucer and consumes as much electricity in one show as entire pre-revolutionary Gomel did not consume in a year. Visiting the city in the summer? Watch a street concert at a nearby fountain and don’t forget to take a selfie with a statue of the famous Soviet clown
Karandash, who once performed on the stage of Gomel Circus.
Gomel cultural immersion If you have a keen interest in history and local lore, head to Pushkina Street. The guides of Museum of Criminal Science (Pushkina St 1) will tell you about terrorizing local gangs of the freewheeling 1990s. In case World War II stories are more appealing to you, go to the Museum of Military Glory (Pushkina St 32). You will also find the so-called ‘hunting lodge’ here, built in 1820-1822 in the manner of late Classicism.Today it houses the Museum of History of Gomel. In the archival documents the building is referred to as ‘the house for summer residence of Count Rumyantsev,’ who was absolutely indifferent
ne of the country’s most ancient and beautiful cities has its doors opened for tourists from all over the world. A splendid view of Grodno opens from Kalozha church of Sts. Boris and Gleb, an impressive relic of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, with Neman river cutting the city in half. With patchwork wooden and brick houses creeping up the hill, it’s hard to believe that less than a century ago the
area was known as the “New World”, designated exclusively for the rich. Grodno screams more mind-boggling toponyms, such as the “Swiss Valley“, a scenic park with rolling hills, dating back to the 18th century. Start your city tour walking along the cobbled Sovetskaya Street, which has been preserved in an ideal state since 1938. Sovetskaya is considered to be a visiting card of Grodno. It’s a nice place with European style
to the hunt. It is still a mystery why the house got such a nickname. Turn right to the Biletskogo Street, pass a small square and you will see the Administration of the Central District of Gomel. Until 1917 there was an authentic Russian tavern. The scale of the structure alone implies how Russian merchants and hussars revelled before the revolution. To top your historical route with a true gem, get back to the river and go to the oldest building of the city — Old Believer Church of Illya. The wooden structure was erected without a single nail in 1773-1774 and saw a lot. Emelyan Pugachev, a Kozak who led a great rebellion in 1773-1775, came here to pray. Don’t try to get inside, the Old Believers will never allow an outsider to pass the threshold. Finish your day by dropping in one of many
3-4 storey buildings and a flair of old times. The street is pedestrian with quite a few places to eat out and shop. In summer it becomes the favourite place to chill out for locals who enjoys street musicians and dancers. Some exotic bars here might surprise you. For example, the Coffee House of Hon Peek is the place with a piece of history in its name. It’s known that the house was built in 1811 and housed a hotel for 100 years. In 1928, the local philanthropist
restaurants or resto-bars on buzzing Sovetskaya street. There are many cozy places with delicious cuisine in Gomel, but we picked a couple of truly conceptual spots. You think you’ve tried all possible Belarusian potato dishes? Go to the Budma tavern (Pryvakzalnaja St 3a), they serve at least ten types of draniki, not to mention kolduny, babka, fries and potato wedges that will prove Belarus still has a lot to surprise you. And on Krestyanskaya Street, 14, there is a real time machine — the Staroye Vremya restaurant (the Old Times). Tiny details, be it a sign above the entrance or the toilet soapbox, hints at the bygone Soviet era. The menu is also authentic. Take, for instance, ‘Khrushchevsky’ salad named after the famous Soviet statesman. l
Hon Peek bought that building and settled there. Today’s owners of the Coffee House managed to preserve that special historical entourage. Go and check! The Coffee House of Hon Peek isn’t the only cool place to let your hair sown in Grodno. Cuba bar and Kronon restaurant are also popular with locals. It would be unforgivable to visit Grodno and not go on a tour of the local churches and castles. Grodno is the capital of Belarusian Catholicism. It’s outstanding
example is St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, or Farny Church. You simply wouldn’t be able to pass by without noticing it. 21-meter carved altar, one of the oldest tower clock in Europe, a powerful organ – all these things are worth seeing. The interior of the cathedral is absolutely gorgeous. If you want to take a seat by the beginning of the service, be sure to get there early. The cathedral is usually full. Continue your tour with a visit to the unique 12th century Kolozhskaya church.
Admire the monumentality of the Lutheran church that regularly hosts organ concerts with European musicians. The exploration of Grodno would be incomplete without the Great Choral Synagogue. The dilapidated building was restored by local businessmen, and the synagogue’s prayer hall impresses with its scale and rich stucco molding. You can also take a stroll around the Grodno castle. Enjoy imposing views of the Neman river opening from its walls and see where the first settlements were once located. The city actually has two castles – the Old and the New. You can learn more history at a local museum and buy nice souvenirs there.
Grodno Museums Some are quite unique! Did you know that are only ten iron museums in the world, and one of them is in Grodno?It’s possible to see the evolution of iron works from the first steampunk units to works of art from modern days. The owner of the exposition is the famous local collector Oleg Yersh. There is also a shop in the museum where you can buy antiques. The oldest pharmacy in Belarus, which has recently celebrated its 300th anniversary, is also a museum. Its exposition includes medicines, medical instruments and documents of the 17-20th centuries. But in case you need modern drugs, you can easily buy them, too – the pharmacy still works! Another curious local sight is the Watchtower of the fire department and Fire Museum. The tower was built at the beginning of the 20th century – it’s the only example of such architecture in Belarus. Get there by noon to see a fireman Vasily who rises up to the tower and plays the trumpet exactly at 11.58 a.m. The some of the hallmarks of the museum’s collection
include the diarama of the blazing city and a portrait of a girl with an enigmatic smile, called the local Mona Lisa, on the wall of the fire station. Janush Parulis Museum of Life and History of Grodno. The museum is a wonderland of the heaps of assorted artifacts, from books and paintings to handmade guitars, tobacco stuffing machines from the 19th century, a collection of sleds, and whatnot. Literally, name anything, it’s there.
Grodno surroundings, nature and theatres First of all, you can go to Augustow Canal. It’s a hydraulic engineering installation from the 19th century. There are only two other canals like this in the world, one in the UK and the other in Sweden. It’s a great place for outdoor activities in summer and enjoying the nature at any time. The canal crosses two landscape reserves. If you prefer to stay in town, the Grodno Zoo and Gilibert’s Central Park are perfect options for connecting with nature. When visiting the cultural capital of Belarus, take some time to visit theatres. There are two theatres in Grodno – the drama theatre and the puppet theatre. And it’s really hard to choose! The building of the first one regularly gets into the tops of the most unusual Soviet buildings, so it should be at least seen. But you’d better go inside and visit one of the excellent performances (find the playbill here). Want more impressions? You can see plays by Shakespeare, Goethe’s Faust, and Russian classics in the very original productions at the local puppet theatre. By the way, the building of the theater dates back to the 18th century. For more informal culture visit expositions at DOM46 creative space or Third sector center. l
he third largest city in Belarus had a turbulent history. Mogilev was set ablaze by a Swedish king, rose from the ashes, lived through the cataclysms of the 20th century and came as we know it today, radiant and calm.
Walking around Mogilev Here you can climb the highest town hall in the country and rest your eyes over the mighty Dnieper river, which is responsible for the city’s significant role as a medieval trading hub. Ever dreamed of walking down Broadway? In Mogilev, you can walk along its namesake, the Mogilev Broadway – the longest pedestrian street in Belarus. The city has a lot to offer. What does it have in store for you? Walk down Leninskaya Street – the longest pedestrian street in Belarus, cheekishly nicknamed after the famous Broadway in NYC. Though Mogilev Broadway is shorter than his American sister, that is only 1,5 kilometers. It starts at Skver 40-Letiya Pobedy – a cozy park in the downtown – crosses the Star Square
and flows down towards the town hall. You should definitely stop at Star Square. At the center of the square, you will find the sculpture of an astronomer pointing at the sky, while his giant telescope sits idle. Around are placed twelve chairs as big as the Iron Throne in GOT, marked by individual zodiac signs. Sit in your sign’s chair and the astronomer will predict your good fortune. Pay a visit to Mogilev Town Hall. With its tower reaching 46 meters, it is the highest town hall in Belarus. Through the years, it housed the registry office, the city’s first prison, military radio station, and even a fire lookout tower! Now the building accommodates the Museum of the History of Mogilev. See an exhibition at P. Maslienikaŭ Mahilioŭ Regional Art Museum. The museum is located in the former Peasants’ Land Bank built between 1903-1914. The building that now looks like a gingerbread house combines the elements of the Russian Revival, Art Nouveau, and late Classicism architecture.
Museum of Ethnography walks you through the milestones in the country’s history, providing near-realistic mock-ups of urban and country life in the past. Entrance fee is BYN2 (~€1). The museum is closed on Wednesday and Thursday. Walk into the Co-Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin and St. Stanislaus, located at the site of a former Carmelite monastery. The cathedral has stunning frescos from the 18th century. Stop at the St. Nicholas Monastery Complex, occupying a picturesque location in the Dnieper river valley. This monument of Baroque architecture from the 17th century consists of a number of stone buildings, the St. Nicholas and St. Onuphry Churches among them. The Memorial Complex Buinichi Field is a historical site dedicated to the defense against Nazis in 1941. The complex consists of a chapel with a crypt underneath and alleys branching in different directions. There is an open-air museum of WW II military machinery. The entrance is free of charge. When you get hungry, visit Karchma restaurant nearby. Piačerski forest park is a large forested area on the outskirts of Mogilev and includes the eponymous lake. A great area to explore on your rented bike!
Restaurants and cafés Take the time to explore these distinguished places and you might be pleasantly surprised. l Drop by Bellagio on your promenade along Leninskaya Street. You won’t be disappointed by the best Italian food in the city, at least they say so. The restaurant has a plain, elegant interior. However, some clients complained of long waiting time. l Bar Wine’s is a rare find in Mogilev. Not only does it has good wine, as its name suggests, but also great food. Some of their menu options, such as ostrich tartare, may seem bizarre. Clients were particularly happy about the well-trained staff and their English menu. l Pan Bulban will give you a taste of Belarusian fast food at its best. Here you can get a hearty comfort meal for a good price. It will probably make you drowsy from the first bite, so time your visit accordingly. l Cafe Buffet earned its fame for the marvelous breakfasts, sandwiches, and, certainly, coffee.
Come here for a quick meal or a coffee with ponchik – you won’t be disappointed either way. The café is located in a university building and is particularly popular among students. l Coffee Shop Respublika is a cozy café on Leninskaya street, with a dusty vintage interior and a possibility of a nice chat in English. Treat yourself to the best espresso in town and a yummy dessert.
Nightlife The below suggestions, though not many, will accommodate the tastes of all. Whether you are a beer enthusiast, a karaoke maniac, or an ordinary person looking for some entertainment, you should give these places a try. Irish Pub Ale House will provide you with an authentic Irish Pub experience at the heart of Mogilev. A great choice of craft beer that goes wondrously with their juicy steaks. Other options on the menu are equally mouth-watering. Food and drinks are completed with excellent live entertainment. Waiting for an opportunity to shine on the stage? Drop by Karaoke Club Isterika in the downtown (10-minute walk from Star Square). Na Dubrovke is an insanely popular restaurant and bowling alley that serves as a dance floor on weekends. The venue has mixed reviews. If you like being squished by people, this is a place to go.
Shopping Let’s imagine you come to Mogilev exclusively for shopping. Where should you go? For fresh fruit and vegetables go to Central’nyi rynok, sometimes referred to as Minskiy rynok. This is the biggest farmers’ market in the city. The market is open daily from 8:00 to 17:00. Centralny Department Store, also known as TSUM (abbreviated from Russian), is the biggest and definitely the oldest shopping mall in Mogilev. It first opened the doors in 1947. Back then people had to spend hours in a queue for a good buy. You may think about this as you shop for household goods, perfume, jewelry, or clothing. For a more contemporary experience visit Magnit. The shopping mall is comprised of dozens of small stores, most of which sell clothes. l
Vitebsk Geographical Center of Europe
itebsk is the birthplace of Marc Chagall, Vitba waffles, and the international song contest Slavianski Bazaar. Thousands of tourists flock here each year to soak up the vibes of the cultural capital of Belarus, walk along the Dvina and Vitba promenade, admire the city’s mesmerizing skyline pierced by the towers of mighty Svyato-Uspenskiy Kafedral’nyy Sobor.
Attractions in Vitebsk Climb the tower of the City Hall for a majestic view of the city. You will see a cityscape of the tiled red and green roofs, Svyato-Uspenskiy Kafedral’nyy Sobor, and the bend of the Vitba river gracefully curving behind. Entrance fee (including museum exhibition) is €1 (~BYN2). The Marc Chagall Museum is located in a small house where the painter spent his childhood. Entrance fee is €1
(~BYN2.5). Right across the Western Dvina, in the Marc Chagall Art Center you will see a permanent exhibition of the painter’s graphic artworks. Visit ART PRASTORA on Talstoha 7, a popular local art space featuring alternative art exhibitions, lectures, and workshops. Vitebsk is widely known for its unique and growing street art. Set aside a day and explore the city’s street art scene using this guide. Watch a puppet show at the Lyalka Belarusian Theatre. Don’t miss the chance to watch batleyka – Belarusian folk theatre. Wander in the red quarter – the red brick houses on Chekhova street, Griboedov street, in the area surrounding the railway station, along with the parts of Oktyabrskaya, Revolucionnaya, and Dimitrova streets. Most of the city was destroyed in WW II. The characteristic red brick
houses are what best reconstructs the spirit of pre-war Vitebsk. Memorial Complex Three Bayonets is a WW II memorial honouring the memory of the liberators of the city. The memorial represents three bayonets shooting into the sky like three tall trees. In good weather, the area is bustling with life – teens are laughing, newlyweds here and there making photoshoots, families with kids eating sweets and climbing on helicopters and tanks nearby. Vitebsk has a variety of restaurants serving traditional cuisine, snug cafés and local street food joints that will warm your heart and fill your belly. You’ll find Vitebsky traktir in the historic center, between the City Hall and Voskresenskaya church. The restaurant occupies a 19th century building and overlooks the City Hall. Vintage design creates a unique ambiance. Come here for the Belarusian and European cuisine. Restaurant Vasilki is a chain of Belarusian cuisine restaurants. It serves tasty, affordably priced comfort dishes. The interior replicates the insides of a country tavern. Cafe Nostalgia creates an image of a Soviet-style restaurant with national cuisine. You can reach it by buses 106, 106a, 5 from Ratusha in about 20 minutes. Pushkin Times Cafe Lounge is a restaurant with sophisticated ambiance, large chandeliers and armchairs draped in shiny velvet. Attentive staff and highquality European cuisine. Walk toward the Vitba river and you will see the statue of legendary Pushkin nodding at you approvingly from across the water. Klukva is an all purpose café. It is centrally located, within a fiveminute walk from Svyato-Uspenskiy Kafedral’nyy Sobor. Simple design and reasonable pricing. Particularly praised for its breakfasts, daily 9:00 to 12:30. Drop by Kofeynya, the meeting point of the citizens no matter the season.
