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Faces Of Gomel. 4 Scenarios For Weekend In Southernmost City Of Belarus

Gomel never fails to surprise a visitor any time of the year, regardless of what activities one is looking for. We suggest four totally different routes that guarantee an unforgettable weekend in the city.

Scenario 1: Lazy tourist  

Don’t be ashamed to admit that you are a lazy tourist since this type is rarely left disappointed. Suppose you left the train station and have all time in the world to explore the city.

Start walking slowly along Lenin Avenue that leads straight to Homiel Palace & Park Ensemble (52.422188, 31.016691). The Palace of Rumiancavy-Paskievicy has enough attractions to keep you busy the whole day.

The ensemble on the high bank of the Sozh was laid down in 1777 by Count Rumyantsev-Zadunaysky. This is the largest museum in the city with artifacts left by Russian military commanders, politicians, and emperors.

The latter even left their autographs here — the handwriting of Nicholas I and Alexander II can be spotted in the Book of Honorary Guests of the Gomel Palace.

Having seen enough of the treasures of monarchs, go down to Sovetskaya Street to the Gomel State Circus. The futuristic building resembles a flying saucer and consumes as much electricity in one show as entire pre-revolutionary Gomel did not consume in a year.

 

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Visiting the city in the summer? Watch a street concert at a nearby fountain and don’t foregt to take a selfie with a statue of the famous Soviet clown Karandash, who once performed on the stage of Gomel Circus.

Finish your day by dropping in one of many restaurants or resto-bars on buzzing Sovetskaya street.

Scenario 2: Romantic cat 

Heading to Gomel with your other half? Take our advice and go there in the summer. Enjoy all the warmth of the southernmost city of Belarus and admire the blooming chestnuts along the streets and avenues.

Start your romantic journey near the Palace of Rumiancavy-Paskievicy, only instead of studying the exhibits –explore the surroundings. First, go down to the Swan Pond (52.421142, 31.015477) to watch white and rare black swans from an exquisite ancient bridge.

By the way, once this oblong pond was a tributary of the Sozh river and was called Gomeyuk. That is one of the versions of Gomel’s name origin.

Don’t miss the bronze monument of Fyodor Paskevich, Russian lieutenant general and one of the palace owners (52.420566, 31.016646). Paskevich is accompanied by his hunting dogs Marko and Lord. 

There was a rumour that Paskevich loved dogs more than humans. Evidence of this is two granite blocks nearby, under which Paskevich’s favourite hounds are buried.

What are the buildings on the horizon you see from the spot? These are the remnants of the first industrial enterprises of Gomel.

The pipe of the former sugar factory was turned into a watchtower with a stunning view of the city (52.423243, 31.015979). The other building now works as a winter garden with exotic plants and animals (52.418740, 31.013895).

After feeding friendly squirrels there, go down to the waterfront to walk along the river to the pier. (52.424285, 31.019710). This is the place where motor ships depart and ride along picturesque banks in the warmer months.

Scenario 3: Cultural immersion

If you have a keen interest in history and local lore, head to Pushkina Street.

The guides of Museum of Criminal Science (Pushkina St 1) will tell you about terrorizing local gangs of the freewheeling 1990s. In case World War II stories are more appealing to you, go to the Museum of Military Glory (Pushkina St 32).

You will also find the so-called ‘hunting lodge’ here, built in 1820-1822 in the manner of late Classicism (52.4283, 31.0183). Today it houses the Museum of History of Gomel.

In the archival documents the building is referred to as ‘the house for summer residence of Count Rumyantsev,’ who was absolutely indifferent to the hunt. It is still a mystery why the house got such a nickname.

Turn right to the Biletskogo Street, pass a small square and you will see the Administration of the Central District of Gomel. Until 1917 there was an authentic Russian tavern (52.426769, 31.016421).

The scale of the structure alone implies how Russian merchants and hussars revelled before the revolution.

To top your historical route with a true gem, get back to the river and go to the oldest building of the city — Old Believer Church of Illya (52.416792, 31.010491). The wooden structure was erected without a single nail in 1773-1774 and saw a lot.

Emelyan Pugachev, a Kozak who led a great rebellion in 1773-1775, came here to pray. Don’t try to get inside, the Old Believers will never allow an outsider to pass the threshold.

Scenario 4: We’re up all night for good fun

For the record, this scenario can be easily mixed with any of the above. There are many cozy places with delicious cuisine in Gomel, but we picked a couple of truly conceptual spots.

You think you’ve tried all possible Belarusian potato dishes? Go to the Budma tavern (Pryvakzalnaja St 3a), they serve at least ten types of draniki, not to mention kolduny, babka, fries and potato wedges that will prove Belarus still has a lot to surprise you.

And on Krestyanskaya Street, 14 there is a real time machine — the Staroye Vremya restaurant (the Old Times). Tiny details, be it a sign above the entrance or the toilet soapbox, hints at the bygone Soviet era. The menu is also authentic. Take, for instance, ‘Khrushchevsky’ salad named after the famous Soviet statesman.

But if you do not want to betray democracy in any way, head straight to Kvartirnik Bar (Biliecki spusk, 1). Local bands play here almost every night, and don’t be surprised too much when a bartender will greet you like an old friend with a high five while shaking a cocktail.

 

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If you’re up to a little quest, try to get into Vse kak on lubit bar (Everything he loves). It is located on Biletsky spusk, 4 (but we didn’t tell you that!). The security will ask for a password.

Unfortunately, we don’t know it, but you can ask the visitors leaving the bar or a friendly bartender from Kvartirnik Bar (yes, this is a clue). A mystery worth solving, right?


Text by Anton Ananich

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