Minsk is a walking city, a place full of curiosities waiting to be discovered. If the city is low on tourists it’s partly because there aren’t many tourist attractions but that doesn’t mean that it’s not an interesting place.
To a certain extent the city as a whole is the attraction, a giant Soviet theme park full of Stalinist architecture, Soviet chic and monuments to its tragic history.
If you only go to one museum then make sure it’s The Museum of the Great Patriotic War. It will give you a greater understanding of the history of the city and it explains in graphic terms exactly why there is a pre-occupation with memorials to the war across not just Minsk but the entire country.
Few buildings survived the war but among them were Orthodox and Catholic churches. As if to compensate, some older buildings have been given grand makeovers to restore them to their pre-war pomp. Others, namely the Hotel Europe and the Town Hall on Ploshad Svobodi, have been built from scratch in the same style and on the same sites as the original buildings that were destroyed many decades ago.
A few walking tours around Minsk will offer you the chance to see a city that has changed little since the fall of the USSR but you will also notice that it won’t stay like that for too much longer. There are construction sites ringing the centre of the capital and ambitious plans for office blocks, hypermarkets and new apartments. So the best time to visit is now.
One thing that won’t change is the amount of open space. Minsk is full of wide boulevards and parks that offer a retreat from urban life. There are so many places where you can forget that you are actually in Europe’s 13th largest city. Walk away from Nemiga down Prospekt Pobeditelely and there are only two roads to cross that will hinder your progress from the city centre into open countryside some 5 kilometres away. And you can complete most of the journey on grass.
Indeed the lack of too many must-see focal points gives you the freedom to wander its streets, take in the atmosphere and enjoy Minsk for what it is; a peaceful city that on first impressions may be a little bit daunting but ultimately is utterly rewarding.
Parks Museums Churches Monuments & Statues Old Town National Library