Melanj café is a homely bakery close to the downtown. Come here for fresh pastries and pies. Big breakfast menu, works daily from 9:00. Pirozhkovaya Zdoba is a 24/7 bakery and a café. It treats its guests with pirozhki (small pies), yummy bagels and baguette sandwiches. A perfect place for breakfast round the clock! Vitebskie Ponchiki is a donut shop and a small bakery. Choose the filling and bite the donuts made right away. The bakery offers a menu of traditional Georgian treats: khachapuri, kubdari and others.
Vitebsk Nightlife The nightlife in Vitebsk may not be comparable with other big European cities, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Cherdachok first came into existence as a Beatles-club and gradually developed into the centre of attraction for the city’s intellectuals and music enthusiasts. It’s a multifunctional space that is a concert venue, art centre and an anti-cafe at the same time. Art-pub Torvald is a genuine Irish pub in the heart of Vitebsk. What make this place stand out are the great live performances, along with lectures and workshops. The drinks menu is regularly updated and if you are lucky, you can participate in a free degustation. Bar212 is well-known for its vibrant parties, craft drinks, and amazing burgers.
It’s a good place to hang out with friends. Or find new friends, if you venture there alone. Cherniy Piu Pub is a pirate-themed pub with craft beer and tasty burgers. Small space gives off the feeling of confidentiality. Conveniently located along the bank of the Western Dvina river. Nimbus Hookah Bar is a hookah bar that you will enjoy for sure. The intricate design makes one feel like a hero in a cyberpunk saga. Definitely worth checking out.
Shopping in Vitebsk The best places for grocery shopping are two biggest farmers’ markets, Polotskii rynok and Smolenskii rynok. The roofed markets and outdoor stalls offer a large variety of foods, clothes and household items. Here, you can recharge on typical street food like pirozhki or chebureki! When it comes to shopping malls, GREENCENTER as well as Korona will probably have anything you need. However, prices may be a bit higher compared to regular supermarkets. Art Salon Gallery “The Wall” houses a great collection of paintings, sculptures, and ceramics created by Belarusian artists. Come here for artistic pleasure, and maybe you will find something you want to take home. Shop for antiques in Antique Store Raritet on Kirova street, while admiring
the historic part of the city. Suveniry is a cosy souvenir store featuring handicrafts from the local artisans. The store is located in the downtown area.
Travel around Vitebsk region In one hour from Vitebsk sits Polotsk, the oldest city of Belarus, and one of the oldest cities of Ancient Rus, enshrouded in legends. It has many historic sites to behold, such as Saint Sophia Cathedrall on the hill above Dvina river, and Saint Euphrosyne Monastery dating back to the 12th century. On the banks of Miorskaje lake there is a small town Miory that came into existence in the early 16th century. Apart from the picturesque surroundings it has an impressive neo-Gothic cathedral – the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In a half-hour drive from Miory is Dzisna, the smallest town in Belarus. The city attained Magdeburg rights and its own coat of arms – a rowboat – as early as 1569. Dzisna marks the middle of the Western Dvina river. The landscape reserve Yelnya was created to protect one of the Europe’s largest high bogs rich in biodiversity. The reserve is located in about 200 km from Vitebsk. Many hiking trails are available to nature enthusiasts. It’s better to plan your visit in time for “Cranes and Cranberries of Miory Region” eco-festival in September. l
WHAT BELARUS STANDS FOR… LEARN ABOUT BELARUSIANS, THEIR VALUES, WHAT THEY STAND FOR, THEIR NATIONAL CHARACTER TO TRULY ADMIRE THEM, LOVE THEM AND BEFRIEND THEM…
elarusians often need to explain that Belarus is not Russia. Nor it is any of the other neighbourhood nations. Here, people are different - the way they debate and express their feelings, they represent a national character, which is very much visible and relatively stable.
PEACE AS THE HIGHEST VALUE
Belarusians of the 21st century value peace above everything else. You can spot that belief in common toasts for the peaceful times, in the lyrics of Belarusian hymn, in people of older generations replying to every sensitive question. They believe, all is fine as long as we are not at war. Unlike many nations across the world, Belarusians never had the ideas of messianism in their mentality, never felt like they have to bring a change in the lifestyle of other nations. They are not extremes, never felt they are special and destined to save the world. You won’t even find heroic epic in Belarusian folklore, in spite of it being one of the richest in the world. The reasons for the modern Belarusians being so tranquil is often attributed to the many wars they fought in
despite not initiating them. The premise, however, lies even further than that. 2
If Belarusians throughout their history never cared much for making the whole world a Catholic German communist happy place, what did they care for? They cared for the place they were born in, their family, their near and dear ones. Sometimes that extrapolated to the whole country, but most times, it did not. Loving for their place they were born in is reflected in countless songs, myths, and proverbs. It is shown in the fact that Belarusians migrated very rarely until the twentieth century. When asked where they were from, Belarusians would reply that they are “the locals”. This attitude is heavily integrated into the indifference to the national, social, and political causes which continues to this day. It’s the well-being of the piece of ground that you stand on that matters most, the well-being of your family and friends. It’s that mentality that is often blamed for the vagueness and ambivalence of Belarusian national identity. However, it’s also that mentality that is given credit for the very existence of Belarusian national identity: separating oneself from whatever was happening beyond one’s village made it impossible for both Poles and Russians at different times to overwhelm and take over the Belarusian culture. 3
Not only do Belarusians lack a feeling of national superiority, they historically respect other nations and their culture. During the times of the Great Duchy of Lithuania, Belarusians, Lithuanians,
as well as Ukrainians, Jews, and Tatars lived together in peace. They shared different religious views, had different traditions, and often spoke different languages, yet that was never considered a problem. That idea of effortless tolerance lived on. For example, Belarus is a rare place where anti-semitism was never a thing. Not all is that shiny today: Belarusians are not that high up on the international rankings of tolerance, majorly due to the influence of the Soviet times, where everything different and foreign was considered an enemy. But we hope, Belarusians will go back to their better qualities, given the long history of cohabitation before the seventy years of Soviet Union.. 4
Numerous anecdotes tell us that Belarusians can “suffer through” anything.
May be because, in earlier times, the locations where the Belarusian ethnic group formed and developed was not an easy “feeding” landscape: it’s the one that required work and patience, They had to work and be patient to survive. However, loads depended on the weather, so together with patience, Belarusians developed a fatalistic approach to life. 5 TRADITIONALITY AND CONFORMISM
Patience and fatalism are just one side of the mentality coin: traditionality and conformism are the other. In the conditions of harsh and risky agriculture that Belarusians practiced, every novelty was unwelcome and too risky to try. Therefore, labour required not so much learning and experimenting but steadily repeating what’s been done for generations before. This sort of practical conformism extrapolated to how
ns never Belarusia ideas of e had th m in their messian.isInterestingly, mentalityno heroic epic there is Belarusian in folklore.
Belarusians valued patterns of behaviour, values, and beliefs. Traditionalism became a huge part of Belarusian mentality and that is partly what made Belarusian culture survive. When Christianity was brought to Belarusians, people didn’t give up pagan traditions; when communism took over, a mix of pagan and Christian traditions emerged. Many such traditions are still alive today. 6
Tips for country visitors If you decide to make friends with a Belarusian, there are a few things to remember. “They are not big huggers or “Hey! How are you doing?” people. They are reserved, somewhat serious at first. It is easier if you have friends in common or are introduced through someone they know. “You won’t find a country of more hospitable friendly people”, one traveller concluded. “You just have to get past that wall.”
THE DRAMA IS REAL
Partly due to the harsh reality that Belarusians lived in, they became pessimistic. Many researchers of Belarusian ethnicity and folklore point out the abundance of dramatic, hopeless songs. A happy life is not a value that is respected in Belarus: both now and in the past. It’s the modest standard of living that is appreciated. Modern research shows that Belarusians still generally feel that indulging themselves is inherently wrong. It’s more culturally appropriate to whine and show the outside world how abused they are – just how it used to be for centuries of harsh labour. 7 INDIVIDUALISM AND COLLECTIVISM
In Belarus, one can find individualism and collectivism in an almost 50/50 proportion. It all started when Belarusians would settle down quite far from each other because of the marshy and wooded landscape. In most
cases, every family had to count on just themselves to survive. At the same time, it was important for peasants to be “like everyone else”. When possible, people helped each other, it was acceptable to give advice to the conversational partner before he or she faces a problem. This is something that still exists and flourishes in Belarusian society. During Soviet times, the premise of being like your neighbour turned into a more damaging behaviour of not standing out. For a good reason: the ones that stand out suffered; the ones that attracted too much attention did not survive. The mentality of modern Belarusians in that sense is quite puzzling: they report to prefer collectivistic values, and yet are often introverted, unable and unwilling to work in a team. They continue to connect the two worlds of collectivism and individualism.
CONCLUSION It’s important to realize that however you feel about Belarusian mentality, it’s exactly what made the nation survive – against the odds. And, unlike many others, it survived not at the cost of other nations. Quite the opposite: in a calm manner, getting through all the horrible things that have happened during the last centuries, distracting themselves from reality through fantasy and humour, Belarusians lived on and may even become a happier nation at some point. As we remember, mentality changes slower than the outside world. l
PERSERVING BELARUS’ ENDANGERED LANGUAGE
WHY BELARUSIANS DO NOT SPEAK THEIR MOTHER TONGUE? READ ON…
When in Belarus, speak as the Belarusians speak! Here are 15 words that are used in everyday life. Learn them, use them and surprise your Belarusian friends…. Fajna means cool, topnotch and super-duper! When a friend asks you to a cool night out in Minsk or Grodno, you respond “Fajna!”
Why Belarusians do not speak the Belarusian language? This is one of the most delicate and tiresome questions a foreigner may ask a local. Belarusian and Russian are the official languages of Belarus. But how come present day Belarusians speak Russian better than their mother tongue? Obviously, it all starts with history that always goes hand in hand with politics. There is no exact data on when the Belarusian language originated in history, though it existed for centuries. We have written sources to build up a picture of the events that have led to the present situation. 1229 – the treaty between Smalensk, Ryga and Gotsky bereg with distinctive features of the Belarusian language. 1517 – Francysk Skaryna publishes his first edition of the Bible with his own prefaces in the Old Belarusian (Ruthenian). 1529 – the First Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: all the legislation written in Belarusian. 1566 – the Second Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: Belarusian is the official language of the state. 1859-1905 – publishing in Belarusian Latin script was banned in Russian Empire. 1862 – the first illegal
newspaper Mużyckaja prauda by Kastuś Kalinoŭski. 1897 – 5.89 million people declared themselves speakers of Belarusian during the Russian Empire Census. 1906 – the first legal Naša Dolia newspaper written in Belarusian. 1918 – Belarusian is the official language of the Belarusian People’s Republic (BNR). 1926 – International Academic Conference in Minsk on the Belarusian language. 1929 – the start of the mass repressions against the Belarusian linguists and writers. 1933 – the Russification Language Reform of the Belarusian language. 1990 – Belarusian is the only state language. As seen from the turbulent history of the country, its territory and its language repeatedly became the spheres of influence of the Russian Empire, Poland, and other states. It saw years and even centuries of aggressive Polonisation and Russification policies. Belarusian was banned in schools and public institutions, shunned as the language of peasants, villagers, and
Samota is a feeling of sadness, melancholy, vague anxiety. It also means a pleasant but poignant longing for something important and intimate. Remember Lana Del Ray’s “summertime sadness”? That’s samota 100%. Zahaplennie is when you feel fascinated and charmed by something or someone – an impressive landscape or your favourite actor or actress. Piashchota is the word used to describe tenderness, limitless delicacy, mother’s care and a sense of light and warmth. The adjective from it would be piashchotny. Trymciennie stands for awe, a pleasant or a disturbing tremor. The word is often used in the sense of leaves’ trembling. Mroja means airy dreams and pleasant fantasies, or daydreaming. Which is useful and so pleasant sometimes! Impet is what comes when you’re eager to turn your ‘mroja’ into reality. The word means assertiveness, commitment and driving force, motivation and creative energy discharge similar to inspiration. Gareza stands for madcap, prankster or hellion. Do you have a friend who is always ruining your perfect photos and falling into risky situations? Well, congrats, there’s a ‘hareza’ in your company! Kali laska is a Belarusian version of ‘you are welcome but said in a tender way. Try pronouncing this beautiful phrase! Znichka means a falling star. And you can see many of those during a hot summer night in Belarus! Dziakuj! is how we say ‘Thank you!’ in Belarusian. Certainly, a helpful word to know. Asaloda is used to describe the special sweetness and charm of the moment or luxury of getting pleasure from life. Pamiarkouasc is a trait of character meaning towardness, tractability and tolerance. The word describes Belarusians perfectly! Shchymliva is an adverb that means сausing a feeling of heartache that can be pleasant and aching at the same time. For example, many tourists feel so when leaving Belarus. Kachannie is very easy to explain. Cause it’s the best feeling in the world – love!
dent Indepen port re sources 0% of 1 less than ns use ia s ru la Be n in their Belarusia lives. daily
nationalists. It faced a series of drastic crackdowns and there were just several short periods when Belarusian culture flourished.
