The capital Minsk was first mentioned in 1067. However, apart from the ruins of the medieval cathedral (12th century) and some buildings from the 17th century, only a few old buildings have survived. As an important transport hub, Minsk was completely destroyed in World War II and is today a modern city with wide streets, attractive parks and a rich cultural offering. There are numerous museums: the National Museum of History and Natural History and the Folklore Museum are particularly worth seeing. Museums are also dedicated to the three most famous Belarusian poets Kolas, Kupala and Brovka. The National Gallery is also interesting with beautiful icons and the Museum of the Second World War. Traveling exhibitions are shown in the Palace of Culture . The art gallery specializes mainly in modern art. Museum opening times: Tue-Sun 10am-7pm.
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In the suburb of Troitskoje Predmestje you get an impression of what Minsk used to look like. You walk past pretty houses built in the 19th century, whose facades are kept in yellow, green or warm red tones. The Holy Spirit Cathedral (1642), the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral (1613) and the Maryinsky Cathedral date from the Baroque era, which was rebuilt in its original form. On the Mascherov Prospekt there are not only the big hotels, but also some imposing classical buildings such as the Palace of Culture. Around 22 km from the capital, in a picturesque setting at the gates of the village of Raubichi, there is a folklore museum that is well worth a visit, housed in a former church. You should definitely plan a trip to the idyllic Minsk Lake with its many pretty little islands. Surrounded by spruce forests, the lake is a popular local recreation area (10 km from Minsk).
Wickerwork, decorative wooden boxes, painted plates, and other craft items make lovely keepsakes. In Minsk there are special shops where you can pay with hard currency. Watches, cameras, wine, spirits, furs, ceramics, glassware, jewelry and toys are offered here — only against foreign currency and credit cards. Typical Russian souvenirs such as matryoshkas, brightly painted wooden dolls, are also available here. You can even buy a real samovar. All other shops must be paid in local currency. There are two large department stores on Skarina Prospekt in Minsk. Almost all shops are closed on Sundays; however, the dedicated foreign exchange shops are normally open daily. An export license is required for antiques, other valuable objects, works of art and manuscripts. In general, it is advisable to keep receipts until you leave the country, as they may have to be shown to customs. Shop opening hours: Mon-Sat 09.00-18.00. In larger cities, shops are open all week, some 24 hours a day.
Minsk has a diverse cultural life, with opera, classical ballet, theatre, circus and marionette theater to choose from. In the cultural center you can experience the rousing folk dances. Brest also has a stage and a puppet theater.
Belorussian borscht, beetroot soup served hot with sour cream and fillet à la Minsk are just some of the tasty specialties. Potatoes dominate the menu, while mushrooms and berries are the most popular side dishes. Be sure to try drazhenij, a delicious potato dish with mushrooms, and draniki, served with berry preserves. Mochanka is a soup made with lard that is served with hot pancakes. The best place to eat is in the hotel restaurants. Many hotels and restaurants also accept foreign currencies. Drinks: The Belovjeschkaja liqueur, made from over 100 herbs, has a very special taste. One of the most popular drinks here is chai (black tea). Soft drinks, fruit juices and mineral water are available everywhere. Kvass is a refreshing and unusual drink made from fermented bread, flour and malt, ideal for hot days. Drinks are usually ordered by the gram or bottle. According to current regulations, no more than 100 ml of alcohol may be sold per person per meal. Some bars and cafes stay open until the early hours, while others usually close at 9pm. ideal for hot days. Drinks are usually ordered by the gram or bottle. According to current regulations, no more than 100 ml of alcohol may be sold per person per meal. Some bars and cafes stay open until the early hours, while others usually close at 9pm. ideal for hot days. Drinks are usually ordered by the gram or bottle. According to current regulations, no more than 100 ml of alcohol may be sold per person per meal. Some bars and cafes stay open until the early hours, while others usually close at 9pm.
There are 4, 3 and 2 star hotels in Minsk, Brest, Grodno, Mogilev and Vitebsk. 1-star hotels are available in Pinsk and other regional centers. More information Minsktourist, ul. Tankavaya 30, Minsk. (Tel: (0172) 23 73 60. Internet: www.minsktourist.by).
Campsites are only sporadically available. However, camping outside of towns in rural areas is allowed, provided that nature and people are respected.
Predominantly Russian Orthodox; also Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Islamic.
Social Rules of Conduct
They shake hands to greet each other. Hospitality goes without saying. Non-smoking zones are marked. Tipping: 10% is usual. Some hotels in Minsk and other major cities add 10-15% to the bill for service. Photographing Military and strategic installations should not be photographed.
Best travel time
Temperate continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. The best time to visit Belarus is from late spring to early autumn.
Area (sq km)
9,449,323 (Source: homosociety)
Population density (per square km)
Population statistics year
Member of the EU
Main emergency number