Many buildings in Minsk have exciting history and big tourism potential. A common belief that there is nothing to see in the Belarusian capital is not true, a PhD and author of a book about Minsk Fabien Bellat thinks.
The French art history expert spent about a year and a half studying the Soviet architecture of Minsk and wrote a book about it.
“I was amazed that most of the buildings of 1920-1930s were designed by one architect (Josef Langbard – note). More travelers today are interested in Eastern Europe. I am sure that Minsk will charm many of them if it reveals its history,” Bellat said.
So Fabien suggested some curious ways to do it!
1. A tour of the House of Government
The building could be a starting point for those willing to explore the Soviet heritage of the capital. Its interiors deserve to be seen by tourists, the historian believes. Especially the Italian futurism frescoes.
By the way a 7-metre Lenin statue put up in front of the building in 1933 was the highest monument of the Soviet leader in the USSR at that time.
2. Tours of the Opera and Ballet House
Currently the theatre opens its doors once a year for a limited number of visitors.
“Look at the examples of Vienna or Paris Operas, how popular they are with tourists. Tours of the Opera House of Minsk could be equally enjoyable,” Bellat thinks.
3. A shopping tour of GUM
Fabien describes the building simply as exceptional.
“It reminds of what we did in France in 1900s. This is a brilliant aesthetic experiment. Look, the round windows of GUM are exactly the same as the windows of the wings of the Louvre.”
The tour of the department store is also the most pragmatic in the list: you get some knowledge, pleasure and shop for souvenirs!
4. Former industrial buildings in Yakuba Kolasa square
“Only in the Soviet Union plants reminded palaces,” the expert says.
By the way, city plans to turn ex-plants into the offices of Belarusian IT companies. So there’s hope they will be open to public!
5. A tour of the KGB building
This is probably the most thrilling of Fabien’s ideas and also the most difficult to organize in practice.
“Its interiors are very elegant, but I’ve only seen them in the pictures.”
So which of the tours would you join?