LANGUAGE INTERVENTION After gaining independence from the USSR in 1991, the Belarusian language regained its prestige and popular interest and became the language spoken in Belarus but not for long. Four years later, the Russian language was introduced as the second state language, while the Belarusian language lost its status as the only official language. Brainwashed for centuries, Belarusians had little reason to switch back to Belarusian.
There was no real government support and promotion of the native language. The number of Belarusianonly language schools were decreasing, books published in Russian were prevailing, state television and newspapers were predominantly in Russian. The language was gradually stigmatized in favour of Russia. In the following years, Belarusian became the language of the political opposition and counter-culture. Those speaking Belarusian were perceived as renegades and were subjected to discrimination in a Russian-speaking society.
At the moment even language experts can not estimate the exact number of Belarusians speaking their mother tongue. Government statistics put the figure at 23% of the population, according to the census of 2009. It also shows 72% of Belarusians speak Russian at home, while Belarusian is actively used by only 11.9% of Belarusians. About 29.4% of Belarusians can write, speak, and read it; while 52.5% can only read and speak it. Meanwhile, independent sources report less than 10% of Belarusians using Belarusian in their daily lives. The UNESCO put Belarusian in the category of endangered languages. Currently, the language speakers are mostly represented by older rural inhabitants and a handful of those living in the cities. Now, there is an equal status of Belarusian and Russia. Recently, the situation has started changing slightly. Belarusians are tired of being associated with Russians and finally seem ready to embrace their identity and language. Due to the efforts of numerous public language organizations, pro-Belarusian public figures, musicians, philosophers, and entrepreneurs, new signs of the spread of Belarusian have emerged. Here and there one can come across outdoor billboards promoting Belarusian, listen to the messages in public transport and use the metro map with the Belarusian Latin alphabet version. Several state TV channels broadcast in Belarusian, businesses and brands are switching to Belarusian in their advertising campaigns. Among them are a private network of gas stations A-100, Velcom cell-phone operator, Samsung, BelWeb Bank, local food chains, just to name a few. Is there any future for the Belarusian language? We can not tell. And somehow, right now, it feels more than appropriate to recall the famous appeal of poet and writer Frantishak Bagushevich to Belarusians â€œDo not forsake our language, lest you pass away.â€? l
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TRACING BACK THE HISTORY HISTORY
BASED ON ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDINGS, BELARUSIAN HISTORY CHANGING NAMES AND FACES CAN BE TRACED BACK TO 30,000 YEARS. THE FATHER OF THE ANCIENT HISTORY, HERODOTUS, LEFT THE FIRST WRITTEN EVIDENCE OF THE EXISTENCE OF MODERN BELARUS.
he name of the country – Belarus – is relatively new and has been associated with the modern territory of Belarus itself for only the last couple of centuries. Here comes the most confusing point: for an outsider, even for a close neighbour, it is not easy to identify Belarus with the Belarusian historical state entities and ethnonyms due to different terms used. But it is easy for the locals – when history is deriving from the stories and plots of the family trees. Other names of the country historically used were: “Litwa” or “Letuva” (from the middle ages till the division of the Polish–Litwanian Commonwealth (Rzech Pospolita Confederation) in the 18th century), “White Russia” or “North-Western Krai” (Russian Imperial Rule) and “Belorussia” (Soviet period). Regardless of the name, Belarus has a rich historical past, which can be traced back to the Neolithic period and the times of the Krywichy clan. Based on archaeological findings, we can trace Belarusian history back to 30,000 years. The father of ancient history, Herodotus, was the first to leave written evidence that people lived in the territory of modern Belarus. There were three major Slavic clans – Krywichy, Drygovichi and Radzimichi (of mostly settled agricultural outset), as well as multiple Baltic tribes (to simplify – well-organized hunterstravelers). The Belarusian ethnical code comprises both the genes of the “three sisters” of the modern Eastern Slavic world – Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and contemporary Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) and part of Germany (ex-Prussia – formerly purely Baltic tribal territory). Due to that Belarusians preserved two great European traditions simultaneously – Christian and Pagan. The ancient Belarusian folk songs are still being performed today blending ancient pagan roots of the nation with the rich Christian tradition of the high middle ages. Songs whose origins arise from the distant pagan past, centuries before Christianity and long before even the melodies of the medieval times were written.The story of the oldest European folk songs ancient Belarusian folk songs begins in Belarus. From 9th to 13th centuries, Belarus was represented by 3 princedoms: Polatsk, Turava-Pinsk and Haradzensk, but its golden era was during the time of the great King Vitawt, who ruled at the end of 14th century when Belarus, known then as Litwa, was a major part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, one of the greatest medieval empires of Europe, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. The Belarusian city of Navahrudak was the first capital of the Grand Duchy and the old Belarusian language was the official language of the state. Due to the geographic position, Belarus was a precious and strategically valuable place – that boosted not only trade but also wars and conflicts. The status of the territory was constantly changing and the locals were suffering from almost every single European war campaign. From the 16th till the 18th century Belarus became the
founder of the most major European confederation by the occupied territory – Rzech Pospolita (Polish–Litwanian Commonwealth). But the status of the Belarusian language changed: in 1697, the Parliament of Rzech Pospolita issued a declaration that all the state correspondence must be conducted in Polish. This ended a history of old Belarusian language and old Belarusian literature. That is why even till now there is no direct connection between the selfidentification of the nation and the language used by Belarusians (or Litswins – then-time ethnonym of the nation). Then from the end of the 18th till the beginning of the 20th century, it was a part of the constantly enlarging by territory Russian Empire. It was Prussian-born Russian Empress, Yekaterina II who issued three laws very significant for Belarus. First one: both the territorial (Belarus) and ethnical (Litwa) ethnonyms were completely prohibited as well as the use of the Belarusian language, and the country was known merely the “North-Western Krai (region)”. Moreover, Yekaterina II, who was not only an empress but also a historian, who arranged historical facts in such a way that they justified and explained that she did not just seize these lands, but reunited them de-facto re-writing the history of the whole nation. Due to that even till these days the fact that Belarus is, in fact, a nation-based country and that Belarusians have a right to speak, write and create in their own language has been not obvious for some community groups. Her second Belarus-oriented law: she introduced the costly procedure of “proving your noble backround” which was completely irrelevant for the Belarusian nation. It was because the number of the noble people in Belarus was higher than in the rest of the Russian empire territory. Even now Belarusians respect good reputation more than just wealth. But the third law was not so bad for the country: Yekaterina II banned the settlement of Jews further to the East than at the borderline drawn at the territory of Belarus. This way she enriched Belarus with the Jewish trade-manufacturing town and city culture – and Belarus became the Christian territory of the peaceful coexistence of both the Muslim and Jewish minority communities. After the Revolution in 1917, Belarus became a republic of the Communist USSR, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialistic Republic, or the BSSR. Belarusians occupied a very significant place in
Belarusians are really very good at mingling with cultures of other countries. Don’t believe us? Here are the facts…
Art & Culture MARC CHAGALL
Born in Vicebsk. Marc Chagall is wellknown international figure as a master of classic avant-garde art.
Born in Vicebsk in 1930, Alferov won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2000. His contributions to physics and technology of semiconductor heterostructures, especially investigations of injection properties, development of lasers, solar cells, LEDs, and epitaxy processes, have led to the creation of modern heterostructure physics and electronics.
Born in Hrodna in 1866. A famed artist and stage designer, decorator, dress designer, portrait painter, master of easel painting, and one of the founders of the World of Art group. Collaborated with Sergei Diaghilev and Ballets Russes and designed exotic, richly colored sets and costumes.
LOUIS BURT MAYER
Born in Belarus in 1746 (Meračoŭščyna manor, now Kosava). A national hero in America, Belarus, Lithuania and Poland for his leadership in the American Revolutionary War and the uprising against Imperial Russia and the Prussian Empire in 1794. Mount Kosciuszko, the tallest mountain in Australia, is named after him. In the United States, places named after Kociuszko include Kosciusko Island in Alaska, Kosciusko County in Indiana, the city of Kosciusko in central Mississippi, street and schools in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, and numerous streets and parks.
Born in Rečica District (Homel Oblast) in 1814. A diplomat, orientalist, explorer, the first Consul of the Russian Empire in Japan and the author of the first JapaneseRussian dictionary. Several species of insects and the gulf in North Korea (Chosan-man) were named after him. His 200th birthday included into the UNESCO Calendar of Events for 2014-2015.
CHAIM WIEZMAN Born in Belarus in the village Motal (nowadays - Ivanava district, Brest region) in 1874. An outstanding chemist who gave lectures in Switzerland and Great Britain. As an active Zionist, he was elected the first president of Israel (1949) and remained at this post until his death (1952).
SHIMON PERES An Israeli politician who served as the ninth President of Israel (2007–2014), the Prime Minister of Israel (twice), and the Interim Prime Minister, from the 1970s to the 1990s. He was awarded with the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.
Born in Minsk in 1885, cinematographer Louis Burt Mayer is best known as one of founders of the Hollywood film studio MetroGoldwyn-Mayer and the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It was Mayer who suggested the annual Oscar awards.
Svetlana Alexievich is a famed Belarusian writer and journalist. Her books include “War Does Not Have a Woman’s Face,” “Boys in Zinc”, “Enchanted with Death”, “The Chernobyl Prayer” and “Second-hand Time”. Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature in 2015
A well-known Belarusian-American rocket scientist. He is the author of the first manual on rocket propellant “Rocket Propellant Handbook”, published in 1960. Kit worked at the Astronautics Bureau of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation on the mathematical team supporting the Moon mission. A “time capsule” with Kit’s name was immured in the wall of Capitol in Washington.
Religion SAINT EUPHROSYNE
DO YOU KNOW? MANY FAMOUS PEOPLE GLOBALLY ARE BELARUSIANS ACTUALLY.
Science & Technology IGNACY DOMEJKO Born in Belarus in 1802, Domejko was a well-known geologist who spent most of his life in Chile where he became a national hero. He is officially recognised by UNESCO for his achievements.
NIKOLAI SUDZILOVSKY (Nicholas Russell) An ethnographer, a geographer, a chemist, a biologist, a genetic doctor, the first president of the Hawaii State Senate. Born to an impoverished noble family in 1850 in Mahilioŭ. Lived majorly in Hawaii where he fought for the rights of the local people. PAVEL SUKHOI Born in 1895, in the town of Glubokaje, Vicebsk. An aerospace engineer, an inventor, one of the creators of supersonic jets, a designer of more than 50 original aircraft solutions, more than 30 of which have been constructed and tested.
the Soviet elite and the Soviet Belarus (Belorussia) became a best-scoring economy of the USSR in terms of efficiency and technological-industrial potential. That made the matter of the national identification secondary for most of the Belarusians. Finally in 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union,
Born in the 12th century, Euphrosyne is considered the patron saint of Belarus. Descended from a noble family, she became a nun at the age of 12 and spent her life helping the poor and building churches and monasteries across Belarus.
Sports ALEKSANDR MEDVED Belarusian sportsman and trainer (freestyle wrestling). Olympic Champion (1964, 1968, 1972) and World Champion (1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1969–1971). He is recognized as the best freestyle wrestler of the 20th century.
DARYA DOMRACHEVA Four-time winner, a silver and a bronze medalist of the Olympic Games, two-time world champion, winner of several World Cups, Honoured Master of Sport and the Hero of Belarus. The winner of the Biathlon Award 2010 (Female Athlete of the Year).
VICTORIA AZARENKA Belarusian professional tennis player. In January 2012, Victoria became WTA World No. 1. At the 2012 London Olympic Games, she won gold medal in mixed doubles and bronze medal in the women’s singles.
the state became the independent Republic of Belarus. From that moment till now Belarusians keep balancing not only between different cultures and trade routes but also between the different paradigms of the national identification trying to find a proper place in the past while building a solid and dynamic future. l
BELARUS FOR ALL SEASONS BELARUS IS AN ALL-SEASON TOURIST DESTINATION. WE BRING YOU THE LIST OF PLACES AND ACTIVITIES THAT ONE CAN ENJOY DEPENDING ON THE WEATHER…
WINTER Winter is a perfect time to wander along forest paths, catching snowflakes and looking for traces of fantastic beasts and elusive animals.
4 Places to Enjoy Winters 1 BELAVEZHSKAJA PUSHCHA NATIONAL PARK is one of the most ancient forests in Europe, mentioned in a chronicle that goes back to 983. The average age of the trees here is 100 years, but many of ashes and pines have exceeded 300 years. The forest is a home to one of the largest European animals and a symbol of Belarus – the Belarusian bison. You can see these giants in enclosures for 2.5 BYN (~€1) . However, a walk in the woods will also be an exciting experience. In Belavezhskaja Pushcha, there are hiking trails and cycling tracks. But for the lazybones, there are bus excursions that will take you on a tour of the main natural attractions: the 600-year-old oak, a giant pine and a birch with a build-up in the form of a bison’s head.
The easiest way to get there is from Brest. For a lunch in Belavezhskaja Pushcha, go to a small namesake restaurant or to cafes.
for a group of up to 10 people). Travel to Berezinsky biosphere reserve by bus or shuttle and spend a night in a guest house (from 48 BYN (~€24).
