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1. Architectural heritage
The architectural heritage of Belarus is unique. Some of the oldest architectural monuments of Belarus date back to the 12th Century. Christianity and different art trends have played their part in shaping the architecture of Belarus, with fine examples of Roman and Gothic, Baroque and Classic, Modern and Eclectic styles to be found across the country. Here you can find Orthodox and Catholic churches and medieval castles side-by-side.
The most popular monuments of architecture include:
Belarus has a very green landscape. Natural vegetation covers 93% of the land and a third of all green landscape is forest.
28 types of trees can be found in Belarusian forests. They include pine, spruce, birch, oak, aspen and poplar.
There are more than 30 000 lakes and rivers in Belarus. The large Polesye marshland is to be found in the south of the country along the Pripyat River.
Several areas of Belarus which contain unique landscape, rare plants and animal species have been designated as National Parks and Reserves.
The most well-known of these are:
Options for visitors to experience Belarusian nature at first hand include agro-tourism and hunting.
Today Belarus has over 2,000 farm estates which are available for tourist stays with accommodation provided by private owners. Most of these are located in picturesque localities, near National Parks. They usually reflect Belarusian traditions of the countryside life-style, but some are built in a modern eco-style idiom.
For the hunter-visitor, Belarus provides special areas for regulated hunting. The hunting of wild boar, deer, elk, wolf, duck, goose, grouse and other forms of game, is possible. There is also carefully regulated hunting for the European bison, the population of which has increased in recent years.
3. Military history
Belarusian statehood goes back centuries to the early medieval Slavonic principalities of Polotsk and Turov which date from the 9th — 10th centuries. In the Middle Age today’s Belarus was known as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Its official language was Old Belarusian. In the 14th — 15th centuries the Grand Duchy of Lithuania became one of the largest States in Europe and was an important political player in the region.
The name Belarus (formerly Byelorussia or White Russia) is comparatively recent. It came into common parlance after Belarusian territories were annexed by Tsarist Russia by the end of the 18th century.
Belarus has endured many wars. One of the most devastating was the Second World War, which we know as The Great Patriotic War, when our country suffered the dreadful loss of a quarter of its population. There are many places across the country commemorating those who died in this war.
The most well-known are:
4. Arts and Culture
Belarus has much to offer to those who are interested in culture and the arts. In Minsk itself highly recommended attractions include:
5. Belarusian national cuisine
No visit to Belarus would be complete without sampling Belarusian cuisine. Belarus is an important agricultural producer known for the quality and naturalness of its food. Wholesomeness, authenticity and integrity are features of our national cuisine as it has evolved over the centuries.
Belarusian cuisine today is based predominantly on meats (pork, poultry, veal, beef etc.) and various local vegetables typical of each of the regions in which they are grown. Many national dishes require various kinds of flour made of rye, wheat, oats, buckwheat, peas and their combinations.
Traditional Belarusian “black” bread baked from rye flour is regarded as one of the prides of our national cuisine.
Potatoes are a staple of our national cuisine, and this is reflected in the large number of potato dishes – more than 300! – which are known in Belarus.
Belarusian cuisine makes extensive use of mushrooms and berries, local spices and dressings.
To whet the appetites of our visitors, we offer many memorable dishes. Some of the tastiest are:
poliuka (thin soup made of cereals and mushrooms)
salyanka (based on broth. Pickles, olives, are the main components of any salyanka. There are meat and mushrooms salyankas)
haladnik (cold soup based on kefir with beetroot or dock broth, fresh cucumber, onion and dill, chopped boiled egg, sour cream) etc.
draniki (fried pancakes made of grated potatoes)
machanka (meat and flour sauce with herbs, ribs and sausages served with pancakes)
kupaty (grilled sausage)
babka (baked grated potatoes)
bliny (pancakes) etc.
European and Asian cuisine is also to be found in Belarusian cafes and restaurants.
As a memento of your visit, you will find unique Belarusian crafts, linen, foodstuffs and beverages. These include:
- dolls made of straw and of linen fibre;
- small wooden boxes inlayed with straw;
- table linen and bedspreads;
- many varieties of rye bread;
- Belovezhskaya vodka; and,
- many other beautiful and tasty souvenirs!