Religious sites in 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

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

Sviato-Dukhov Monastery

Monastery of the Holy Spirit (Sviato-Dukhov Monastery) is a female Eastern Orthodox monastery in Vitebsk. The monastery was founded in the 1380s by Duchess Uliana of Tver, wife of Algirdas, Grand Duke of Lithuania. Algirdas ordered to construction of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in this monastery. About 1392–1393, after Algirdas" death, Uliania took the vows of schema in her monastery. From mid-17th centur ...
Founded: 1380s | Location: Vitebsk, 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

Corpus Christi Church

Niasvizh Catholic Corpus Christi church was built in 1587–1593 according to the design of the Italian architect Giovanni Maria Bernardoni at sponsorship of Mikołaj Krzysztof Radziwiłł. The Jesuit church in Niasvizh was the first construction in Baroque in the whole territory of Rzecz Pospolita. The temple interior is richly decorated with paintings. The frescoes were performed in 1750-1760s with part ...
Founded: 1587-1593 | Location: Niasvizh, Belarus

St. Francis Xavier Cathedral

St. Francis Xavier Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Hrodna (Grodno). The construction of the church started in 1687. The completed building was consecrated in 1705 to St. Francis Xavier. The monastery was dissolved in 1773 and the church became a parish one. In 1990 it was granted the title of Minor basilica. Originally a Jesuit church, it became a cathedral in 1991, when the new diocese of Grodno was erected.
Founded: 1687-1705 | Location: Hrodna, Belarus

St. Sophia Cathedral

The Cathedral of Holy Wisdom in Polotsk was built by Prince Vseslav Briacheslavich between 1044-1066. It is first mentioned in the Voskresenskaia Chronicle under the year 1056. It is probably the oldest church in Belarus. The cathedral is, like the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, named after the Holy Wisdom of God. After building his own cathedral, Vseslav tried to seize the Kievan ...
Founded: 1044-1066 | Location: Polotsk, Belarus

Kalozha Church

The Kalozha church of Saints Boris and Gleb is the oldest extant structure in Hrodna. It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall. The church is a cross-domed building supported by six circular pillars. The ou ...
Founded: 1183 | Location: Hrodna, Belarus

Transfiguration Church

Transfiguration Church of the St. Euphrosine monastery is a well-preserved monument of Pre-Mongol Rus architecture. It was built between 1152 and 1161 by the Polatsk architect Ioann by the order of the princess St. Euphrosyne of Polatsk as a cathedral church of the Convent of the Saviour and St. Euphrosyne. In 1582, King Stefan Batory gave the church to the Order of Jesuits. In 1832, the church was placed under the Orthod ...
Founded: 1152 | Location: Polotsk, Belarus

Great Synagogue

The Great Synagogue of Hrodna was built from 1576 to 1580 by Santi Gucci, who designed a Wooden synagogue at Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe"s invitation. In 1887, the Hrodna Jews owned 88% of the commercial enterprises, 76% of the factories and workshops, and over 65% of the real estate in the city. Their property was estimated at 842,000 roubles at a time when the total sum of the city"s properties was 1,202,000 roubles ...
Founded: 1902 | Location: Hrodna, Belarus

Muravanka Fortified Church

Muravanka Fortified Church was built between 1516 and 1542. Together with earlier Suprasl" and Synkavichy churches it represents an original class of church-fortresses that appeared in Belarus in 15th-16th centuries.These are compact in plan, rectangular buildings flanked in the corners with towers. The top of the walls are fortified with mashykooli and shooting windows. There were cellars in the basement with water ...
Founded: 1516 | Location: Muravanka, Belarus

Synkavichy Fortified Church

The Church of St. Michael in Synkavichy is a Gothic church was built in 16th century. It is one of the first fortified churches in Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1880-1881, the temple was significantly reconstructed. In 1926, it was rebuilt as a Catholic church. In 1988-1990, it become Orthodox. This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2004. The defensive system of the church consists of four towe ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Synkavichy, Belarus

St. Nicholas Monastery

St. Nicholas Monastery Complex is situated in the Dnieper river valley, in a fenced territory. It consists of a number of stone buildings: the St. Nicholas and St. Onuphry Churches, a dwelling house (a hospital), a belfry and a fence with an entrance gate. The stone building of the St. Nicholas Church was erected on the place of a wooden church from 1669 to 1672. The church is a three-nave cross-dome basilica with an oct ...
Founded: 1669 | Location: Mahiljou, Belarus

Archangel Michael's Cathedral

The Archangel Michael"s Cathedral is a Belarusian orthodox cathedral church of the Eparchy of Turov located in Mozyr. The church was built in 18th century as a Catholic church of Franciscan monastery in late baroque style in the form of two-towered three-nave basilica. In 1745 Marszałek Kazimierz Oskierka start the building of new stone Franciscan (in Poland called 'Bernardine') monastery with a big c ...
Founded: 1745 | Location: Mozyr, Belarus

Troitsky Markov Monastery

Svyato-Troitsky Markov Monastery (Holy Trinity Markov Monastery) is one of two modern monasteries in Vitebsk (second one is female Svyato-Dukhov Monastery). Markov Monastery was founded in the 14th-15th century. A legend indicates that a certain Mark found a place to stay alone and built a chapel there. After he was joined by like-minded persons, who formed the monastery. The monastery existed till 1576, after it was abo ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Vitebsk, Belarus

Biaroza Monastery Ruins

In the 17th century, the village of Biaroza belonged to the Sapieha, a powerful magnate family in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, who founded a fortified monastery and a palace in the village. In 1648, the monastery was presented to the Carthusian monks who came from the Italian town of Treviso and settled in the monastery. The cornerstone of the monastery was laid in 1648 by the monastery"s founder, Kazimierz L ...
Founded: 1648 | Location: Biaroza, 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.