For a month now travelers from 80 states can visit Belarus visa-free for 5 days. Looks like they are using the opportunity – some 4000 tourists have already tried the new option.
While travelling is clearly easy and affordable in 2000s, it’s interesting to glance back and see how foreigners explored Belarus when the country was much more closed, say in the times of USSR.
Here’s some rare historical footage of Germans, British, Poles and Indians exploring Minsk in 1950-70s.
1958: ‘Friendship train’ from GDR and tourist bus from London
A newsreel Savetskaya Belarus shows a group Germans on a trip to Belarus.
While they are called tourists, it is obvious the foreigners came rather on business than for pleasure.
The foreign guests meet representatives of Belarusian Institute of Potato Growing and visit an agricultural farm.
So they are probably business tourists, in modern terms!
Another archive video, made a year later, shows one more group of tourists from GDR. This time the Germans came to BSSR by ‘friendship train’.
People are seen getting off the train and crossing the rails at the railway station in Minsk.
Next, tourists are walking along the main street, right in the middle of the road! Probably it had been closed for traffic to make their excursion more comfortable.
Other tourists could be arriving by international buses that ran through the Belarusian capital, or during motor rallies.
“An elderly worker Burgen from Manchester was glad to be able to speak his native language in Minsk. Burgen came to Minsk not accidentally, but by London-Moscow bus that runs through Minsk now”, a 1958 newsreel said.
Minsk was included in the route of flamboyant English buses from 1957 until around September 1960.
1967: Minsk is a true European capital
A video from 1967 tells a story about tourists who visit Brest. The city has a good location on the crossroads of many bus and railway routes that connect Europe with Moscow.
An announcement in German can be heard – looks like there’s a train arriving from Germany!
“Every city tries to find something to impress foreign travelers”, a voice in the background comments.
One of the favourite places of interest for tourists in Belovezhskaya pushcha. Polish neighbors are always dear guests, the host says.
She also gives some curious numbers: over 200,000 travellers visit Brest each year.
The next picture shows Minsk and we can hear the host say: “Minsk is a real European capital.” Seems like the idea was in the air already in the 70s!
Chronicles of 1971 show tourists from all around the world: sportsmen, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists.
Tourists are taken on an excursion around Minsk, and they are surprised at how fast the city was reconstructed after the war.
“When you arrive in a country, it is very important how you look at it and it you wan to see something good,” a guest from India says.
The article was published in Russian by TUT.BY.