2 THE BRASLAV LAKES NATIONAL PARK is another luring option for nature lovers – here one can climb Mayak ‘mountain’ for a view, walk on one of three eco-trails, observe wild animals or meditate during winter fishing. Prices range depending on the number of people and type of tours – from 4.5 BYN (~€2) to 50 BYN (~€25). To get to the Belarusian ‘Lake District’, use a bus to Braslav or go by car. The journey is likely to last for more than a day, so you can spend a night in one of the accommodation facilities in the national park (prices for a single room start from 25 BYN (~€12), or you can get a house for 130-280 BYN (~€63-135). Some accommodation facilities have saunas and banyas that can be booked in advance.
4 SHISHKI COUNTRYSIDE is the closest to Minsk in Uzda district. There, one can ‘get hot’ in Russian sauna or a tub with hot water after active sledging or skiing in the forest. The place reminds Scandinavia – and is offered for 190 BYN (~€92) per room.
3 BEREZINSKY BIOSPHERE RESERVE is a protected area that combines forest, rivers, and swamps. There are a lot of ways to get close to nature there – a forest zoo, hiking trails, horse and ski excursions (35 BYN (~€17)
5 Places to Do Winter Sports in Belarus Those who have loads of energy, should definitely try skiing and snowboarding.Although Belarus is not usually associated with mountain resorts its highest point being only 345 meters, you can still have a good ride! 1 LOGOYSK SKI COMPLEX: Located some 35 km away from Minsk on M3 highway, Logoysk ski complex has five slopes and one training slope. There is a rental for every equipment, tubing, paintball, ice fishing and, of course, a sauna and skiing lessons for beginners. Open: Mon-Thu 12.00 to 23.00, Fri 12.00
to 02.00, Sat 10.00 to 02.00, Sun 10.00 to 22.00 Prices: Full day ski-pass for adults 32 BYN (~€15) on weekdays, and 45 BYN (~€22) at weekends, for children –16 BYN (~€8), 22 BYN (~€10) at weekends. 1-hour ski-pass for adults 10 BYN (~€5) on weekdays, 16 BYN at weekends; for children – 5 BYN (~€2.5) on weekdays, 8 BYN (~€8.5) at weekends. 2 SILICHI: Keep driving along M3
and you’ll get to the ‘Mecca’ of all Belarusian skiers - the complex Silichi. 13 runs of 650 m, 700 m and 920 m, extreme sports park, 2 trampolines, a training slope for beginners and monitoring if you want to check the quality of snow! Open: Mon-Fri 12.00 to 23.00, Sat 09.00 to 22.00, Sun 09.00 to 20.00 Prices: Full day ski-pass for adults 35 BYN (~€17), 50 BYN (~€24) at weekends; for children – 17 BYN (~€8) on weekdays, 25 BYN (~€12) at weekends. 1-hour ski-pass for adults costs 11 BYN (~€5), 18 BYN (~€8) at weekends; for children – 5 BYN (~€2) on weekdays, 9 BYN (~€4) at weekends. There are also individual lessons: single for 25 BYN (~€12), 2 people for 40 BYN (~€20), 3-5 people – 60 BYN (~€30). 3 SOLNECHNAYA DOLINA: If you are not the most experienced skier or snowboarder you can go to Solnechnaya Dolina park in Minsk. There are training slopes, a small ramp, the rental of skiing equipment and tubing. Ski-pass is twice cheaper than in Logoysk and Silichi, and there are also individual lessons. 4 YAKUTSKIYE GORY: The amateurs of winter sports can also practice in Yakutskiye Gory active park and Westa sports complex, both in Dzerzhinsk district. There is skiing,
snowboarding, tubing and other facilities to enjoy a weekend outside to the full! 5 MINSK: Remember classic
romantic movies? An open rink, knitted mittens, huge snowflakes and a Sinatra in the background… So why not invite someone you like and go break the ice? There are 6 places to go for ice skating in Minsk. 1. The most popular is NemigaRink. It is usually rather crowded but unless you intend to practice skating professionally, the conditions are quite good. Price: 5 Belarusian rubles (~€2.5) for adults, 4 Belarusian rubles (~€2) for children. Rental: 3 Belarusian rubles (~€1.5). 2. Chizhovka Arena has a large rink, many lockers and comfortable benches for those who feel tired. Skating sessions vary depending on the day of the week, so we advise to check the schedule on the website. Price: 4 Belarusian rubles (~€2) for adults, 2,7 Belarusian rubles (~€1) for children.
Rental: 3 Belarusian rubles (~€1.5). 3. If you have time to go skating outside the city, do not hesitate! Besides skating, in Raubichi, you can go on a walk in winter woods and have a look at the elegant church. Take into consideration that skating schedule often changes and mass skating is only at weekends. Price: 4 Belarusian rubles (~€2) for adults, 3 Belarusian rubles (~€1.5) for children. Rental: 3 Belarusian rubles (~€1.5). 4. Skating rink in Zamok shopping center is the only indoor ice rink in Minsk located in a big mall. So one can also go shopping and watch movies there. There is a food court next to the rink. Price: 7 Belarusian rubles (~€3.5) for adults, 5 Belarusian rubles (~€2.5) for children. Rental: 5 Belarusian rubles (~€2.5). 5. The rink of the Minsk Ice Sport Palace is a good option for those who want more space – there visitors skate on a real hockey field. The location is also
convenient as the skating rink is situated near Spartyŭnaja metro station. Price: 5 Belarusian rubles (~€2.5) for adults, 3.5 Belarusian rubles (~€1.5) for children. Rental: 3.5 Belarusian rubles (~€1.5). 6. Do you like extreme sports? Then you definitely should visit Minsk Arena. You can go skating on 400 m speed skating tracks, or, if you are not that adventurous, there is a warm-up track and a hockey field. Skating sessions are usually held in the evening, and you would better check the schedule before going to the Arena as changes are possible. Price: 4.5 Belarusian rubles (~€2) for adults, 2.5 Belarusian rubles (~€1) for children. Rental: 2.5 Belarusian rubles (~€1).
Winter in Belarus is a good time to do something unusual. Here are three fun activities to help brighten the last winter month in anticipation of spring! Sledging with huskies: A one-hour ride costs 199 Belarusian rubles (~€95) and you can stroke those fluffy dogs as much as you want! Driving an ATV is a cool source of adrenaline! You can also rent ATVs. Rental prices start from 44 Belarusian rubles (~€21). Zorbing: Have you ever tried to roll down a hill in an inflatable balloon? If your vestibular system is strong enough, fancy giving it a try!
SPRING 15 ideas – sort of special rituals – to pull you out of a sleepy winter mood and attract the real spring, both to your heart and to Belarus. Here is the list of spring
things to do! 1. Wake up at 5 am and listen to morning birds trills in the forest 2. Taste and learn how to get the birch sap from trees in the woods. 3. Call for spring as ancient Belarusians did at Gukanne Vyasny festival in the skansen museum in Aźjarco. 4. Go to Belovezhskaya pushcha in Brest region to see how nature awakens. 5. Pay a visit St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the oldest Orthodox Church in Minsk, with white willow and juniper in your hands just a week before Easter on the White Willow Sunday. 6. Enjoy a ballet or an opera at the Belarusian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. 7. Play pranks on Belarusians on April Fool’s Day pretending you are a local and speak Belarusian. 8. Taste kulich and win in traditional coloured eggs beating on Orthodox Easter.
9. Trace your forgotten Belarusian roots and visit ancestors’ graves for Radunica on 25 April. 10. Visit the Central Botanical Gardens in Minsk to enjoy flowers in blossom. 11. Ride a tank in the Stalin Line, watch a military parade and spectacular Victory Day fireworks in Minsk or hop on a train to Brest and spend an evening in the Brest Fortress on 9 May. 12. Let a balloon in the sky at the school last bell ceremony on 25 May. 13. Visit all Minsk museums in one evening during the Night of the Museums. 14. Take part in a medieval knights battle near the ruins of Halshany Castle in Hrodna region. 15. Catch the inspiration out of the city noise in Krasny Dvorik (the Red Patio) in Revaliucyjnaja Street in Minsk. Forget all travel guide tips and explore Minsk like a local!
SUMMER Hey, are you ready to dive into sun and fun? If you are with us on that, check out the list of ideas to make your summer in Belarus really unforgettable. Anchors aweigh! 1. Meet a colorful sunrise on one of the Belarusian lakes. 2. Plunge into Belarusian history by visiting old countryside estates. 3. Try the true Belarusian samogon (moonshine) and have a snack of cucumbers with honey. 4. Visit one of the knights’ tournaments on a medieval battlefield or one of the best summer festivals in Belarus. 5. Take a bike ride in one of the Belarusian nature reserves or national parks. 6. Weave a wreath from cornflowers or dandelions.
7. Visit the Brest Fortress at night on 22 June and see a re-enactment of the start of the Great Patriotic War. 8. Wheedle a recipe of the most delicious cocktail from a bartender in a bar in Zybitskaya street, the most happening place in Minsk. 9. Get rid of stress and rest after partying by spending a night in a hay loft on a farm. 10. Jump over a bonfire on Kupala Night and send a flower wreath floating down the river. 11. Visit the Independence Day parade in Minsk on 3 July. They have promised a big show this year. 12. Leave a busy highway and get directions through several Belarusian villages to see the true Belarus. 13. Buy clothes from Belarusian linen to feel better in the summer heat. 14. Have a dinner on the roof of one of Minsk restaurants to enjoying city views. 15. Go on a safari in the Braslav Lakes National Park and take a picture of a moose in nature’s lap. 16. Depart on a literary tour around Belarus – admire romantic landscapes of Vyazynka village, where the poet Yanka Kupala was born, and sublime beauty of Vitebsk, that inspired Marc Chagall. 17. Wake up at dawn and go fishing to one of the many Belarusian rivers or lakes! 18. Get an invitation from your Belarusian friends to their dacha to make shashlyk (barbeque) and relax in banya. 19. Rise to the sightseeing platform of the most avant-garde building of Minsk, the National Library of Belarus, and look at the city from above.
AUTUMN Autumn is the season of harvesting, so there are many tasks connected with it in the life of Belarusians. But it doesn’t mean there will be all work and no play – fall’s events are not less awesome than
summers. 1. Learn how to dig up potatoes. Ask your Belarusian friends to take you to their country house and help them harvest the nation’s favourite vegetable. 2. See how a real lamplighter lights lamp posts in Sovetskaya Street in Brest. The time of the his appearance is shown by the clock at the very beginning of the street. 3. Enjoy the last barbecue outside before winter. 4. Visit one of the Festivals of National Cultures at Minsk Town Hall on Saturday. The festivals begin in June and are held till September. 5. Go silent hunting! Berries and mushrooms are waiting for you in Belarusian forests. 6. And go to see the Cranes and Cranberries Festival in Myory. It is the place of the biggest harvest of cranberries in Belarus on Europe’s biggest raised moors. 7. Cheer for FC BATE in Europa League matches on Borisov-Arena. The first one with Arsenal F.C. is on 28 September! 8. Taste authentic Belarusian moonshine and chase it with a pickle and honey. 9. Go to the top of the tower of the church in Gervyaty and enjoy the view! 10. Pick up apples and surprise friends with a delicious apple pie. 12. Visit a performance of 7th TEART International Theater Forum. One of the most spectacular and anticipated theater projects of autumn, TEART 2017 is going to present 19 productions from 8 countries on 27 September – 16 October. 11. Make an autumn’s bouquet from the fallen leaves in Loshitsky park in Minsk. 13. Go bird watching! 14. Take part in the historical reenactment of the battle with Napoleon’s army on the Berezina river. 15. Ask your Belarusian friends to teach you how to pickle veggies and fruits and help them store up with preserves for the winter. l
Belarus MUST VISIT
A GUIDE TO CASTLES & ESTATES OF BELARUS by Anait Arzumanyan
It is hard to believe that there used to be more than a hundred castles and even more palaces and estates in Belarus. Only a few dozens of them have survived, mostly in ruins. But sometimes these ruins attract more attention and stir one’s imagination deeper than any other modern piece of architecture. Ready to discover the secrets hidden behind ageold walls? Read on…
When you look at the castles and estates in Belarus, Grodno region is the richest among all architectural attractions. The region’s capital is lucky enough to have two castles – the Old one and the New one, the only preserved royal castles on the territory of Belarus. The 10-11th century Old Castle used to be the seat of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and Poland. In the 14th century, it became one of the main residencies of Duke Vitaut, who rebuilt a wooden fortress into a stone castle with five towers. This building supplemented with Stephen Bathory’s Renaissance changes
is largely preserved until now. As you come closer to the Old Castle and notice building bustle, don’t get frustrated – the ongoing restoration works put no limitations on existing expositions. The restoration of the castle started in September 2017, and will include three stages. The first one – the renovation of the gate, gallery and tower – is to be finished by 2020. The second stage deals with the restoration of the palace and the third one with that of the walls at the Neman river and courtyard. The New Castle actually is not new at all, as it was built in the 18th century. This was the place where Polish King and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stanislaw August Poniatowski signed the act of renunciation. Nowadays both castles host the exposition of the Grodno Historical and Archaeological Museum. Castles are open on Tue-Sun from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm. Admission Old Castle– 4.20 BYN/2 USD/1.80 EUR*. Admission New Castle – 3 BYN/1.43 USD/1.27 EUR (*Prices in rubles, euro and dollars as of April 2019).
