Belarus (formerly Byelorussia – White Russia) remains firmly locked in the past. While its neighbours to the north and West (Poland, Lithuania and Latvia) have joined the EU and those to the East and South (Russia and Ukraine) seem to move closer to Western commercialism and the economics of the free market, Belarus , the most Westerly republic of the old USSR, clings steadfastly to the ideals of Soviet Communism. The country remains Europe’s last dictatorship although it is claimed that the country’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko, has won the overwhelming support of the Belarus people by providing them with pensions and subsidies together with the reassurances of the old soviet system. Visiting the country is like stepping back in time. Medieval churches and cities are surrounded by silver birch forests dotted with UNESCO protected fortresses such as Mir while the capital Minsk, almost completely destroyed in World War II, is like a testament to superlative Stalinist architecture.
Minsk is a living monument to the grandeur of post-war Soviet urban planning where expansive boulevards and vast green areas guard the last section of the old town the Nazis could not destroy. The city, like the country, has been victim to the vicissitudes of history, controlled by Poles. Lithuanians, Russians, Nazis and Soviets but Minsk still has an appeal of its own with its classical architecture and monuments to heroism on the banks of the Svislach River.
Experience and learn about the rich history, heritage and culture of Belarus and Minsk by viewing the many icons in the city including Independence Square, the red brick church of Saint Simon and Helena, the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit and the Old Town. Get a feel for the Belarusian countryside with visits to the UNESCO Heritage fortress of Mir and the Radzivill’s Palace in Nesvizh and be sure to experience the customs and traditions of the Belarusian people with a farmstead picnic lunch and a visit to the Museum of Folk Handicrafts at Dudutki