Top historic sites in Minsk

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

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

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.