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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.