Take a tour of Belarus, a state in Eastern Europe. Because this country is criss-crossed by rivers and ranges of hills and covered by forests, it is particularly suitable for long hiking tours. Because of its former affiliation to the Polish-Lithuanian aristocratic republic, Belarus has a lot to offer from a cultural point of view. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Mir Castle, a baroque church building, the Struve Arch and the residence of the Radziwi family in Nyasvish. The cultural center of the country is the capital Minsk with its numerous universities, the opera and ballet house, the circus school, the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, the obelisk on Victory Square or the Palace of the Republic on October Square. You can also admire other cities in Belarus such as Gomel with the Rumyantsev Pashkevich Palace; Vitebsk with the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the City Hall and the Art Center; the city of Brest with the Museum of Defense of the Brest Fortress and the Church of the Holy Resurrection or the city of Pinsk. Do not miss a study trip through Belarus!
Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is located in the Grodno Region in Belarus, on the border with Poland. It is a preserved part of the protected forest WHS Białowieża, the last fragment of primeval forest in Europe, which once stretched across the European lowlands. The park has a large population of European bison, the heaviest land animals on the continent. The border between the two countries runs through the forest and on the Polish side of the border is the Białowieża National Park. Since May 2015 there has been a visa-free system for hikers and cyclists in the forest on the border between Pererov and Białowieża. Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. In 1993 it received the status of a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
The biosphere reserve, which is one of the last remaining primeval forest areas in Europe, covers an area of 216,200 hectares, which is divided into different zones. Most of the Białowieża Forest was declared a national park on August 11, 1932 during the Second Republic of Poland. After the Second World War, the forest was divided according to the Polish-Soviet border agreement of August 1945 between the People’s Republic of Poland and the Belarusian SSR of the Soviet Union. Poland reopened the Białowieża National Park in 1947.
Majestic giant trees and biodiversity
Today Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is one of the most famous places in Belarus and plays a very important role in the ecology of the country. The park is famous for its oak trees that are more than 500 years old and more than 1000 species of trees and flowers. Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is also home to more than 300 species of animals and birds, including the largest population of the rare bison, wolves, lynxes, eagles, wild horses and tawny owls. In addition to the beautiful forest, the national park is also home to a zoo, library and museum and supports wood processing, handicrafts and various local industries.
Belarus is a real insider tip for tourists. If you are traveling in the north of the country near the border with Russia and Latvia, you should make a detour to Vitebsk. The city is considered the country’s cultural capital – and not without reason. After all, Vitebsk is the birthplace of the French painter Marc Chagall. The Art Center Marc Chagall still commemorates the city’s most famous son. In addition, the Chagall Days, which take place every year on the artist’s birthday in July, always attract thousands of art lovers from all over the world.
Activities and sights
Another cultural highlight is the “Slavic Bazaar” music festival, which also takes place every summer. Various music groups and bands from Eastern Europe perform in the amphitheater. The former governor’s palace in Vitebsk is also well worth a visit. In front of the imposing building there are also some statues and a memorial in memory of the victims of World War II. Also very popular excursion destinations are the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of the Resurrection, both of which are among the oldest churches in Belarus. And if you are looking for peace and relaxation in the Vitebsk region, you are in the right place in the beautiful “Braslavski Ozera” National Park with its more than 300 small and large lakes.
A very special sight in Belarus
Mir Castle, which dates back to the 16th century and is located in Belarus, is a magnificent building from this era. During this time, art, literature and philosophy were revitalized. Visitors to the country like to visit the residence, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. The building combines a wide variety of architectural styles, which is why it is a real eye-catcher and a special feature. Baroque and Renaissance elements can be found here as well as parts that are built in the Gothic style. The view is dominated by the five brick towers. This mansion is therefore a worthwhile destination for fans of architecture.
History of Mir Castle
This magnificent building was commissioned by Duke Yuri Ilyinich. He replaced a Tartar castle that was only made of wood. In this way he underpinned his possession and power. The construction time was only four years and lasted from 1506 to 1510.
When the Ilyinich family died out in 1568, Mikołaj Krzysztof “the orphan” Radziwiłł bought the castle for himself and expanded it. A protective wall was built and redesigned in the style of the Renaissance. The five characteristic towers that served as defense had already been built. These fortifications were also necessary as there were several attacks by the Swedes, Russians and Cossacks between the middle of the 17th and the end of the 18th century.
After several changes of ownership, the Russian general Nikolai Swjatopolk-Mirski came into possession of the land in 1895 and then took care of the reconstruction and restoration of the complex.
The Second World War also plays a role in the history of the building. After the Germans occupied the country, they converted Schloss Mir into a ghetto in which they locked up and killed the Jews who lived there.
In the 80s of the last century, further restoration measures took place, which ensured that the value was preserved and tourists discovered the feudal seat for themselves.