Year Visited: 2018 – July
After spending a month in the Caucasus Region, I took a flight from Yerevan, Armenia to Minsk, Belarus. I didn’t have any expectation before arriving in Belarus; I was on a backpacking trip through Eastern and Central European countries, I learned about newly relaxed visa rule from the Belarus government and booked my flight ticket, it was 5 days visa free entry at that time (Jul 2018) now I guess it has been increased to 30 days visa free. I was more interested in experiencing the history of the Soviet Union without visiting Russia.
Belarus is a former Soviet Republic and a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. Until the 20th century, various empires controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. Current president, Alexander Lukashenko has served as the country’s first and only president since 1994. He continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy.
With more than 11,000 lakes and 40% of its territory composed of misty forest, Belarus is a beautiful country to travel to, home to friendliest locals I ever met. As my Visa free entry was valid for only 5 days, I made Minsk as my base and travel nearby place. I would love to come back to this country and explore more, as visa free entry is now valid for a month.
Minsk is the capital and largest city of Belarus. During the World War II, the population of Minsk was reduced from 300,000 people to 50,000 people. The city was 80% destroyed and was rebuilt in the 1950s to the liking of Stalin. This has made Minsk famous for its Soviet architecture, with big concrete buildings and wide avenues, and many hail Minsk as the most perfect example of a Soviet city.
Retro style restaurant and Bar with very interesting interior
The Loshitsy park is a lovely place to walk or picnic and has a lovely old orchard which was once part of the old estate. I would not have known about this park without help from my local friend.
My local friend took us on a road trip to Zaslawye, a beautiful historic town founded in 985.
The 1st stop was the museum of mythology and forest, The museum sets several goals at once: to bring children closer to the nature, to teach children to take care of environment, and to tell them about the rich spiritual culture of the Belarusian people.
Next stop was Zamechek (Castle), an archaeological site of the Zaslaŭje town of the 10 – 12th centuries that has a fortified church of Savior Transfiguration, built in 1577.
After a day in countryside, my local friend invited us to his home for dinner and drinks, photos below are from his home and his family.
This was the first time a saw a wine/liquor shop, where you can buy kvass, beer, cider and sbiten; they will fill up drink of your choice in vacuum sealed plastic bottle.
While I was in Belarus flowers where blooming everywhere around its cities and towns. I couldn’t stop myself taking pictures of these beautiful flowers.
After 5 days in Minsk, I flew to Kiyv, Ukraine.