Mir Castle is the celebrity of the region and the country on the whole because it was the first architectural monument in Belarus included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Radziwills were the most famous owners of this residence, which now have turned into a multifunctional place of interest. Mir Castle is not just a museum – they have a hotel inside the ancient walls, a restaurant with Belarusian cuisine, and even a sauna. One has to be brave enough to spend a night in this place as locals believe that the castle is full of ghosts. The legend runs that there used to be an orchard instead of the lake near the castle, but it had been mercilessly cut out by the last owners. The trees were in blossom and people believed the curse befall on the castle for destroying them. They say a witch, whose son had died while working on it, cast a spell on the lake. She told the Prince that people would be drowning in the lake until the number of victims was equal to the number of cut-down trees. It is terrifying but people, mostly young men, have been drowning in the lake since then. So if you are under 40,
you’d better stay away from this lake. Mir Castle is open daily 10.00 am – 6.00 pm, from May 1 till September 1. The castle closes at 7.00 pm. Pricing: 14 BYN/6.67 USD/5.93 EUR. Lida Castle was built in 1323 by order of Duke Hiedzimin. It has two towers and was mainly used for defense. The castle was severely damaged during the Great Northern War (1700-1721). After the restoration, it has become the center for knight festivals and tournaments. One of the main open-airs Lidbeer takes place here annually. During this event, you can enjoy good music and find more about local brewing traditions. Tue-Sun 10.00 am – 7.00 pm.
Admission 9 BYN/4.29 USD/3.81 EUR. Lubcha Castle was founded in the 16th century by Kishka family and later belonged to the Radziwills as well. In the layout, the castle resembles a rectangle with four towers, of which only two survived. The Castle in Lubcha is the only one in Belarus that is being restored by volunteers solely on the money of a charitable foundation. Probably, in near future, the castle towers will open for visitors. In the meantime, the complex can be viewed only from outside. Castles that are ruined and waiting for revival Besides the castles that are open or being restored, Grodno Region has three castles that are ruined, awaiting to be revived. These are Kreva, Navahrudak, and Halshany. Kreva Castle: The early 14th century Kreva Castle was the first fully stone castle in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania built by Hiedzimin, and played a crucial role in the history of Belarus and Europe. It was there where Keistut, a claimant to the Grand Duke’s throne, was killed on the orders of his nephew, Grand Duke Jagiello in 1382. Keistut’s son Vitaut, the future ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, managed to escape dressed as a maid. In 1385, the Krevo Union – the union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland under the rule of Jagiello – was established in the castle. Navahrudak: The castles in Krevo, Lida and Navahrudak constituted a line of defense
against the invasions of Teutonic knights, the so-called “Stone Belt”. Nowadays, only ruined tower of Navahrudak castle stands on a hill. Halshany: This castle was built in the early 17th century by Sapeha family. Quite often it is associated with the historical detective “Chorny Zamak Alshansky” by the Belarusian classic Uladzimir Karatkevich. You may hear a lot of mysterious stories about white ladies and black monks living in the castle, but as soon as you see the ruined condition of the castle you will understand that neither ladies, nor monks have a place to dwell. Nowadays, the annual festival “Halshany Castle” is held here in May. Famous Estates in Grodno Region One of the most famous estates is Zalesse. It belonged to Mikhail Kleofas Oginski, a diplomat and politician, who was also a talented composer. In the 19th century, this place was called the “Northern Athens”, as it was in Zalesse that famous poets, painters, musicians gathered for social events. It is believed that Michal Kleofas Oginski, who was forced to leave his Motherland after the uprising of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, created his world famous Polonaise, “Farewell to the Homeland” in this estate. In 2014, the place opened for visitors and since then fascinating balls and evenings have been organized here. Tue-Sun 9.00 am 6.00 pm. Admission 4 BYN/1.90 USD/1.65 EUR. Drutski-Lubetski Palace, built in 19th century in
Shchuchyn, has been restored, although the interiors are not preserved. Nowadays, the building houses an educational establishment and a city museum branch, whose employees are eager to tell about the family that once possessed the estate. Three wonderful estates in Grodno region were bought by private owners and now are under reconstruction – the Palace of the SviatopolkChetvertinskies in Zheludok, and country seats in Kraski and Zhemyslavl. The first one is so impressive that it became the place where the Belarusian horror film, Massacre was filmed in 2010. The palace is open for the visitors daily from 10.00 am till 5.00 pm, admission fee is 4 BYN/1.90 USD/1.65 EUR. The two others, unfortunately, can not be visited but you can have a fascinating stroll around them. The Palace and Park complex of the Valovichies in Sviatsk and the wooden estate of the Tyshkeviches in Zharkovshchina have been fully revived and now are used as recreational and hotel centers.
In Brest, we can find one of the oldest landmarks of the country, the Tower of Kamenets. Also known as the White Tower, despite the tower is not white, because of the tower’s proximity to Belovezhskaya Pushcha forest (“belyy” means white in Belarusian). Nowadays, the 700 years old donjon houses a branch of the Brest Regional Museum.
Belarus MUST VISIT
Wed-Sun 9.15 am – 5.15 pm Admission – 2.83 BYN/1,35 USD/1,20 EUR Two palaces in Brest Region deserve special attention. The one is the 18th century neoclassical Ruzhany Palace, which belonged to Sapeha family as well as Halshany Castle, which was the main seat of the princes. The palace was famous for its deep, multi-tiered cellars, where weapons, important documents and treasures, archives of the family, and a collection of rare expensive wines and other alcoholic beverages were kept. At present, the restored ornate gate and entry building house a museum. Wed-Sun 9.00 am – 1.00 pm, 2.00 pm – 6.00 pm. Admission 3 BYN/1.43 USD/1.27 EUR. It is believed that Ruzhany palace was connected with another one located in Kossovo by a huge underground passage (by the way, they say the same thing about Mir and Nesvizh castles). The neo-gothic palace in Kossovo was originally founded by Puslouski family but later the Sapehas were one of the owners. Even now, the building is really amazing in its beauty. It has 12 towers, one for each month of the year. Legend says that a lion was the palace’s keeper, and the owners let the animal free at night in order to guard their dreams. The “musical” staircase with tubular bones of animals was another landmark of Kossovo. When a
lady, coming upstairs, touched the wall with her dress there emerged a unique sound, which welcomed a guest and notified the owners about visitors. Wed-Sun 10.00 am – 5.00 pm. Admission 3 BYN/1.43 USD/1.27 EUR. The estate of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a well-known military and political figure in Belarus and the USA, is also located in Kossovo. Wed-Sun 10.00 am – 5.00 pm. Admission 2 BYN/0.95 USD/0.85 EUR. If you are looking for rich museum collections, museumestate Pruzhansky Palatsyk and the estate of Niamtsevich family is what you must see. The first one is the only revived Belarusian estate in modern style dating back to the 19th century. The country seat of Niamtsevich family appeared in the village of Skoki in the middle of the 18th century. The most famous owner, Julian Niamtsevich was a writer and publicist, and a leading advocate for the 3 May 1791 Constitution of the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth. Another museum is located inside the former palace of Mateush Butrymavich, an outstanding political figure of the late 18th century. The building combines traits of Baroque and Classicism and maybe you would be lucky enough to find the stone laid in the foundation by the last king of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth Stanislaw August Poniatowski.
Brest region is rich in abandoned estates full of strength and impressiveness. Gloomy Gremiacha, red brick Flerianovo, neoclassical Yastrembl all well deserve a visit. Do not forget about the unique Reytan’s wooden estate in Grushevka. These places won’t leave you indifferent.
The landmark of Minsk Region is Nesvizh Castle, the companion of Mir Castle in the UNESCO list. It was founded by Radziwill family in the late 16th century. Nesvizh castle is one of the most romantic places in Belarus due to the picturesque park and breathtaking beauty of the palace itself. And, as any respectable castle, it has its own ghost. Black Lady Barbara Radziwill was poisoned by her mother-in-law, insidious Bona Sforza in 1551. What is more, it was in Nesvizh that the twelve golden statues of Saint Apostles were hidden during the Napoleonic war in 1812. All attempts to find them were unsuccessful. So be attentive when wandering around the park – what if you notice something similar to the mysterious entrance to the legendary vault? You’d be surprised to learn that the capital of Belarus has a castle as well. And you’d be even more surprised when you learn its modern function. Pishchalauski Castle, built in the 19th century, is a functioning prison. Does not this remind you of anything? This place is sometimes called the Belarusian Bastille, and
yes, you can call it Minsk Tower (but wouldn’t probably want to go there). Do not like scary places? Ok, then visit the 18-19th centuries Loshitsa estate, considered to be a metropolitan natural oasis. The museum offers guided excursions and holds exhibitions every month. Wed-Sun 10.00 am – 7.00 pm. Admission 8 BYN/3.81 USD/3.40 EUR. While most family estates in Belarus were not spared by time, some were fully revived and now attracting thousands of tourists every year. For
example, the first Belarusian park-museum of interactive history, Sula with a mansion museum of Lensky family. Here you can spend a day full of joy and interesting activities, starting from horse and trap riding finishing with helicopter tour. Bagdanovich’s Stajecki Dvor and Vankovich estate have been turned into multifunctional leisure com-
length is 140 meters. Perhaps one day this palace as well as Manyushka-Vankovich Palace in Smilovichi will be revived. Still, their condition is much better than the one of Tyshkevich family estate standing half ruined in Vialoye.
plexes. A few more places in Minsk region may be pleasing to your eye – Chapsky family palace in Priluki and their estate in Stankovo. The former has been restored and houses the Institute of Plant Protection,the second offers its treasury to be discovered. In the city of Snov, you can find one of the longest buildings in classical style – the estate of the Rdultovskies. Its
Visiting the Palace of the Rumyantsevs and the Paskeviches is a must if you are in Gomel. In the 18th century, Russian Empress Catherine the Great granted Gomel province to Count Peter Rumyantsev and allocated funds from the treasury for the construction of the palace. Later in 1834, the palace was bought by a famous Russian general Paskevich. Nowadays .you can see restored interiors of official halls, and enjoy numerous exhibitions held in the palace. Tue-Fri 11.00 am – 7.00 pm, Sat-Sun 10.00 am – 6.00 pm. Admission 12 BYN/5.72 USD/5.10 EUR. Khalchansky Palace, which today is a branch of the Gomel Regional Museum, once rivaled the Rumyantsev-Paskevich Palace in its greatness. The estate of Gatousky family in Krasny Bereg is perfectly preserved and has
a museum inside. This is the only Belarusian manor with elements of a rare Arabian style called Alhambra, or Moorish. Looks like a fairytale castle! Daily 8.00 am – 5.00 pm. Admission 4 BYN/1.90 USD/1.70 EUR.
the Khadkeviches and the Sapegas built in the 16-17th centuries. It was severely damaged during wars but even ruined, it looks incredibly impressive.
In case you are looking for something more ancient, visit Turov Castle or, more correctly, what is left of it. You can visit an archeological complex located where the castle of the 13th century used to stand.
We have come to the last but not least destination on our list, Vitebsk Region. The castle White Kovel in the village Smalyany was erected in the Renaissance style and it was the only white one on the Belarusian lands. The word “Kovel” in the name of the castle refers to a city in modern Ukraine where the family used to have a seat before purchasing Smalyany in the 17th century. The building was severely damaged during the Great Northern War in 1708, completely destroyed in the middle of the 19th century. Nowadays, only the ruins of one tower and the foundation have been preserved.
Mogilev Region can not boast of an abundance of ancient buildings. Nevertheless, here you can find two wonderful estates, which look perfect and merit a visit. The Bulgaks’ Palace situated in Zhilichi is amazing in its grandeur. A rich landowner started the construction of his family seat in classical style in the early 19th century. Later the palace was frequently referred to as Zhilichy Versaille. It is unbelievable but it has gone through numerous wars that swept through Belarus without a single shell hitting it. Another restored estate of Classicism is in Krichev. These lands were given to Prince Potemkin by Catherine The Great and in the late 18th century, he started the construction of the palace, which today houses a registry office and a museum. The only more or less preserved castle in Mogilev region is Bykhov Castle of
Glazko’s Gothic Palace, the estate in Lyntupy, and the Palace of Tyzenhauz in Postavy. Have a walk around them just to breathe in the epoch and to see wonderful architecture. If you think that the list of mansions and castles of Belarus is over here, you are deeply mistaken. Sometimes, trying to visit all these sites seems like grasping the immensity, but you won’t regret for sure. It’s like an addiction – the more you see, the more you get enchanted and interested in other Belarusian castles and estates waiting for you. l
Belarus MUST VISIT
COOL PLACES TO HANG OUT As warm weather in Belarus is gone with the wind, it is time to put sightseeing off and hit some indoor places. It is not only the capital where you can have fun. Locals from five major Belarusian cities – Homel, Mahiliou, Vitebsk, Grodno and Brest – recommended the coolest spots to hang out.
It is a great idea to start with Homel, the second largest city in Belarus in terms of population. Be sure, there are plenty of spots here which will surprise you. VSE KAK ON LUBIT, an unusual bar which is difficult to find and get in. You’ll see neither a signboard nor even the slightest hint about where it is. The door is always closed so you need to ring a doorbell first. You will be asked a question (“Who are you coming to?”) and only after giving the answer (“To him”) you will be allowed to come in. But according to numerous and most often favourable reviews, it is definitely worth the effort! The bar is downstairs, in a basement. Here you can not only taste original dishes and smoke a flavoured hookah but also have a nice chat with one
of the guests at the communal table. VOZDUH Art Studio A friendly and peaceful atmosphere of this place will certainly help to awaken your creativity. Besides master classes on painting and ceramics, VOZDUH often arranges wonderful craft markets where you can buy unique goods made by local craftspeople. KVARTIRNIK Stop by KVARTIRNIK. It perfectly suits those chasing the best parties and cool concerts. KVARTIRNIK Drop in THE CLER, a tiny (merely 23 sqm) but cozy coffee shop in the downtown. It serves fresh éclairs for all tastes and coffee made in an alternative way with a cold layer at the bottom and a hot one at the top. Moreover, here – in contrast to other coffee houses in Homel – you can find vegan latte and cappuccino on the basis of soya milk.
