Belarus (the Republic of Belarus, Belorussia) is an Eastern European country with land borders with such countries as Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. In terms of tourism, Belarus is considered a tidbit for cultural treasure hunters, nature lovers dreaming of walks in the fabulous Polesie, and for food bloggers looking for new flavors where not everyone would guess to do so. And if you desperately wanted a European flavor, the “country of cornflowers and white storks” and then in no way concede the western neighbors. Medieval castles with ghosts and dark biographies of their owners, the ruins of once impregnable bastions, Catholic churches and Orthodox churches – even in the most medieval town of Belarus there is at least one building, whose story deserves at least a novel, if not a real romantic saga.
Save money on a trip to Belarus!
The capital of Belarus – Minsk – has the status of an independent administrative unit. The city itself, as well as the region, the center of which it is, are located in the heart of the country and from a transport point of view are considered the most convenient tourist routes. The Belarusian capital is also not short of sights. There are ethno villages with their schools of crafts and museums of various kinds, from modest exhibitions like “The Space of Chaim Sutin” in Smilovichi to museum ensembles in the style of the National Museum-Reserve “Nesvizh”. The adherents of active lifestyle in Minsk will also find a place to relax: the majority of skiing and sports and tourist centers are located in the metropolitan area.
Grodno region, the westernmost region of the country, has been and remains the absolute champion in the number of historical monuments per capita. The main treasures of this part of the country are ancient castles and palaces, most of which were inherited from the legendary princes Radziwill. Besides there are more than a dozen of noble family estates, like the Umeiskie Palace and the Svyatopolk-Chetvertinskie estate. Besides, we should not forget about the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, which included not only the Grodno Region, but also the territories of neighboring Brest Region.
The Gomel region and the Vitebsk region are completely free for ecotourists. Both regions are famous as the places where the nature is undisturbed by human interference. If you want to rest near blue lakes, set a course for Vitebsk and if you are nostalgic about Polesie, take a trip to Gomel region. Fans of wandering around atmospheric historical sites and listening to emotional monologues of museum guides should also stay in Vitebsk region. It certainly does not promise any Radziwill family estates, but their absence is easily compensated by the excursion to Polotsk – the oldest city of the country, which gave the start to Belarus’ independence.
Another “lure” of Belarus is military tourism. Places of bloody battles, partisan camps, mournful memorials on the foundations of concentration camps – the Belarusians not only honor their tragic past, but also willingly share it with all those interested. To see the history of the Great Patriotic War as Belarus saw it in 1941, go to Brest (5th fort of Brest Fortress), Minsk (memorial complex “Yama”, remains of pillboxes in Myadel region, memorial at the place of former camp “Trostenets”) and Gomel (Ozarichsk death zone).
Cities of Belarus
Best time to go
Most of the Belarusian territories are under the influence of a temperate continental climate, and only in the western part of the country the Atlantic “weather” does. As a result, Grodno and Brest regions combine features of both continental and maritime climatic types. Winters in Belarus are cold – down to -4.5 ° C, although in January, thermometers of the northeastern regions may show up to -8 ° C. Average temperature of summer months is +17. +19 °С.
The maximum influx of tourists and vacationers in Belarus is in the period from May to August – the time of yeast-like growing prices for accommodation and national restaurant meals. By September, drizzling rains and the first frosts arrive in the country, driving the last stranded foreigners out of Belarus. The second wave of tourist activity hits the country closer to Christmas and New Year holidays. Most visitors in this period are fans of skiing and snowboarding, who can’t wait to explore the slopes of local ski centers.
History of Belarus
The first settlers began to exploit the Belarusian territories in the late Paleolithic era, but the foundations of statehood were laid here only in the IX century AD. In the 11th century the Belarusian principalities tried to get out from under the influence of Kiev, which was the main owner of those lands at that time. But since the “mother of Russian cities” was in no hurry to part with its lands, only the Principality of Polotsk tried to achieve independence.
In the XIII century a part of Belarusian territories became a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which tired of the Livonian Order’s claims, in the XVI century signed a union with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was thanks to this union that for the next two hundred years Polish traditions were actively imposed in the country. In the 18th century the Rzeczpospolita was divided among Russia, Austria and Prussia. Thus, a new stage of Belarus’ development as part of the Russian Empire began.
Minsk after German bombing on June 24, 1941
The 19th century was the time of transformation and birth of the national movement. And although Poland still tried to defend its own interests through uprisings, its influence on Belarus gradually faded away. With the outbreak of World War I, a new outlaw claimed the Belarusian territories. First the north-west of the country was occupied by Germany. After the October Revolution the Poles again tried to return here. The USSR won in the end, and Belarus became part of it in 1922.
