A landlocked country in Eastern Europe, Belarus has emerged out of its dark historic past of war and destruction. Many architectural treasures and structures have survived to be great spots for tourists, which tell the story of this amazing country.
There is a lot of traditional eastern orthodox inspired architecture. Belarus is mainly known for its Stalinist architecture, grand fortifications, historical castles and primeval forests. Being a country with four UNESCO World Heritage sites, Belarus has its own importance in the world map. Artistic movements and religious activities have played a major role in shaping the architecture if Belarus with its fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic, Baroque and Classicism, Modernism and Eclecticism, found across the country.
1. The Mir Castle
Situated in Minsk the castle belonged to the rich famous family of Radzivills of the 16th century. One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, The Castle is among the most interesting architectural piece that is to be visited in Belarus. The massive structure is a stunning blend of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture with mighty fortifications around it. Alongside the vast artificial lake there are beautiful flower gardens designed in exquisite Italian style.
2. The Kossovo Palace
The Kossovo Palace or The Palace of the Puslovshys is nicknamed as Knights’ dream for its fairy tale like appearance and splendor. The grand structure of the neo gothic era shows elements of classicism of 19th century. Suggested by architect Franciszek Jaszczold the design of the palace is unique. It is a central two storied building with two wings. The palace has over hundred rooms, audience chambers, the ceremonial chamber etc. the palace is also surrounded by a park, a greenhouse and three artificial lakes. Now the Kossovo Palace has been turned into a cultural, social and tourism centre.
3. Stanislaus Cathedral
Situated in the city of Mogilev which was established on the bank of the Dnieper River more than seven centuries ago, St. Stanislaus Cathedral is a stunning baroque style Roman Catholic Church built on the site of Carmelite monastery. At the end of the 18th century the Cathedral was reconstructed in Classicism style. The domes of the cathedral are decorated with the unique authentic 18th century frescos of the Bible stories representing one of the most complete and professional Evangilical cycles of Belarus.
4. Kamenets Tower
Kamenets Tower also known as the Kamenets pillar or Kamenets Vezha has its origins back to the second half of the 13th century. It is a fine example of defensive medieval architecture without use of much decorative elements, instead it has thin portholes and four flat niches with semicircular ends and a decorative strip runs around the top of the tower. The five tier round building which is 30m high, 2.5m thick with outer diameter of 13.6m is made of dark red and yellowish bricks. It has 2.3m high foundation which is 16m in diameter.
5. Saint Sophia Cathedral
Situated in the ancient town of Polotsk, Saint Sophia Cathedral has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was constructed in the year 1044-1066 by Byzantine architects and local residents. The structure accommodated a huge library archives, treasury etc. and it became a religious, educational and cultural center in Polotsk. It reflects the ancient Russian Architecture. Today Saint Sophia Cathedral is one of the most important cultural centers of Belarus.
6. The Nesvizh Palace
Nesvizh is to the south west of Minsk. The people of Belarus consider The Nesvizh Palace as the most beautiful and attractive Palace in the country. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage List the Palace is an amazing combination of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicism, Neo-gothic and Modernism styles. These styles are reflected in the structure as it went through reconstructions and renovations time to time. Blend of various architectural styles, the palace represents rich and diverse designs and elements.
7. Kolozha Church
Kolozha Church also known as St Boris and Gleb Church has a unique example of Eastern Orthodox architecture in Belarus and entire Eastern Europe. It is situated in the Grodno region. It has an ancient stone architecture which also has the influence of traditional Byzantine temple architecture. It is a six column tri apsidal temple. It has a large number of ceramic vase-like indentations built into the walls and this provides with wonderful acoustics. To add to the design the structure has large polished stones and multicolor cross shaped majolica tiles.
8. Brest Hero-Fortress
Situated on the south west of Belarus, Brest Hero-Fortress is famous for its heroic defense against German invaders during the World War II. While entering the Fortress, visitors can hear the original announcement about the fascist invasion and being in the place one can feel the atmosphere of the heroic times. Dating back to 1830s this is among the architectural structures one must surely visit.
9. Nicholas Monastery
The Monastery is situated in the city of Mogilev. Among the few existing buildings in the Belarusian Baroque style, St. Nicholas Monastery is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list. St. Nicholas Monastery is an elegant four tier iconostasis made by skilled Mogilev carvers.
10. Lida Castle
Built in the early 14th century by Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania, Lida Castle is one of the oldest castles of Belarus. Situated in the north west of Grodno region, it is one of the finest archeological monuments which are protected by the state officially. Today the Castle is a famous tourist attraction for the visitors. The layout of the Lida castle is almost similar to that of the Mir castle.
11. The Church of St. Simon and Elena
Also known as the Red Church, The Church of St. Simon and Elena is a Roman Catholic Church. It was designed by polish architects Tomasz Pajzderski and Wladyslaw Marconi in Minsk. It’s a neo gothic building with modernist features constructed during the years of 1905-1910. The Church represents a Neo-Romanesque style of architecture.
12. Francis Xavier Cathedral
This amazing cathedral, which is 50m high, is situated in the Ancient city of Grodno. It is believed to be the most gorgeous and beautiful religious building in Rzeczpospolita. The cathedral is known for its stunning wooden alter decorated with carved figures of apostles and saints. One of its towers has Europe’s oldest working clock with a unique pendulum motion dating back to the 12th-14th centuries. It is visible from any park of the city.
13. Bobruisk Fortress
It’s one of the best surviving examples of fortification architecture of the first half of the 19th century and one of the best equipped defense installations in Europe. The fortress was surrounded by 10m high earthwork and ditches filled with water from the Berezina and the Bobruika river. Now various archeological studies, film shootings etc. takes place in the fortress.
14. Trinity Church
Trinity Church is situated in the village of Vidzy is Belarus’ second largest Roman Catholic Church. With spires of 59m high, it’s one of the highest churches in the country. It’s one of the most classical buildings in Belarus with sophisticated window lattice, pointed arches, high spies and colorful stained glass windows.
15. John the Baptist Church
Situated in the village of Kamai of Postavy District, St. John the Baptist Church is one of the three Belarusian fortified churches included in the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list. The church was built as a fortress and put up defense during the war against Sweden when its walls were damaged by cannonballs.