After a New City-Break Destination? 5 Reasons to Visit Minsk
Take inspiration from the European Games and head to the Belarusian capital.
30 June 2019
All Credits: PA
Minsk, which is currently hosting the multi-sport European Games, is city ready to shatter all the inevitable, post-Soviet preconceptions.
In fact, with its hot summers, safe streets and spectacular blend of Lenin statues and thriving, late-night café culture, the Belarusian capital is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets.
Better yet, recent changes mean foreign nationals can now enter the country visa-free for up to 30 days – a move sure to raise the attraction of a city which is making the most of its rare opportunity in the spotlight. Here are five reasons to visit Minsk this summer…
1. The nightlife
Faithfully rebuilt in a Stalinist style after 80% of its buildings were damaged in the Second World War, Minsk’s wide avenues and tree-lined boulevards throng with bars and discos until well after midnight. The city’s young population congregate by the banks of the River Svislach, where the music and dancing generally spills out onto the street.
2. The monuments
In common with other former Soviet cities, Minsk removed most of its monolithic statues after it was freed from the shackles of Communism. But more than most of its neighbours, it seems determined to continue to showcase a major aspect of its history, with Lenin still presiding dramatically over Independence Square. Old Soviet knick-knacks, from fridge magnets to fake astronaut suits, are freely available at the city’s many outdoor markets.
3. The food
Forget all those notions of hard dumplings and beetroot soup. Belarus is passionate about it cuisine, which can only be described as nouvelle-Soviet: The dumplings and beetroot soup remain, but they have been modernised almost beyond recognition. Pavement eateries and rustic, subterranean restaurants proliferate – and none of them will even come close to breaking the budget.
4. The parks
Minsk is a remarkably green city and its parks, with their picturesque fountains and long, leafy avenues, provide a perfect opportunity to escape from the summer sun and take a peaceful stroll. Gorky Park features a permanent, full-sized funfair, Victory Park boasts the Isle of Birds nature reserve, and Loshitsky Park, historic home of some of the country’s most prestigious families, provides glimpses of its long and illustrious past.
5. The culture
The Social Realist paintings in the National Art Museum are something to behold, but Minsk’s young and vibrant population is best represented by the huge street murals which fringe the city’s recently-resurrected Kastrycnickaja Street, in the shadows of Dinamo Stadium. There’s even an entire Soviet tower block re-painted in garish colours, as if to emphasise Minsk’s desire to shake off its staid, grey stereotypes and show the world its dazzling side.