The most heroic and difficult period awaited the country during the Great Patriotic War. Belarus took the first blow from the German army and became an occupation zone for several years. In 1986, the locals had to endure another tragedy. As a result of the Chernobyl disaster, part of the territory became contaminated with radioactive waste and uninhabitable. Belarusians celebrated their independence in 1991, and in 1994 A. G. Lukashenko became the permanent president of the country.
Population and language
About 9.5 million people live in Belarus, of which almost 2 million are Minsk residents. The second biggest city of the country after the capital is Gomel: 536 thousand residents. The official languages in the Republic of Belarus are Belarusian, also known as “Belarussian Mova,” and Russian. Most often one hears a conversation in the great powerful language in Minsk and other major cities, but the farther to the provinces, the more conversations in the Mova and Trasianka (a hybrid of Russian and Belarusian dialects).
The attitude of Belarusians to tourists is generally benevolent. However, in recent years, more and more residents are complaining about the unwarranted snobbery of travelers from Russia. Accordingly, if you do not want to reinforce the stereotype of the Russian bum in the minds of local residents, behave correctly and politely. One more thing: Belarusians don’t like it when their country is called in the Soviet manner – “Belorussia. Keep it in mind and change the usual word for a more politically correct one – “Belarus”.
Sovetskaya Street in Brest Sovetskaya Street in Grodno
Attractions in Belarus
Belarus is a country where you have to be constantly “torn” between man-made attractions and protected natural areas. Both are not inferior to each other in scale and make an equally unforgettable impression on all who dare to tour the Republic.
Castles, historical monuments and memorial complexes
The castles of Belarus are not like Versailles, which is exquisite, but totally useless from the defensive point of view. Local manors are first of all military bastions, secondly – food and arms caches, and only thirdly – residence of the ruling family and the cultural center of the principality. The most convenient in terms of proximity to the capital is the Nesvizh Castle, the architectural heritage of the unforgettable Radziwills and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The history of the park and palace complex, to put it bluntly, is not a pretty one: from time to time Nesvizh was set on fire, then restored, so as not to leave any stone on the fortification again. Another “Juneskovite” is situated in the Grodno Region. The Mir Castle, also called the Mir Castle and Park Complex, is one of the most mysterious constructions of the 16th century. If you didn’t manage to “catch” the Black Maid of Nesvizh whose spirit inhabits the eponymous castle at home, you can try to get acquainted with the White Maid or, as local guides affectionately call her, – Sonechka.
Nesvizh Castle Mir Castle
Krev and Golsha castles, as well as the palace in Ruzhany were a little less lucky than Nesvizh and Mir in the sense that the Belarusian authorities for some reason did not have a desire to restore them. Nevertheless, there is a sense to take a look at these majestic ruins – for the number of ancient legends and mystical stories they are not inferior to their more fortunate counterparts. Golshan Castle, apart from the “ancient legends”, can also delight you with its annual festival and the most powerful energy. If you are interested in knights’ culture and medieval festivals, you may want to visit the Lidsky castle. And the most sophisticated aesthetes will enjoy a tour to Kossovsky castle. It is certainly not the most ancient of buildings, but it has a very interesting biography and is absolutely atypical for the country style.
Krevo Castle Golsha Castle Lidsky Castle Kossovsky Castle
The Polish dominance left on the Belarusian land not only the memories of the oppression of local people, but also a number of invaluable monuments of architecture. Basically, the Poles inherited the Belarusian churches, of which the guides unanimously consider the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pinsk, the Church of Francis Xaveria in Grodno and the Church of the Holy Trinity in Volchin as obligatory to visit. All three buildings were built between the XVII-XVIII centuries and are well preserved. There are also enough Catholic churches of later periods, more ornate in their decoration and built mainly in the Neo-Gothic style.
Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pinsk Church of Francis Xavier The Holy Trinity Church in Volchin
Orthodox pilgrims will want to visit the St. Boris and Gleb (Kolozhskaya) Church in Grodno (XII century). Experts claim that the church has no analogues in terms of style. Indeed, the construction looks non-trivial and mysterious. The Assumption Zhirovichi Monastery and St. Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk can also tell entertaining chronicles.
Kolozhskaya Church in Grodno Svyato-Uspensky Zhirovichi Monastery Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk
Constant change of Belarusian territories from hand to hand also could not but leave its mark on the local architecture. There are as many military forts and citadels in the “land of cornflowers” as there are princely castles. The main must-see in this niche are the Bobruisk and Brest Fortresses. Both were erected in the XIX century, but the most terrible and heroic moments of their biography experienced in the Great Patriotic War. Another monument dedicated to the victims of the Nazi occupation is the Khatyn Memorial Complex. It is a kind of architectural requiem for all the Belarusian villages, burned by the punishers together with their inhabitants.
