Top Historic Sights in Minsk, Belarus

Explore the historic highlights of Minsk

Minsk City Hall

Minsk City Hall is a symbol of the city government. It appeared in the city in connection with the acquisition of Magdeburg Law in Minsk including the 15 largest cities in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The first mention of a stone building of the Minsk City Hall belongs to 1583. Later it was rebuilt many times and changed its appearance. In the XIX century it was the court, the police guardhouse, archive, and City Theatre ...
Founded: 1583/2003 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Great Patriotic War Museum

The Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum is a museum commemorating the German-Soviet War after the end of Nazi occupation sprung up even before the close of the war. The museum first opened shortly after the liberation of Minsk from the Nazi invaders, on 25 October 1944, making it the first World War II museum to open during the course of the war. It relocated to its current location in 1966. The museum staff also engage ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Cathedral of Saint Virgin Mary

Cathedral of the Holy Name of Mary is a Roman Catholic Baroque cathedral. It was built in 1710 as a church for the Jesuit house. In 1793, after the Russian conquest of Belarus, the Jesuit order was banned and the church got a local status. Soon, after creation of the Minsk diocese, the church became the local cathedral. The Cathedral was heavily damaged in a fire in 1797, but was later fully renewed. In 1869, the Minsk d ...
Founded: 1710 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

St. Joseph Church

St. Joseph Church is a former Roman Catholic church. The building, which is an example of the Baroque architecture style, was completed in 1752. The church was named after the monastery to which it belonged. It was closed in the 1860s and became an Orthodox Church. Since the late 19th century, it has been used to store archives.
Founded: 1752 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Belarusian National Arts Museum

Belarusian National Arts Museum is the largest museum in the country. More than twenty seven thousand works of art – creating twenty miscellaneous collections and comprising two main representative ones: the one of national art and the other of monuments of art of the countries and nations of the world – can be found on exposition, at the branches of the Museum and its depositories. The Museum’s officia ...
Founded: 1939 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Holy Spirit Cathedral

Holy Spirit Cathedral was built in Baroque style between 1633-1642 as the main temple of Catholic Bernadine convent. During the 1700-1800s it was reconstructed to the present architectural shape. In 1852 the convent was closed, and its nuns were sent to Nesvizh town. In I860 the former monastic church was turned into the orthodox church. After ten years an orthodox monastery was opened here. In 1918, after the closing of ...
Founded: 1633-1642 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Church of Saints Simon and Helena

Church of Saints Simon and Helen, also known as the Red Church, is a neo-Romanesque church designed by polish architects Tomasz Pajzderski and Władysław Marconi. It was built between 1905-1910. The bricks for its walls were sourced from Częstochowa, whilst the roof tiles came from Włocławek. Its construction was financed by Edward Woyniłłowicz, a prominent Belarusian civic activist. The ...
Founded: 1905-1910 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Holy Trinity Church

Church of Holy Trinity was consecrated in 1864. In the 1930s, the church was closed and the valuables removed by the Soviet authorities. Renovation of the church started in 1983.
Founded: 1864 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Peter and Paul Cathedral

SS Peter and Paul Church is one of the oldest stone buildings in Minsk, constructed on a narrow street Rakauskaja and remained up till now as a monument of architecture of the 17th century. The building was started in 1611 and was finished after two years. During wars and religious conflicts the church served as a fortress. It explains the thickness of its walls, a high arrangement of windows above the ground and presence ...
Founded: 1611-1613 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Pischalauski Castle

Pischalauski Castle is also sometimes called the Belarusian Bastille. The castle was built in 1825. It formerly served as a prison. The architect was named Pishchala. The castle was the site of the imprisonment of Belarusian writer Yakub Kolas from 1908 to 1911. A portion of one the castle"s four towers collapsed in April 2008.
Founded: 1825 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Loshyca Manor

Loshyca manor-park complex represents the manor style from the latter 19th century. The first manor appeared here in the middle of the 16th century. The current manor house was built by Evstafiy Liubansky in 1880. It is a monument of architecture of a modernist style. The complex includes a house-manor, a chapel, a house-keeper house, a watermill, a distillery, economic constructions, and a picturesque park. These are mag ...
Founded: 1880 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Castle de Haar

Castle de Haar is the largest and most fairytale-like castle in the Netherlands. The current buildings, all built upon the original castle, date from 1892 and are the work of Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers, in a Neo-Gothic restoration project funded by the Rothschild family.

