Polotsk (Belarus)

Ancient Polotsk is located 100 km northwest of Vitebsk. These places are mentioned in the “Tale of Bygone Years” under the year 862. The name of the city was given by the Plotva River, which in its vicinity flows into the Western Dvina River. Polotsk was a major military center, and from the 10th century – the capital of the Polotsk principality. In the 10-11 centuries, powerful defensive structures called the “Upper Castle” were erected on a high city hill, by the 17th century a new powerful fortress was built in the city, which was called the “Lower Castle”. Some buildings of both “castle complexes” have survived to this day.

According to Computerminus.com, the hallmark of the city is St. Sophia Cathedral middle of the 11th century. The cathedral was built in the image of the Kyiv St. Sophia Cathedral and became the most grandiose building of the city, among other things, it also performed defense functions. The cathedral housed the princely tomb. In the 18th century, the cathedral was blown up, but by 1750, on the basis of the surviving foundation, it was rebuilt in the Baroque style. Inside the St. Sophia Cathedral, you can see a hall with an organ and the Museum of the History of Architecture of the Cathedral, which demonstrates a model of its original appearance.

In the 12th century, the Spaso-Efrosinevsky convent was founded in Polotsk. It is the oldest surviving monastery in the country. It was founded by St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk – the granddaughter of Vladimir Monomakh, who became the first woman in Russia to be canonized as a saint. Efrosinya became a nun at the age of 12, and throughout her life she was engaged in education. All the monasteries that were built at her request were significant cultural centers. The first major building of the Spaso-Efrosinevsky Monastery was the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral. It was erected in 1161 by master John. The relics of St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk rest in the cathedral and fragments of cathedral frescoes of the 12th century have been preserved. In 1897 the Holy Cross Cathedral was built in the monastery. Inside it is a copy of the gilded altar cross of St. Euphrosyne, which she granted to the Transfiguration Cathedral of the Savior and which disappeared without a trace during the Great Patriotic War.

In 2000, between St. Sophia and Spaso-Efrosinevsky Cathedrals, a monument was erected to the patroness of Belarus – St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk.

In Polotsk, the remains of the Borisoglebsky monastery of the 12th century, the huge boulder “Borisov stone” with inscriptions of the 12th century, the “house of Peter I” of 1692, the Jesuit Collegium of 1750, the Epiphany Monastery of 1779 and the Lutheran church of the early 20th century have also been preserved in Polotsk. In the vicinity of the city, settlements and settlements of the 6th-8th centuries were excavated. All historical sights of Polotsk are under the protection of the National Polotsk Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve which was founded in 1967. The museum-reserve includes 11 museums, whose expositions are located in the old buildings listed above.

Turov, Gomel region (Belarus)

The village of Turov is one of the oldest settlements in Belarus. It is located in the Belarusian Polesye in the western part of the Gomel region. Back in the 9th-12th centuries, two large East Slavic tribes lived on the territory of the Gomel region – the Dregovichi and the Radimichi. At the end of the first millennium they formed a principality centered on Turov, founded by the Scandinavian Tur in the 10th century. The main architectural landmark of Turov is the Church of All Saints.. This is a real monument of wooden architecture of the early 19th century. Near the church there are two stone crosses under 3 m high. There are only about ten such crosses on Belarusian soil. It is believed that they were erected to protect the land from disasters. Turov crosses, according to legend, sailed back in the 10th century along the Pripyat River. Another cross stands at the Borisoglebsk cemetery. It is interesting that the crosses have asymmetrical rounded shapes and are made in the form of a trefoil, like the Scandinavian crosses. In addition, in Turov, on the Castle Hill, where a stone temple was once located, there is an archaeological site covered with a glass tent, where the remains of the settlement, ancient weapons and ancient household items are presented.

The administrative center is located in Turov National park “Pripyatsky”. The park was created in 1969. Its area is more than 80 thousand hectares. This is the only place on the planet where primeval floodplain oak forests have been preserved. In addition, there are hornbeam forests and more than 30 lakes in the protected area of ​​the park. It is home to 45 species of mammals, 265 species of birds and 37 species of fish. Visitors to the park are offered photo tours with the possibility of shooting animals, tours to observe the fauna of the park, walking, car and water routes. Of particular interest are water routes along the Pripyat River on a motor ship. In addition, fishing and hunting tours are organized in the park.

Polotsk (Belarus)