Let’s go counterclockwise, to the north, where Mahiliou is situated. The city, which in the first half of the 20th century had every
chance to become the capital of Belarus, is now not so much about ‘hustle and bustle’. Anyway, you can enjoy its own pace.
foreign movies till recently. The place is perfect to catch up with friends — or chat with the cute stranger next to you at a bar counter.
MIR, 23 Passing by the Spartak Stadium you’re likely to come across a loft-style coffee shop MIR, 23. You can either grab a snack on the premises and enjoy the atmosphere of freedom created by interior minimalism, or take it away and continue doing the sightseeing.
SEL I S’EL And maybe – just maybe – walk together to a brand-new spot, SEL I S’EL near Glory Square, grab some coffee and, warming your hands with it, watch how the city lights are reflected in the Dniepr.
CHURCHILL CHURCHILL is a classy English-style bar. Guests are greeted by Sir Winston himself, squinting at them from a huge portrait on the wall. BEZ BASHNI It is probably the most sophisticated bar in the city. Not a vestige of provinciality: BBB (as it is used to be called by the locals) can compete with those of Zybitskaya in Minsk. The menu includes more than a hundred cocktails, exclusive nastoykas – hot spirits infused with herbs and berries – and popular snacks. It is a trendy spot which shows the best correlation with all these around-the-corner bars Belarusians could only see in
Ready for the next stopover? Then welcome to incredibly beautiful Vitebsk. Honestly, we are not exaggerating: it is so gorgeous that you won’t have a desire to get distracted from strolling around its streets. Nevertheless, we have got a couple of variants which are likely to fit into your plans in this city. BRAVIS In the very centre of Vitebsk, just a few steps from the Victory square there is BRAVIS, a spacious threelounged bar situated in the historical 19th century building. It is presented as a place where you won’t be bored and, at the same time, can press pause on life, which by the way is easy
to do to the accompaniment of jazz music being played here. UGOL 90 A fine alternative to Bravis, it is a two-storey gastro bar with an eclectic industrial interior, where you take pleasure in everything – the music, the atmosphere, the view out of panoramic windows, but more importantly, the food. SEVEN Vitebsk is often referred to as the cultural capital of Belarus for a reason. You can explore its art scene at SEVEN that somewhat resembles the legendary La Ruche in Paris – a pavilion where artists and writers used to rent their studios at the beginning of the 20th century. However, unlike La Ruche, SEVEN is not a residence but a gallery which always holds great expositions. That’s definitely a place for a creative non-conformist get-together.
When done with the eastern part of the country, it is time to go west. Here is Grodno perhaps, the most Europeanlooking city in Belarus. Its center, which, despite the devastations of World War II, is well preserved, often serves
as a location for shooting historical movies. But it is not only film directors who are attracted to Grodno. Plenty of tourists are flocking to the city to feel its charm. NEMAN’s Rooftop To have a bird’s eye view of Grodno, you should go up to one of the biggest observation decks in Belarus which is on the rooftop of the department store NEMAN. KRYSHA MIRA One can enjoy an open-air cafe, KRYSHA MIRA, which, however, does not work during a cold season. HOUDINI Gastrobar HOUDINI, since the very opening, has been a mecca for Instagram bloggers because of an extremely ‘photogenic’ restroom with floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Nevertheless, not only you can take some photos which will get dozens of likes or order nice food and drinks, here is also a wonderful opportunity to party hard on Fridays and Saturdays. PROSTA KAVA Dream of having a cup of freshly brewed coffee just a stone’s throw away from
a magnificent castle built in the 18th century? Come to PROSTA KAVA - the pioneer of high-quality coffee shop movement in Grodno. Besides hot beverages, the guests are offered home-made chocolates.
JULES VERNE Crave for a substantial meal? Then you will certainly like JULES VERNE – not the famous French author but an excellent (not snobbish though) restaurant in the city centre.
BAZA If you are night bird, hit BAZA, the most popular nightclub in the city. It can boast of good DJs, an excellent sound and light, and hosting famous musicians from time to time.
CHESTNAYA PINTA For something more active and noisy, welcome to CHESTNAYA PINTA pub. Fresh draught beer, live music and a classic British interior with brutal brick walls and wooden furniture attract plenty of visitors. Occasionally, the pub throws theme parties with Irish dances, contests, and prizes.
And the last but, surely, not the least is Brest. GRAN CAFE There had been a plenty of coffee houses in Brest but not a single confectionary until GRAN CAFE opened here. A coffee and pastry shop serving varieties of coffee, including the rare ones, and a huge choice of desserts. SOVETSKAYA STREET Stay on Sovetskaya street till sunset and you will have every chance to meet a lamplighter, a person who lights street gas lamps. This old-time performance is undoubtedly surrounded by subtle romantic vibes.
THE WINTER GARDEN It is so nice all of a sudden to get surrounded by blooming plants on a nasty fall day. Mission impossible? Not at all. THE WINTER GARDEN is at your service. Three climatic zones – tropical, subtropical and desert – along with a pinch of imagination will help you to relax as if you were at a summer resort. So do not waste your time. Hop on the bus or train to any of these fascinating areas and get ready for an unforgettable adventure! l
HIDDEN GEMS IN BELARUS
WE HAVE HAND-PICKED FOR YOU SOME OF THE GREAT PLACES AND ACTIVITIES THAT WE BET YOU CAN NOT AFFORD TO MISS ON YOUR BELARUS TOUR…
A mystic place. According to the tradition, a church once located here sank and a lake with a surprisingly smooth coastline appeared in its place. They say that in the quietness of the night, one can hear the sound of bells over the water. And, the Lavrishevsky monastery that was built side by side, on the left bank of the Neman, suddenly appeared on the right side of the bank of the river. Here, do not forget to enjoy the famous Naliboksky moonshine (home-made vodka)!
At Blue Lakes, a key botanical territory of Belarus, you can organise picnics and swimming and a visit to the Forest Museum, which is located in the forest thicket. After listening to all the legends of Blue Lakes, make sure to wash up in the refreshing Boltiksky spring.
YELNYA (MOOR) One of the largest marshes in Europe, Yelnya has a treasure of flora and fauna. It has hundreds of species of migratory birds and about 7,000 cranes. Surrounded by more than 100 crystal clear lakes, you can walk through the swamp in Yelnya reserve. Put on special footwear – and you are ten feet tall. You will find a wonderful view of the small lake with islands, flight of birds, trails of wild animals where you can even learn to recognize their footprints.
NAROCH Naroch is a blue pearl of Belarus; it is the largest and cleanest lake. It has a sandy beach and white swans which you can see from the helicopter. Additionally, here you can visit the park of rare plants and learn how to dive.
BRASLAV LAKES 74 picturesque lakes, 30 species of fish, more than 10 kinds of hunting and 2 eco-trails – everyone will find something that they could enjoy. Advice: Climb Mayak (Lighthouse) hill and try not to admire the view. We have warned you: it will be difficult.
AUGUSTOW CHANNEL (A UNIQUE WATER SYSTEM) A part of this unique channel is located in Belarus and another part is located in Poland. Crossing the interstate border, kayaking or by boat is considered quite an adventure by the locals. In addition, you do not need a visa for doing this. The Augustow Channel is an perfect place for those who prefer water tourism.
BEREZINSKY BIOSPHERE RESERVE (MOOR) Moors occupy about 60% of Berezinsky Reserve territory. Thousands of tourists come here every year to see the iridescent colors of marshy meadows and how the lady’s slipper orchids blossom. Locals say that here frogs croak in synchronous collaboration. Worth checking out!
ABSOLUTE VILLAGE SINCERETY Enjoying the atmosphere, excitement of fishing and hunting at the Belarusian farmstead is only the first step. Here, you will discover the unique countryside features, plunge into a completely different way of life and see the real Belarus, with its traditions, holidays, cuisine, authentic activities, songs and dances. You will be taught to collect honey in the apiary, to bake bread in the oven and, if you wish, even marry in the best traditions of Belarusian weddings.
BELAZ FACTORY TOUR Have you seen the world’s largest dump truck? BelAZ with a carrying capacity of 450 tons is listed in the Guinness Book of Records, and its smaller brother, 130 tons, is waiting for you! You can not only see it but also take a test drive on the territory of the factory. Drive the truck, get the training and feel the real road feel in 7D mode sitting inside the simulator. The price of such tour is 80 Br ($40). You also can get a special certificate confirming you rode the heavy truck. All visitors will also be able to see how 220-ton trucks with a three-story house height are being produced. More than 36000 people from 27 countries have already visited BelAZ industrial tours for the last two years.
SALT CAVES Take a trip to salt caves and discover how salt is mined and by whom. Or visit a unique speleological clinic, which annually saves hundreds of people from respiratory diseases.
BISON PHOTO SAFARI Photo safari at a wildlife reserves. Some of the Bisons would be so close that you can not only bring a lot of impressions from Belarus, but also have a selfie with a bison.
MINIATURES MUSEUM STRANA MINI Strana Mini Museum (“the mini country” – Russian) houses
Belarus MUST VISIT
interactive miniatures of 18 most notable Belarusian architectural monuments of different styles. The miniatures were created out in such detail that you can examine rifles of the Brest Fortress’ defenders, or admire spectators hurrying to see a performance at the reduced copy of Opera. Open: 8AM–12AM (every day) Entrance fee: 15 BYN/6 EUR/7 USD Souvenir shop: Yes English guide: Yes
BELARUSIAN FOLK MUSEUM OF ARCHITECTURE AND RURAL LIFE Travel out of Minsk for a one day to visit this museum. Learn about the traditions and lifestyle of Belarusians, take part in ancestral pastimes, listen to folk songs and master Belarusian dances there! You can also watch how artisans work, make real Belarusian souvenirs with your own hands, taste national dishes and drinks. The uniqueness of the museum lies in the fact that it is an actual Belarusian village that consists of buildings brought here from all regions of Belarus. The open-air museum in divided into three exhibition sectors, each of them representing a fragment of a typical settlement with characteristic buildings of late 19th early 20th centuries. Bookings can be made at the museum or do it online beforehand. Where: The museum is located a few kilometers from Minsk, between Azjarco and Strochitsy villages. How to reach: By bus
Open: From 10:00 to 17:00 (except Mondays and Tuesdays). Price: 5.5 Br (€3). An English audio guide costs 2 Br ( €1).
CAT MUSEUM If you like cats and miss your pet, it’s worth visiting the Cat Museum. Most cats and kittens living in the museum were homeless in the past, but now they are well-groomed and vaccinated. The museum also has an exposition of art works devoted to cats. Any visitor can draw a picture and then put it on display in the museum. There is also a small Cat Cafe with cat-drinks and cat-sweets there. Where: Intiernacionaĺnaja str., 23. How to reach: By metro to Kastryčnickaja station. Open: Daily from 11:00 till 22:00.
ALIVARIA BREWERY MUSEUM Visiting museums is an entertaining but tedious process. The Alivaria Brewery Museum suggests combining business with pleasure. Excursions take place in the 19th century building that houses the exposition about the oldest Belarusian brewery. In addition to the excursion, you can attend brewing masterclasses and learn how to drink beer correctly. Yes, there is beer tasting! An excursion can be taken in English language (in a group of 10+ people). Where: Kiseleva str., 30. How to reach: By metro to Plošča Pieramohi station and then by bus No18, 26 to Prospekt Masherova stop. Open only after pre-booking: l
Belarus and Spirituality
ne of the aspects of Belarusian traditional folk culture is preservation of pre-Christian beliefs and customs, which remain both in the country and in cities. Holy natural sites (stones, spring-wells, lakes, trees) veneration gained a special momentum; some of them are even recognised by the Christian church. A lot of legends are connected to such holy sites; according to them, the sites help to heal some illnesses. About 500 venerated stones and 200 venerated springs are known across Belarus. Even in the capital city of Minsk there is a stone named “Dzied” (“the Grandfather”), which used to be a main relic of the Minsk pagan temple. Nowadays, “Dzied” is situated at the Minsk Museum of Stones, and people still come there to worship it and leave their offerings. The offerings usually are fruit, candies, cookies, flowers, etc. One can still notice coins from various countries of the world near popular pilgrimage sites. The Belarusians feel reverence for nature, believe in spirits of forest (Lesavik), rivers and lakes (Vadzianik), fields (Paliavik). Even nowadays, people continue to celebrate the archaic rite “Rusalle” or “Rusalka’s seeing-off” as a tribute to the rusalka (nixie), a spirit of fertility living in the water, a forest or a field. Likewise, people still believe that every house is dwelled by a patron spirit, which should be treated with respect.