The oldest historical record of a building at the location of the current castle dates to 1391. In that year, the family De Haar received the castle and the surrounding lands as fiefdom from Hendrik van Woerden. The castle remained in the ownership of the De Haar family until 1440, when the last male heir died childless. The castle then passed to the Van Zuylen family. In 1482, the castle was burned down and the walls were torn down, except for the parts that did not have a military function. These parts probably were incorporated into the castle when it was rebuilt during the early 16th century. The castle is mentioned in an inventory of the possessions of Steven van Zuylen from 1506, and again in a list of fiefdoms in the province Utrecht from 1536. The oldest image of the castle dates to 1554 and shows that the castle had been largely rebuilt by then. After 1641, when Johan van Zuylen van der Haar died childless, the castle seems to have gradually fallen into ruins. The castle escaped from total destruction by the French during the Rampjaar 1672.

In 1801 the last catholic van Zuylen in the Netherlands, the bachelor Anton-Martinus van Zuylen van Nijevelt (1708-1801) bequeathed the property to his cousin Jean-Jacques van Zuylen van Nyevelt (1752-1846) of the catholic branch in the Southern Netherlands. In 1890, De Haar was inherited by Jean-Jacques' grandson Etienne Gustave Frédéric Baron van Zuylen van Nyevelt van de Haar (1860-1934), who married Baroness Hélène de Rothschild. They contracted architect Pierre Cuypers in 1892 to rebuild the ruinous castle, which took 15 years.

In 1887, the inheritor of the castle-ruins, Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt, married Hélène de Rothschild, of theRothschild family. Fully financed by Hélène's family, the Rothschilds, the couple set about rebuilding the castle from its ruins. For the restoration of the castle, the famous architect Pierre Cuypers was hired. He would be working on this project for 20 years (from 1892 to 1912). The castle has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, of which only a small number on the ground floor have been opened to be viewed by the public. In the hall, Cuypers has placed a statue with his own image in a corner of the gallery on the first floor.

The castle was equipped by Cuypers with the most modern gadgets, such as electrical lighting with its own generator, and central heating by way of steam. This installation is internationally recognized as an industrial monument. The kitchen was for that period also very modern and still has a large collection of copper pots and pans and an enormous furnace of approximately 6 metres long, which is heated with peat or coals. The tiles in the kitchen are decorated with the coats of arms of the families De Haar and Van Zuylen, which were for this purpose especially baked in Franeker. Cuypers marked out the difference between the old walls and the new bricks, by using a different kind of brick for the new walls. For the interior Cuypers made a lot of use of cast iron.

In the castle one can see many details which reminds one of the family De Rothschild, such as the David stars on the balconies of the knight's hall, the motto of the family on the hearth in the knight's hall (A majoribus et virtute) and the coat of arms of the family right underneath on the hearth in the library.

The interior of the castle is decorated with richly ornamented woodcarving, which reminds one of the interior of a Roman Catholic church. This carving was made in the workshop of Cuypers in Roermond. The place where later also the interiors of many Roman Catholic churches were made, designed by Cuypers. Cuypers even designed the tableware. The interior is also furnished with many works of the Rothschild collections, including beautiful old porcelain from Japan and China, and several old Flemish tapestries and paintings with religious illustrations. A showpiece is a carrier coach of the woman of a Shogun from Japan. There is only one more left in the world, which stands in a museum in Tokyo. Many Japanese tourists come to De Haar to admire exactly this coach, which was donated from the Rothschilds collections.

Surrounding the castle there is a park, designed by Hendrik Copijn, for which Van Zuylen ordered 7000 fully grown trees. Because these could not be transported through the city of Utrecht, Van Zuylen bought a house and tore it down. The park contains many waterworks and a formal garden which reminds one of the French gardens of Versailles. During the Second World War many of the gardens were lost, because the wood was used to light fires, and the soil was used to grow vegetables upon. At this time, the gardens are restored in their old splendor.

For the decoration of the park, the village Haarzuilens, except for the town church, was broken down. The inhabitants were moved to a place a kilometer further up, where a new Haarzuilens arose, where they lived as tenants of the lord of the castle. This new village was also built in a pseudo-medieval style, including a rural village green. The buildings were for the most part designed by Cuypers and his son Joseph Cuypers.