The Brest Fortress Bobruisk Fortress Khatyn Memorial Complex
Reserves and national parks
Ecotourism in Belarus is growing and flourishing. The most mainstream route is Belovezhskaya Pushcha with its relict tree species, bison and name oaks, which are 5000 years old. By the way, the status of the reserve was granted to the local territories 600 years ago by the Lithuanian prince Jogaila. You can visit the Berezinskiy Biospheric Reserve on the excursion around the capital of Belarus. The park is only 120 km from Minsk and it takes only an hour and a half to get there.
The Braslav Lakes Nature Reserve is a different kind of attraction. Here you can catch river fish and take romantic selfies. The floodplain oak forests of the Pripyatsky National Park are often called “the Belarusian Amazonia” and they do not exaggerate a bit. The similarities between such distant from each other natural areas are stunning. The Belarusians should be grateful to the Valdai glacier, which left 43 pristine lakes as a reminder of their stay, for the reserve “Narochanski”. Besides the eco-parks, the local forests deserve a special mention; one can speak about their generosity endlessly. In the season mushrooms and berries from pine and spruce thickets are taken out by tractor carts. This is confirmed by the amateur photos which are regularly posted in the social networks by Belarusian villagers and tourists.
There are over a hundred and fifty museums in Belarus. Some of them are open at historical monuments like the Mir Castle, the Rumyantsev Palace and the Brest Fortress, and some are classic urban expositions. The largest exhibition halls are, of course, the capital ones – the National Museum of Art and History, the Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, the Museum of Books on Independence Avenue.
Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War Minsk library
Lifehack for tourists: to save money on visiting Minsk exhibitions, buy or order on the official website Guest Card, which provides free visits to the city’s museums and serves as a pass for public transport.
In Vitebsk the most visited place is the house-museum of Marc Chagall, the main romantic of the avant-garde. By the way, if you move to the left bank of the Zapadnaya Dvina, you can come across the artist’s art center, where, among his other works, the illustrations to Gogol’s “Dead Souls”, made in Shagal’s trademark style, are kept. Enchanted by medieval ballads, the ancient Polotsk with its permanent knighthood exposition awaits. And true patriots will find it useful to take a “dose” of the heroic atmosphere of the Military-historical complex “Stalin Line”, situated in the vicinity of Loshany village of Minsk Region.
In general in Belarus they like to make something creative, which affects the themes of the local expositions. You might find the Museum of Pharmacy, the Museum of Kunstkammer in Grodno, the Museum of Boulders – collections of these mini-anopticaems will entertain you and help you pass the time.
Step by step across the planet
Belarus is an independent sovereign state located in Eastern Europe. Until 1991 the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) was part of the USSR, and after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics it was renamed the Republic of Belarus. Belarus means ancient castles and family estates, amazing temples and monasteries, museums and ethnographic villages. And of course nature with its beautiful birch groves and majestic pine forests, with crystal lakes and quiet rivers.
You can see all the beauty of the Republic of Belarus if you use Minsk transfer by a comfortable minibus or by car.
The Republic of Belarus
Content of the article
The capital of
The capital of Belarus is the hero-city Minsk, located on the river Svisloch. Minsk is the largest transport hub, an economic, cultural, scientific and industrial center of the Republic. About 17% of the total republican volume of manufactured industrial products is produced in Minsk. There is a national airport in Minsk.
The flag of the Republic of Belarus is a rectangular-shaped cloth, with an aspect ratio of 1:2, which depicts two horizontal stripes, the lower green and the upper red, two larger in size. Around the staff there is a vertical stripe with the image of red and white national ornament of the Republic, which is 1/9 of the length of the cloth. The red color on the Belarusian flag symbolizes the standard of the victorious Grunwald battle of the Belarusian regiments with the crusaders, the color of the Red Army and partisan brigades banners. The green color stands for the natural riches of the country. Ornamentation is the symbol of the ancient culture of the people of Belarus, its spiritual wealth and unity.