Belarusian mythology is based on a common Indo-European tradition. There are many correlations with cultures of other Indo-European family peoples. For example, deities of Belarusian myths resemble the Rigvedic gods. Like: Piarun – Parjanya, Zaria – Ushas, Maci Ziamlia – Prithvi Mata, Agon – Agni, Boh – Bhaga. Main holidays of the traditional calendar mark the main seasons of the year and coincide with the days of solstice and equinox: Kaliady (winter), Vialikdzen (spring), Kupalle (summer), Bahach (autumn). Holidays of ancestor veneration are widely spread among Belarusians, Radunica (national holiday) in spring and Dziady in autumn are most well-known among them. Winter ceremony “Kaliady Czars” is even included into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Belarusians respect elements of any religion due to the fact that spirituality in spite of the religious self-identification is deeply embedded into the national mindset. It is also applicable to the Indian tradition: it is a significant example that the classes of the Indian Cultural Center in Minsk focused not only on Indian culture but also on the spiritual aspects of the Indian lifestyle that are very popular among Belarusians. l
BELARUS: LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES
Personal views expressed by Manish Kumar, CII
MSMEs of Belarus keen to work with Indians in Belarus that SME base is very strong companies on ian Ind h is keen to work wit high security and e ens def in at joint venture form ortunities opp re are manufacturing domain. The ts under jec pro ch high-te for joint development of twin and tes titu ins ate the government and priv of specific centers cluster development for chain, environment ck blo as h suc excellence sides work, Belarus green technology etc. Be go to any extent to o has amazing people wh e. I urge Indians hom at you l help you and fee ir travel plans. It is to must put Minsk on the , heritage and a country with a rich culture l e. architecture and cuisin â€“Ashutosh Agarwal,
ited Systems India Private Lim Executive Director, Eirene
What is your experience of working with Belarus? Belarus as a country has surprised me in a very positive way. When I started working with the Embassy of Belarus in Delhi in March 2017, I thought Belarus as a country still embodied in communist past. But this is not true. I found Belarus a great friend of India deeply rooted in its history but at the same time ready to cooperate with Indiaâ€™s private sector businesses. Business practices are Indianinvestor friendly. The country has great infrastructure. I have made some great freindships which I hope to continue for life time. I see that Indian business is deeply committed to promote the economic cooperation between India and Belarus. As it is evident from its multifarious engagements with the country. We see Belarus as one of the most important transit hubs for EAEU Market for Indian companies. It encompasses great strategic advantage in terms of connectivity to EU market and its custom free access to EAEU market. Unfortunately, Indian private sector has not been able to fully leverage the unique advantages of Belarus and its huge potential. We have facilitated and supported the range of independent visits of the delegation member companies to Belarus in the focus sectors of cooperation: medical tourism and healthcare in general, education and skill development, ayurvedic science, technology-oriented industries and defence, huge industries (including agro
machinery and quarry lorry equipment), pharmaceutical sector, textiles, services and IT-sector. How do you assess the business environment of the country? Belarus occupies 37th position in the World bank ranking in Ease of Doing business. This says a lot about its business environment, which is one of the best among CIS countries. Government has eased lot of regulatory and administrative barriers by introducing reforms. After lifting of sanctions in 2016, Belarus is engaged with European institutions like specially in the areas of SME support and regional development. Well established infrastructure, connectivity with European Union and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) which Belarus is a part of make it an ideal country to do business. In fact, Belarus was one of the most advanced republics during the Soviet Era however things have changed post 1990s. But in last few years Belarus has demonstrated its intent to be leader in the region once again. It had taken number of reforms and established Free Economic Zones, High-Tech Park and other Special Zones to promote new age businesses. Belarus has very welldeveloped heavy industry sectors which include agricultural and mining equipment, electrical equipment and household appliances radio electronics chemicals textiles. Some of the Belarusian brands like Minsk Tractor Works, BELAZ are well respected and command dominant position in the market.
In addition, Belarus has the high levels of technical education and its one of the exporters of IT services to the world. For example, IT developers of Belarus have developed very advance products in gaming and mobile technologies such as Game Stream specially war games, Apalon, Viber, Vizor etc which has major use base of more 1 billion people in over 150 countries. I think Belarus is one of the promising countries in high end IT services which I would say need to be explored by Indian IT sectors in a big way. Hi-Tech Park in Minsk offers tax concessions and special opportunities to companies interested develop business in IT and related areas. The successful development of mobile and gaming segments has played a big role in uplifting the industry. I see immense potential on collaboration between the IT industries of both the countries. Leveraging each other technological advancements will be symbiotic for both Belarus and India. How can you describe the technological and human potential of Belarus? During the Soviet Era, Belarus was the epicenter for technological research and development. 60 per cent of the USSR’s computers were designed by Belarusian engineers. Today the IT industry plays a consequential role in the growth of Belarusian Economy. The successful development of mobile and gaming segments has played a big role in uplifting the industry. I see immense potential on collaboration between the IT industries of both the countries. Leveraging each other technological advancements will be symbiotic for both Belarus and India. In terms of human potential – there is a dire need of people – to people connectivity and ties. The gap in this area could be bridged by enabling student exchange programme for university level students, long term visa business visas for both the nationals or even granting tourist visa on arrival on each side. I was informed that there are lots of Indian students go to Belarus for medical education but this flow of student from India to Belarus must be expanded to other areas and discipline of education. What are the most developed industries and directions of cooperation? What are the most promising areas? In my opinion, the chemical and petrochemical industry are the most
developed industries in Belarus. Direction of cooperation - co-operation in the field of mining, education, science & technology and heavy machinery and people – to – people ties are lucrative for both India and Belarus. Giving boost to raw material in textile sector will also be highly crucial. In addition, Defence & Security ties need to be enhanced between India and Belarus. Cooperation in the areas of new technologies, fintech and regtech are other areas where India and Belarus can benefit each other. Smart Cities, Skill India and Make in India are some of the areas where Belarusian companies can play in big role where Belarusian technologies and products can be used to develop joint venture projects. Indian IT sector has offered partnership for collaboration in the areas of Fintech and Reg-tech, where IT companies can support Belarus in the development of the IT infrastructure for their financial sector. Trilateral partnership is another area where Belarus and India can cooperate and expand their footprint in Africa and CIS countries. For example, many of the products with Belarusian technology especially from Defense and Heavy Equipment sector can be manufactured in India and provided to other market at very competitive rate. Pharma is another sector where Indian Pharma companies can leverage the strategic location of Belarus to manufacture pharma products and cater to the demand of nearby countries. This is specially an interesting proposition when Russia which is one of the biggest markets of Indian Pharma which has introduced local manufacturing as one of criteria under
Pharma 2020 policy. How do you assess the governmental support accessible for the Indian businesses? What is the investment environment? Government of Belarus has identified to propose the Investment cluster under the Special Economic Zone framework for Indian companies. Regions of Belarus such as Vitebsk, Gomel and Orsha-Bolbasovo present amazing opportunities to Indian companies to set up their businesses and use Belarus as strategic hub for EU and Eurasian Market in chosen areas of business. High-tech Park in Minsk offers multiple benefits to its residents. Government of Belarus is committed to protect long term foreign investment. There are few Indian companies have already set up their pharmaceutical plants and they are looking forward to leverage the business environment of Belarus. Due to low wages and high quality of human capital especially in the IT sector make Belarus quite interesting investment destinations for Indian IT sector. Ayurveda and Health sectors offer opportunities for Indian health and Ayurveda companies since Ayurvedic and Health resorts can be very interesting propositions too. Education is another sector which is very attractive for Indian private sector players due to excellent infrastructure in available in the country. In recent years lots of private sector player from India have opened their satellite campuses or acquired infrastructure. This model can be replicated in Belarus which has very high quality of technical education. l
BELARUS RIGHTLY CALLED ‘THE ASSEMBLY LINE OF RUSSIA’ I, Naveen Kohli, an Indian national, residing in Belarus since 1992. At that time, Belarus was a new state, rightly engaged in establishing itself both internally and internationally. Since that time, India was not new to Belarus, the erstwhile USSR and India enjoyed excellent relations, I found easy acceptance not only in my small business endeavours but socially and culturally also. I found Belarusian people friendly and hospitable. The business climate was good and encouraging. Indian goods and services were acceptable. I found good Belarusian partners and associates. The authorities were all geared up to help and facilitate. Frankly, I did not look back. It is almost 27 years, I am here earning my livelihood with
dignity and respect and adding my little bit to the development and progress of this beautiful country, my host and home. With the cooperation and collaboration of my Belarusian and Indian business counterparts, I have progressed in this country in every respect. It is a matter of satisfaction that the Belarus has given a lot to me and my family and we shall remain indebted throughout my life. During the span of the last 27 year, I have seen that Belarus has progressed and developed in multifold. Now I can say with confidence that Belarus is a land of opportunities and it is obvious now that this country can be described the following way: Gateway to Europe, political and economic stability, peaceful country pollution free country, lot of scope for tourism, friendly relations with the international community, business friendly policies, conducive investment taxation regime, customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan,
developed infrastructure, highly skilled manpower, excellent educational facilities, social and cultural harmony with effective law and order, friendly and open outlook, multicultural and multiethnic societies. Belarus was rightly called the “Assembly line of the USSR”. It has done marvelously well after its independence, particularly under the able and dynamic leadership of Honorable President H.E, Mr. Alexander Lukashenka. It is a matter of satisfaction that bilateral relations between India and Belarus are traditionally friendly and cooperative. And there is an ample scope and opportunities to further strengthen our economic and cultural cooperation to mutual advantage. I am confident that the businesses communities will take due note of it and do their best in exploring, identifying and exploiting these opportunities. l Naveen Kohli, Minsk, Nagesh
To Belarus: Best Place Start Business BS. I loved the place and
to pursue MB came to Belarus in 2007 rtup in 2013. e and started a small sta hom my it decided to make rm wa towards India and they are very Belarussian people love d in many ate ticip par Indian goods. We Indians. I started selling our first LLC ned ope we 6, 201 In s. aru exhibitions all over the Bel Indian goods aged in direct import of company. Now we are eng t importers of ges big the ong am , we are and we can proudly say ting Indian ilita fac rted s. In 2018, I sta Indian cosmetics in Belaru ia! Ind in ss ine Bus n ssia Belaru Business in Belarus and tinations to des t bes the is among one of I must say that Belarus re you can get volume of investment. He start the business with any sses. a broad variety of busine are here in the ation of the country. We loc cal phi gra geo the I love ng business rati ope y eas which makes , Poland, center of the East Europe ssia ghboring countries like Ru East and to from Belarus to all the nei the to h bot – re e and many mo Lithuania, Latvia, Ukrain the West. l arusian Student Entrepreneur and Ex-Bel Neelam Suresh Dame,
BEING HERE WAS THE BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE hen I came first time in 2011, I found Belarus the best country in the world and immediately decided to settle here. There are not so many Indians but there are so many opportunities that the Indians must know. With this aim, we founded the Union of trade and industry promotion organizations. We are non-profit organization. Our mission is to promote trade and industry, bringing investors and provide them all the support in their businesses. We support investors from end to end – even in daily challenges. Our motto is to give right information to the rest of the world about this beautiful country. This country is very rich in culture, natural beauty and business opportunities. When I came first time, I felt peace in the air. Very nice people – always welcoming and friendly with a great respect to India and to the Indian culture. They have the same respect for all foreigners. I feel here no resistance or no hate – this made me feel that I must live here and do something. I want world to know this hidden paradise – paradise not only for travels and relaxation but also a great place for business. You will find no crime and no corruption in Belarus. My personal experience whenever I visited any government department: very nice and friendly officers who are very happy to help. Bribery is simply non-existence. If your documents are right and you have right intentions, you will get immediate support, be it police department or immigration, in hospitals, in ministries or land registration offices. No matter where you go, you will find good people. You can get respect and recognition here. I got honour to represent the “Vitebsk” Free Economic Zone as an “International informational Attorney”. It was a pleasure to work with this team – for investors it is like a family. You will feel you are dealing with professional global team that stay with investors to face any challenge and they listen to you anytime – even after office time. After I got the opportunity to represent the “Mogilev” Free economic Zone as an “International informational Attorney”. I am trying my best to introduce opportunities in Mogilev free zone for Indian investors. We always receive a great support from the Embassy of Republic of Belarus in India for our official work. Belarusian diplomats are smart and professional but very easy-going and friendly, they will sure support you for the real business. Belarus can propose its best infrastructure for business and industry. It is really well-developed: no problems of electricity and water, good roads and railway communication system as well as skilled workforce. I believe that Belarus has same opportunity what was there 40 years back in the Middle East. In my opinion Belarus is the “Future Dubai of the Eastern Europe”. Belarus is a country of the good government and good governance. Not only in big city but if are ready to you go to a small town or a village you will find the same systematic approach to everything. I believe it was my best decision in life to come to Belarus and start living and working here. Now I feel this is my own place – my own people, Belarusian brothers and sisters. In my next life, I wish to be born in Belarus. l
Very Progressive And Transparent Business Environment How many times have you visited Belarus? What wa s the very first experience and how it changed? I have visited Belarus two times. My first visit during February 2019 was a country familiar ization visit and the second visit during May 2019 was a slig htly more focused, sector specific visit to understand busine ss potentials in the IT sec tor. Although I had only 3 wo rking days at my disposal during the first visit, I managed to visit 3 important Free Economic Zones – in Mogilev, Gome l and Vitebsk to get an ove rview of the business and investme nt environment and get a feel of the country and the people of Belarus. The positive impressions that I carried back from my visit were only reinforced first during my second and slig htly more extended visit to Bel arus during which I had mo re in-depth interactions with various companies and governmental agencies and also had the opportu nity of attending the Internation al Economic Forum in Vite bsk. What can be found and explored in Belarus bus iness wise? Though I was more confine d to information technolog y, I believe there is an ample scope in manufacturing, heavy machinery and equipment , defense, pharma and agr i-food sectors. Tourism and edu cation sectors also need to be exploited. What business opportuniti es did you find? Have you found enough of support officia lly and what is the level of the business and corporate culture? So far, our emphasis has been on IT, we have identifi ed four Belarusian IT Comp anies with expertise in blo ck chain, artificial intelligence, IoT and crypto space for par tnering. In the due course of time, we intend to finalize the collaboration mechanism for joint execution of larg e IT projects in India, Japan and other global locations. The level of support from the Embassy of the Repub lic of Belarus in New Delhi, Belarus Chamber of Comm erce – Gomel Branch – has exe mplary, apart from the pro fessional support extended by the National Agency of Invest ment and Privatization, Belarus Hig h Tech Park & Belarus Blo ck chain Association etc. I found the business env ironment very progressiv e, transparent & investor frie ndly. l
Jitendra Bhatia, Stanwood Consult
Priyanshu Jha, Representative of FEZ Vitebsk and Mogilev
BELARUS - HOME AWAY FROM HOME
visited Minsk first time in 1992. Those were special times - It was then, I met my wife. Belarus is a small and beautiful country and Minsk is our home. Initially, it was difficult for me to understand people and work, as I did not know Russian language. But people around me did everything to make me feel comfortable and assimilate. Special thanks to my Mother in Law, who was then a teacher of English and to my wife, who helped me immensely. Life can be a little tricky when you have intercultural marriage. It took us some time to understand each otherâ€™s culture, language and food habits. Today we both love Indian and Belarussian culture, food and celebrate each otherâ€™s festivals. People in Belarus are open-minded, tolerant, friendly & very helpful in nature. So when I started business, I received total support from my customers and business partner. Times have changed. Today, there is a vibrant Indian community in Minsk. Many Belarussians have visited India and have better knowledge of what India can offer. Thanks to the close ties between Indian and Belarussian governments. Yoga, Goa and Indian-cuisine is well known to locals. In the last 26 years of my experience, business between the two nations have grown. Today, Belarus is a major supplier of fertilizers, defence equipment, heavy machinery technology and many other items and services to India. Traditionally, India has been a supplier to Belarus with tea, coffee, spices, textiles etc. Many Indian medicines are household names in Belarus. Cooperation are expanding to Software-ICT and other areas. In the last two and a half decades I have traded in Indian food products, textiles, chemical and allied products. My wife is a big fan
of Indian textiles and handicrafts, she runs an Interior design studio in Minsk & many of her creations are inspired by Indian patterns and textile designs. We are now exploring non-traditional areas of cooperation between the two countries and I must emphasize that Embassies of both India and Belarus have been very helpful and informative. Recent flexibility of visa rules have helped people to travel and explore each other’s countries and have opened new areas of businesses, such as recently Belarus have been visited by Bollywood to explore possibility of shooting Indian movies. Tourism is another industry which is growing in Belarus. It is not unusual to meet Indian tourists enjoying Belarussian hospitality especially during mild summer months. Though Minsk has small population of Indians who live and work permanently. But we have a vibrant social club called “Indian Society in Belarus” which in association with other groups, shares information on business and social life. I have been an active member of this club. Belarussian capital has fantastic infrastructure for sports. Minsk has some of the best cycling lanes in the world. Recently we have started playing cricket in summers, which has attracted many locals as spectators. Minsk is also home to many foreigners from Europe, Asia, Middle East, thanks to many Expat clubs, one could find platforms to meet and interact people. To me, Minsk is a home away from home. It is one of the cleanest cities in the world. It is safe and racism is practically non-existent. It has a vibrant social life and a conducive environment which supports small and medium size businesses. I would like to congratulate Belarus with the Anniversary Independence Day and am lucky to be a part of this country. l Puneet Shrivastava, Velour Textile Room
Belarus – a country that always amazes me!
