It is a well-known fact that Minsk has preserved its Soviet legacy much better than many other capitals of ex-USSR.
What places in the Belarusian capital should every fan of the Soviet flair visit, check in and photograph?
Here are the ones that should definitely be on your list!
1. Independence Avenue
Independence Avenue, or Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci, is one of the longest streets in Europe. It is a candidate into the UNESCO World Heritage List and a unique example of a Stalin Empire style.
When walking down it you will feel the spirit of the USSR has not been lost here yet. On the other hand, you will enjoy modern boutiques, shops, cafes and restaurants.
Independence Avenue consists of three parts stretching across the whole city, but pay special attention to the first part of the avenue from Independence Square to Victory Square.
Visit the Central Post Office to send a postcard to friends or drop at Gorky Park to recharge your batteries and relax. Another spot which is worth visiting is the National Art Museum in Lenina Street with its rich collection of socialist realism art.
2. Minsk City Gates
Everyone who arrives in Minsk by train will see Minsk City Gates in the first place.
The architectural complex in front of the Central Railway Station was built in the early 1950s and is one of the landmarks of the city.
The towers resemble traditional wooden towers of an ancient castle, which used to be at an entrance gate to a town. One of the towers is famous for the 3.5 m trophy German clock, the largest clock in Belarus.
Pay attention to the impressive sculptures on the four sides of the towers – it seems they keep order in the city from the towers.
3. Lakomka confectionery store
Lakomka opened in Minsk in 1952.
Back then it was a special place as there were few cafes, and many people used to go there for a cup of coffee and a cake.
In 65 years Lakomka has become the most recognizable and popular confectionery store in the capital. The shop has recently re-opened after a reconstruction, and there appeared a seating area and a coffee shop.
If you’re lucky to find an empty seat by the window, grab it and enjoy the views of the main avenue sipping tea and savouring fresh cakes.
Did we also mention it is a perfect place to buy sweets and chocolate for souvenirs?
4. National Opera and Ballet Theatre
The theatre is a fine example of Soviet constructivism of the 1930s built by the Joseph Langbard’s project. The building was restored in 2009 and is definitely one of the most beautiful constructions in Minsk.
We advise not only to contemplate the exterior facades, but also visit a performance.
Tourists are often pleasantly surprised to learn that the tickets to an opera or a ballet in Minsk are far less expensive than in Moscow or European capital.
There is often a full house, so it is a good idea to purchase tickets in advance.
5. House-museum of the First Congress of PSDLP
This small wooden building on the bank of Svislach is one of the oldest museums of Minsk, opened in 1923. The museum’s permanent exposition introduces visitors to the history of Minsk in late XIX-early XX century.
The house-museum of the First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party used to be extremelly popular in Soviet times.
Hundreds of people went there for excursions, school kids were accepted into pioneer movement, political meetings were held. Annually the museum was visited by up to 800,000 people.
Of course, it has all changed now. But don’t miss a visit to this cradle of communism – without this building it would have never existed.
6. GUM, the Soviet Harrod’s
GUM stands for the “main universal store”.
In Soviet times people went to GUM not only for shopping, but also to spend time like in a museum. The building was constructed in 1951, and it marked its 65th anniversary last year.
GUM is still one of the most visited stores in Minsk. Even now, when dozens of supermarkets are opened in Minsk, many people prefer GUM, because only there one can buy made-in-Belarus goods.
The store is interesting not only for the choice of goods, but also for the rich interior and high ceilings richly decorated with plasterwork.
7. Central Post office
This remarkable building was constructed without any cranes – only with the help of manforce – in 4 years. Stained-glass windows were created before the 1980 Summer Olympics.
Drop in at the post office and don’t forget to send a postcard from Belarus to your friends!
8. Museum of Zair Azgur
Zair Azgur is a prominent Belarusian sculptor of the Soviet period. The holder of many honours and awards, he created the reliefs for The National Opera and Ballet Theatre.
He also crafted a series of portrait busts of war heroes and military figures during the 1940s.
These impressive art pieces are all featured in his museum now.
The place skillfully combines past and present – it gets extremelly crowded during the Night of museums and the other events like film screenings.
9. Central House of Officers
Central House of Officers is one of the few buildings in Minsk that had survived WWII.
The building looks very festive from any side – and there’s even a tank where tourists like to take pictures in front of it!
The left wing of the Central House of Officers was built in the cathedral that had stood there before. The legend says that the right wing was constructed from the Jewish tombstones.
10. Cafe in Tsentralny
It might seem this place is a little inappropriate to the order of the Independence Avenue, but its atmosphere is unique!
In the evenings all sorts of public gathers here to taste cheap beer and watch the city’s main street. Recently rumours came that the cafe is expecting a big makeover but locals and fans hope is will not ruin the place.
If you come here for a drink, do not forget to turn around and explore the wall decorations and bas-reliefs portraying Soviet people during harvest season.
Of course, the list above is not complete – there are other interesting Soviet-style places to visit in Minsk. Take your time to discover them all!
By Margarita Tishutina for BelarusFeed.