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The State Emblem of the Republic of Belarus represents the history of origin of the state, its structure, national traditions, economy and nature. The coat of arms of Belarus depicts:
- The green outline of the country’s state border is depicted at the very center of the coat of arms;
- The globe (the basis of all life on Earth) and the rising sun – a symbol of prosperity, the life force;
- Wreaths wrapped with a red and green ribbon, to the right – of ears and flax flowers, to the left – of ears and clover, symbols of wealth, fertility, generous abundance and labor;
- a red and green ribbon with the inscription in the Belarusian language “RESPUBLIC OF BELARUS”;
- at the top of the coat of arms is a five-pointed star – a symbol of eternity, happiness, striving for a better life, as well as – a symbol of security and safety.
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The official currency of the Republic of Belarus is the Belarusian Ruble (ISO code BYN, the symbol – Br). There are coins worth 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 kopecks, and 1 and 2 rubles in circulation and banknotes worth 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 rubles. Belarusian ruble can be bought only upon arrival in the country.
Belarus on the world map
The Republic of Belarus is a state in Eastern Europe, bordering with Russia in the north and east, with Ukraine in the south, with Poland in the west and with Lithuania and Latvia in the north. The total area of Belarus is 207,595 km2 .
It is a flat country without access to the sea. Vegetation occupies 93.1% of the total territory of the country. Forests make up 1/3 of the country’s green cover. The south of the Republic is a swampy area, with the famous Belarusian Polesie, the north is the land of lakes.
What is worth seeing in Belarus
The main attraction of Belarus is, of course – the beautiful nature (crystal rivers and lakes, deep forests, green fields, nature reserves) as well as castles, ethnographic villages, ancient ancestral estates, monasteries and much more…
And here is a small list of attractions, which you should pay attention to when planning tours to Belarus:
- Belovezhskaya Pushcha Brest Fortress
- Radziwill Palace and park complex in Nesvizh
- Lida Castle
- Mir Castle
- National Library
- Independence Square
- St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church
- The Island of Tears
- Lake Naroch
- Mir Castle Regular Park
- The Central Gorky Park for children in Minsk
Major cities of Belarus
- Minsk (capital of Belarus)
The climate of Belarus is moderately continental, with distinctly cold winters and warm, rainy summers. The average summer temperature is +17 ° C … + 20 ° C, in winter – from – 4 ° C to – 10 ° C. In some parts of the country, the temperature remains below zero for more than a third of the year.
There are quite a lot of nationalities living in Belarus, but most are Belarusians – 81% of the population. Other nationalities include Russians 9.8%, Poles 3.5%, Ukrainians 1.9%, 3.8% – Tatars, Lithuanians, Latvians, Jews and representatives of other nationalities.
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the state languages in the country are Belarusian and Russian, and people can also be heard speaking Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian.
According to the law of the Republic of Belarus “everyone has the right to choose his atheistic or religious views, namely: to determine his attitude to religion, to profess any religion individually or together with others or not to profess any. The dominant religion in Belarus is Christianity (82% are Orthodox, 12% are Catholics, 3% are Uniates, and 3% are Protestants).
National Holidays in Belarus
- January 1 – New Year
- January 7 – Christmas
- March 8 – Women’s Day
- 15 March – Constitution Day
- Easter (according to the Orthodox and Catholic calendars)
- April 2 – Day of Unity of the Peoples of Belarus and Russia
- No. 9 day after Orthodox Easter – Radunitsa
- 1st May – Labour Day
- May 9 – Victory Day
- Independence Day on July 3
- November 7 – October Revolution Day
- December 25 – Catholic Christmas
Here is a little list of the most widespread souvenirs that tourists usually take from Belarus:
- Authentic products of “Ragna” brand
- Belarusian sweets
- Belarusian ceramics
- Valenki and hats from sheep wool
- Wooden products
- Straw products
- Natural Belarusian linen
- Madeleine leather goods
- Slutsk belts
- Vine souvenirs
“No nail, no rod” or customs rules
All entering and leaving the country must fill out a customs declaration. Customs regulations of Belarus allow carrying up to 50 kg of personal luggage, the value of which does not exceed 1500 Euros. Everything over – is subject to 30% duty, but not less than 4 Euros for every extra kilogram.
Alcohol and beer of not more than 3 liters (for one person aged 18 or over); 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco, or any other goods in assortment weighing not more than 250 grams are allowed.
Import of foreign currency into Belarus is not limited. Amounts equivalent to more than 10,000 dollars are subject to written declaration at importation into Belarus.
It is prohibited to import: firearms, military ammunition, drugs, poisons, radioactive and explosive substances.
Animals and plant crops may be imported only with the appropriate veterinary and medical documents.
What about outlets?
The voltage in the electrical network of the Republic of Belarus: 230/230 V, frequency 50 Hz, types of outlets: C, F.
Phone code and domain name of Belarus
Country code : +375 First level domain name : .by
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