have been travelling to Belarus with work related projects for the past ten years. I began exp loring Belarus to import the late st technology to India for the Indi an mining sector. In spite of the aftermath after the Soviet Union dissolution in early nineties, Belarus was one of the very few countries which saw through the tough times while preserving its massive industria l base in the form of major world ente rprises and brands such as BEL AZ (dumpers), MAZ (tracks), MTZ (tractors), MPZ (bearing and spare parts) and several others. In the year 2010, our compan y was appointed as India Dist ributors of prestigious BELAZ – a 70 yea r old enterprise which makes the largest heavy duty mining dum p trucks in the world. This ope ned up whole new vistas of busines s opportunities for us. I discove red how well developed Belarus is in the areas of manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture, trad e and commercial activities. I often travel to Belarus and one can see considerable progress being made all around with new hotels, world class sports aren as, modern office complexes in Min sk. The green cover of the country is breath taking with lush gree n forests and well-manicured pad dy fields and farms. Belarus has more than 10,000 lakes while many of them have resorts and san atoriums for the country’s population to enjoy and rejuvenate themselv es. It was pleasant surprise for me to know that Belarus is among top 5 countries in export of agricult ure, dairy and meat products. The cuisine is delicious and rich with vast variety of local Belarusian and European dish es. The most important factor in the progress of the country is its people. I found them full of war mth, hospitable and always eager to explain about their nation’s traditions and its historical past to the visit ors. Based on my experience I found Belarusians as very intelligent, hard-working and pleasant peo ple to work and interact with. Belarus is an amazing country and a must visit for once in a life time experience! l
Samar Shakil, Belaz-Ernika
he Belarusians are very well aware of the importance of ecology. Belarus is a very clean and green country though in the past the nature and the population of Belarus went through a tragedy that happened in the very end of the Soviet Era. The Chernobyl disaster occurred on 26 April, 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in Ukraine. It is considered the most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in history and one of the world’s gravest maninduced disasters. The remains of the station reactor building were enclosed in the sarcophagus, which prevents radioactive contamination from spreading. A 30-kilometre evacuation zone was established (the so-called Exclusion zone), and more than 115 000 people had to abandon their homes. In popular culture, those events were depicted in Svetlana Alexievich’s (the first Belarusian writer who won the Nobel Prize) book Chernobyl Prayer and HBO miniseries Chernobyl . Although the disaster took place in Ukraine, the catastrophe’s aftermath affected many European countries, with Belarus receiving the largest portion of radioactive contamination – but for a very limited territory. A half of the Exclusion zone fell within Belarusian borders. It was decided that the territory influenced should have a special status – the Polesie Radioecological Reserve was established on the Belarusian part of the Exclusion zone. Today its area is 2100 km2. It’s a place with unique nature, which exists with minimized human intervention. Due to the high level of radionuclide contamination, that area will never be exploited but can be visited with the professional guides. The concept of the reserve is unique: it preserves the biological diversity of the Belarusian Polesie, alongside researching the impact the radiation made upon it. While the Ukrainian part of the Exclusion zone has been serving both industrial (the last remaining reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was shut down in December, 2000) and tourist purposes (with the growing number of tourists, it’s even possible to stay in a hotel within the Exclusion zone), in the Belarusian part a focus on scientific research and safekeeping was made. Since 2018, it has become possible to visit the reserve (it has been closed for ordinary visitors for 30 years) and its most interesting abandoned sites: a primary school, a kolkhoz (an old farm house), a cultural center, a fire station, as well as marooned barges and Solnechny, the so-called “Belarusian Pripyat”. One can pay a visit for one or two days. You will learn about the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster for Belarus, the flora and fauna of the reserve, and will walk through abandoned villages, where time stopped in 1986, after the evacuation. Tours take place on safe routes. During an excursion, an average radiation dose received by a visitor does not exceed a dose received during a two-hour flight by plane. However, special authorization permits are still obligatory for visitors, and children are banned from entering the reserve. l
A LAND-LINKED COUNTRY
es, you hear us right, despite being land-locked, people call Belarus a land-linked country. Because it is a land which has been an ancient contact point for the cultures to interact and mingle since ages… Since the ancient times, Belarus has been at a crossroad of all the migration flows of Europe – Belarus is a historically transit, hub-alike destination. To a certain extent, this can be explained geographically: the so-called geographical center of Europe is literally situated in Belarus. But there is also a cultural-civilizational explanation: Belarusian land is a dividing line between the Baltic sea and the Black sea basins. Some rivers flow from north-west, some – from south-east. Being present at this territory had the meaning of connecting and choosing the trade routes – from the great silk way to the “from the varangians to the greeks” that ran through Belarusian lands, connecting north and south europe and serving as a link between European and Asian markets. For ages, Belarus has been a land where cultures interacted. That is an ancient contact point of the baltic and slavic tribes, pagans and christians, Byzantine orthodox traditions and roman catholic traditions. Moreover, due to the status of the trade and manufacturing hub - Judaism and Islam are traditional religions too: almost all the population of Belarusian towns and cities was Jewish and there were quite a numerous city population of Tatars and other Muslim nations. These communities interacted peacefully – at the background of the extremely strong Belarusian local aristocracy traditions (“shlyahta”). Belarus is often described as a place where east meets west. In Belarusian culture, east and west are organically blending in. So, even being a land-locked country, Belarus is a historically globalised territory that keeps producing an open culture. That is why, people say that Belarus is “not the land-locked but landlinked country”. Belarus, being a transit hub, nowadays keeps bridging the gaps between Russia and West European countries, between Ukraine and Baltic countries and these days– between Russia and Ukraine. From the north to the south, Belarus is an important system of traffic arteries, strengthening the country economically and politically. A part of transcontinental railroad, that crosses the whole Eurasia from the Pacific to the Atlantic, also lays in Belarus. And it is important to understand that Belarusians due to patience, tolerance and intelligence used to be the linkage between the representatives of the different cultures. It creates a very unique landscape of tolerance domestically – being a uninational country, Belarus is ready to receive guests of different nations and religions and help them settling peacefully as respected members of the Belarusian community. l
RECREATIONAL TRIP FAMILY TRIP elarus is classified as one of the safest, cleanest and the most secure countries of the world. Belarus is hospitable to every race, tolerant and respectful towards all religions, languages and people of other nationalities. Belarus is much more affordable in comparison with the rest of Europe, still providing highquality and luxurious services. If you want to visit the heart of Europe, discover places where the most important historical events took place, and even take part in the reconstruction of famous battles, enjoy the most unexploited parts of the nature, hunt in a royal forest reserve or fish in one of thousands of glacial lakes, you should come to Belarus. There one can enjoy nightingale trills after noisy and messy urban days. Breathe the pure air deeply; no wonder Belarusian swamps are called “the lungs of Europe”. Walk barefoot on green grass after redhot asphalt. Belarus is a perfect vacation place to forget about work and recharge your batteries for future achievements. What you can find is a mixture of architecture from the Middle Ages and the recent high-tech infrastructure with sites still standing created in the Stalinist Empire style, as well as the mixture of East and West. Many claim to smell gunpowder in the back streets of forts and hear piano sounds from the halls of the palaces and park ensembles. Tourists say that every Belarusian city has its own soul and atmosphere that are formed by small but very important details. Royal Hrodna, Vitsebsk, known as the cultural capital of Belarus, the heroic city of Brest, majestic Homel, quiet Mahiliow – this is just a small list of cities that we suggest to you for your visit to Belarus. Castles of Belarus are not homes to princesses anymore. Nowadays it is history that lives in them. According to legends, ghosts can be found roaming through these castles. But be careful for which one you are looking for, you never know if they are happy to have guests or not! The most popular castles in Belarus are: Mir Castle, Niasvizh Castle, Kosava castle, Hrodna Old Castle, Hrodna New Castle, Kreva Castle, Halshany castle, Liubchya Castle and Lida Castle. But there used to be more than 100 castles in Belarus. Four Belarusian sites have been already included into the UNESCO World Heritage List. These are: Belavezhskaja Pushcha National Park (1992), Mir Castle Complex (2000), Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Niasvizh (2005), Struve Geodetic Arc (2005). The Belavezhskaja Pushcha National Park (a natural heritage object), a unique European forest reserve protected since the 14th century, was the first one to enter the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Mir Castle, which was built at the beginning of the 16th century, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The successful blend of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture makes Mir one of Europe’s most impressive castles. Two more sites were inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. They include the palace in Niasvizh and the Struve Geodetic Arc points. For centuries the Niasvizh Palace used to be the residence of the Radziwills, one of the richest dynasties in Europe. Today the National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve Niasvizh, a wonderful restored castle, is a landmark of Belarus. The Struve Arc, a world famous geodetic construction, is a chain of 265 points in 10 countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. According to the historical data, there were 30 geodesic points in Belarus, but near 20 survived. Five of them, with special plaques, have been inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. l
he medicine reform in Belarus has fostered the raise of its competitive ability and opened prospects for the recreational tourism development. The country has invested in leading medical centers modernization, in hi-tech medical aid development, in updated equipment procurement. Recently, all the elements of the healthcare system have been modernised. Eighteen republican applied research centers have been opened. Belarusian medicine keeps pace with time! The quality of medical services is equal to the European one, while the prices for foreigners are among the lowest in Europe. Another component of the Belarusian medicine’s success at health tourism is the doctors’ high professional level. Oncology, oncohematology, traumatology, ophthalmology, obstetrics and gynecology, dentistry, neurosurgery, cardiology, cardiac surgery, speleotherapy, medical rehabilitation: the list of practical medicine specialties for export is hardly completed. Mineral springs, therapeutic mud fields, salt mines and excellent conditions for climate, the healing power of nature, multiplied by highly qualified doctors – all that is a great reason to take care of your health and take an opportunity of visiting Belarusian health Salted Cave Spa resorts. If a measured life in a health resort is not for you, just take an active rest at the touristic and recreational complex. Bicycle tours, horse riding, walking and water tours – and you will have no time for being bored. For those who like “all-inclusive”, want to relax, get any kind of treatment and improve health, we suggest vacations at the best resorts of Belarus. The culture of sanatoriumand-spa treatment has been preserved in Belarus since the Soviet times. Health resorts in Belarus have retained their emphasis on effective medical treatment and disease prevention. There are 306 certified health resorts ranged from economy to luxury class (“Alpha Radon”, “Plissa”, “Borovoye”, “Priozyorny”, “Ozyorny”, “Yunost”, “Vesta”, “Mashinostroitel”, “Ruzhansky”, etc.). When you need to break free of the incredible rhythm of the modern life and stay in calmness and silence, you definitely need a day in SPA. The health and beauty starts from your body and reflects in your thoughts, relationships, your ambience, habits, filling every single moment of your life with harmony and pure happiness. All that and more can be achieved at one of the comfortable, stylish and professional SPA-centers. For instance, there are SPA centers almost in every hotel in Minsk (Marriott, Hilton, Renaissance, President, Victoria, Belarus, Crowne Plaza). l
The materials used in this magazine were provided by the Republican Union of Tourism Industry (Belarusian Touristic Union) and the National...
Published on Jul 3, 2019
The materials used in this magazine were provided by the Republican Union of Tourism Industry (Belarusian Touristic Union) and the National...