What To See And Do In Minsk, Belarus

A_Matskevich (CC0), Pixabay

Pinewood forests, timeless architecture, colorful culture and quick access to highways leading to other major capitals – what’s not to love about Minsk? It’s filled with wondrous things to see and do – from JFK’s assassin’s apartment to 16 varied museums, numerous churches, historical squares, kitschy bazaars, botanical gardens, cozy taverns with delicious local meals and so much more. In a nutshell, there’s something for everyone. The following sights and activities will help you get the most of the city even if you’re visiting just for a couple of days.

Go museum hunting

A museum of miniatures, a museum of national arts, a museum of nature and environment… the list goes on and on. It’s safe to say that even though Minsk has less than 20 museums (which is a small number if you’re a die-hard museum buff), you won’t be disappointed in any of them.

Stop by the USSR’s very first circus facility

During the 1900s circus became so popular that it was eventually compared to the heights of classical forms of art like ballet and opera. As such, in 1959 the Belarusian State Circus building officially opened its doors to the public, becoming the very first immovable, permanent circus facility to ever exist in the USSR. Up to present day the State Circus building still hosts performances by award-winning Belarusian and foreign troupes.

Check out the KGB building

Remember all those Hollywood movies in which American agents feared the abbreviation KGB? Well, you don’t need to travel to Moscow in order to get close to the dreaded intelligence agency because there’s one in Minsk too. It’s the successor of the Soviet KGB and it’s just as secretive, feared and controversial as its predecessor.

Get lost among 19th century houses in Minsk’s oldest neighborhood

During World War II almost the entire city was destroyed and was later rebuilt in typical Stalinist style, hence the massive buildings, large boulevards and decorative architecture. Trinity Hill, however, the oldest neighborhood in the capital, is worlds away from downtown Minsk. Most of its 19th century houses and small streets are still there, serving as a well-preserved time capsule. It’s a tiny, charming neighborhood with a couple of easily recognizable modern landmarks – the Island of Tears monument and the National Opera and Ballet Theater.

Take a relaxing stroll in the numerous parks

Mixed forests, an amusement park inside one of the actual parks, lovely alleys, hundreds of fountains and even a river – the diversity of the public gardens in Minsk is stunning and with a population of around 2 million citizens the parks offer a soothing escape from the heavily urbanized and often overcrowded streets. They are the perfect destination if you get tired of sightseeing or you’re simply craving a slowpaced stroll away from the city hassle.

Bask in the glory of awesome graffiti murals on Kastrychnitskaya Street

Many people wrongfully associate graffiti with hooligans and vandalism. If you’re one of them, Kastrychnitskaya Street will most definitely change your mind with its gigantic murals painted on the brick walls of old factories and other industrial buildings.

Head over to the best lookout spot in the city

The National Library of Belarus situated in Minsk is iconic for its diamond-rhombus inspired shape. It serves as a cultural center, an information center, a recreational center and a tourist attraction. If history, architecture and books aren’t your cup of tea, you should still put the library on your things-to-do list because its rooftop observation deck is the best lookout spot in the entire city.

Don’t forget to taste Belarusian potato specialties

Belarusians love potatoes. Historians might say they even cherish them more than bread and there’s a substantial reason for that. Meat wasn’t popular on the Belarusian table for centuries and these Slavs had to make do with whatever they could cultivate in their yard. Potatoes are high on minerals and vitamins, low on calories and lack any fat, sodium, gluten and cholesterol. Naturally, Belarusian cuisine is abundant on delicious potato specialties like tsibriki, kishka, kolduny, draniki and more.

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