It is not a secret that most tourists to Belarus land in Minsk. But if you’ve already seen the whole of the Belarusian capital, and want a wider perspective, we suggest looking westwards to Grodno.
One of the country’s most ancient and beautiful cities has its doors opened for tourists from all over the world. And, by the way, visa is not required there for 10 days.
Day 1. Walk down the Sovetskaya Street
Start your city tour walking along the cobbled Sovetskaya Street, which has been preserved in an ideal state since 1938.
Sovetskaya is considered to be a visiting card of Grodno. It’s a nice place with European style 3-4 storey buildings and a flair of old times.
It’s known that the house was built in 1811 and housed a hotel for 100 years. In 1928, the local philanthropist Hon Peek bought that building and settled there.
Today’s owners of the Coffee House managed to preserve that special historical entourage. Go and check!
Day 2. Explore the architecture
It would be unforgivable to visit Grodno and not go on a tour of the local churches and castles.
Grodno is the capital of Belarusian Catholicism. It’s outstanding example is St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, or Farny Church. You simply wouldn’t be able to pass by without noticing it.
21-meter carved altar, one of the oldest tower clock in Europe, a powerful organ – all these things are worth seeing. The interior of the cathedral is absolutely gorgeous.
If you want to take a seat by the beginning of the service, be sure to get there early. The cathedral is usually full.
The exploration of Grodno would be incomplete without the Great Choral Synagogue. The dilapidated building was restored by local businessmen, and the synagogue’s prayer hall impresses with its scale and rich stucco molding.
You can also take a stroll around the Grodno castle. Enjoy imposing views of the Neman river opening from its walls and see where the first settlements were once located.
The city actually has two castles – the Old and the New. You can learn more history at a local museum and buy nice souvenirs there.
Day 3. Time for unusual museums
Set on a tour around local museums on the third day. Some are quite unique!
Did you know that are only ten iron museums in the world, and one of them is in Grodno?
It’s possible to see the evolution of iron works from the first steampunk units to works of art from modern days. The owner of the exposition is the famous local collector Oleg Yersh. There is also a shop in the museum where you can buy antiques.
The oldest pharmacy in Belarus, which has recently celebrated its 300th anniversary, is also a museum. Its exposition includes medicines, medical instruments and documents of the 17-20th centuries. But in case you need modern drugs, you can easily buy them, too – the pharmacy still works!
Another cusious local sight is the Watchtower of the fire department and Fire Museum.
The tower was built at the beginning of the 20th century – it’s the only example of such architecture in Belarus. Get there by noon to see a fireman Vasily who rises up to the tower and plays the trumpet exactly at 11.58 a.m.
The some of the hallmarks of the museum’s collection include the diarama of the blazing city and a portrait of a girl with an enigmatic smile, called the local Mona Lisa, on the wall of the fire station.
Day 4. Enjoy the nature around
The fourth day is ideal for going outside the town and explore the surroundings.
Before starting, don’t forget to know the territory you can explore during your visa-free trip. To be sure, check all the regulations concerning visa-free trips to Grodno region.
First of all, you can go to Augustow Canal. It’s a hydraulic engineering installation from the 19th century. There are only two other canals like this in the world, one in the UK and the other in Sweden.
It’s a great place for outdoor activities in summer and enjoying the nature at any time. The canal crosses two landscape reserves.
Read also: Guide To Bird Watching In Belarus
Day 5. Go artsy
When visiting the cultural capital of Belarus, take some time to visit… theatres.
The building of the first one regularly gets into the tops of the most unusual Soviet buildings, so it should be at least seen. But you’d better go inside and visit one of the excellent performances (find the playbill here).
Want more impressions? You can see plays by Shakespeare, Goethe’s Faust, and Russian classics in the very original productions at the local puppet theatre. By the way, the building of the theater dates back to the 18th century.
Hope you’ll enjoy it!