The city of Minsk is the capital of Belarus and can be quite the experience to get to grips with. A European capital now, it hearkens back heavily to its Soviet times, the KGB building is rather hard to miss, and the inhabitants still talk about spies, wire taps and informants.
Minsk is an interesting place indeed, some call it Communist chic, or cappuccino communism, there are gray Communist-style monolith buildings around the place, but a new nightclub may just be opening tonight with a thumping soundtrack of drum’n'bass, dubstep or whatever other particular niche it’s catering to.
When you walk around the city and you interact with its inhabitants, you get a certain feeling that Minsk has the attitude of a survivor, having come back from the dead several times across its many hundreds of years of history. Actually the city is almost a thousand years old, having been founded in September 1067.
The city is something of an island of independence, having resisted influences from the US and the EU, it is still very Soviet in look and in feel, feels a bit cocooned.
The Soviet looks stems from the fact that after it was basically reduced to rubble after the Second World War, Moscow architects got a blank slate to transform the remains of the city into a model Soviet city. The idea of monumental classicism was transformed into what looked like a worker’s utopia. The wide boulevards, expansive squares and massive proportions of the buildings in the center of the city will impress you, however as you study them more and more, they start to take on something of an oppressive weight. The greyness of the whole thing is taken away somewhat once night comes and the artificial light starts glowing, the buildings are rather well illuminated and this softens their image just a bit.
Considering what we’ve been talking about, it’s pretty clear that Minsk doesn’t have a lot of tourist attractions, besides the KGB Headquarters and a few other buildings – some of them museums and churches – the best way of enjoying this interesting piece of Europe is by taking a leaf out of the locals’ book, and hang out in cafes and parks.
Tags: belarus, capital of belarus, kgb headquarters, minsk, trip
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