What to See in Brest (Belarus)

By | July 13, 2022

In the southwestern part of Belarus on the border with Poland is one of the most famous Belarusian cities – Brest. It stands on the banks of the Mukhavets River, 349 km from Minsk. For the first time, the settlement of Berestye is mentioned in the Tale of Bygone Years under the year 1019. It was a major trade and transport center. In 1319, Brest was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and became one of its largest cities, where numerous monasteries were located and even had its own mint. In the 14th century Brest was destroyed by the Crusaders. In 1596, after the formation of the Commonwealth, the Brest Church Union was signed in the city on the creation of the Uniate Church in Belarus.. In 1657 Brest was again destroyed, but by the Swedes. In 1795, Brest became part of Russia and after the war with Napoleon was moved to a new place not far from the previous one. By 1842, the construction of powerful fortifications was completed here. The Brest Fortress became heroically famous during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. During the fighting, it was destroyed, but nevertheless delayed the Nazi attack on Russia for several months. In 1965, the Brest Fortress was awarded the title of “Fortress-Hero”.

The historical part of the city is located on the right bank of the Mukhavets, and on the left bank there are modern areas. The main attraction of the Old City is memorial complex “Brest Fortress – Hero”. According to Thesciencetutor.org, the Brest Fortress was built at the confluence of the Western Bug and Mukhavets rivers. It was surrounded by an earthen rampart up to 10 m high, behind which channels were dug and bridges were built. The total area of fortifications was 4 square meters. km, it could accommodate 12 thousand people. The thickness of the fortress walls reached 2 m. The center of the fortress was the Nicholas Church, which was built in the period from 1856 to 1879. In 1864, the fortress was reconstructed and the length of its fortifications reached 30 m. In 1918, the Brest Peace Treaty was signed on its territory in the White Palace. According to the results of the Riga Treaty of 1921, Brest was ceded to Poland.. The Brest Fortress was significantly destroyed during the Nazi offensive in 1939, when German troops invaded Polish territories. 10 days after the conquest of Brest, the Germans handed it over to the USSR in accordance with the Non-Aggression Pact signed between Germany and the USSR in 1939. By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Brest Fortress had already lost its defensive significance, but in 1941 it was one of the first to take the blow of the Nazi invaders. From 1969 to 1971, a memorial complex was created on the territory of the fortress. Today, the complex includes the ruins of the White Palace, from which the Ceremonial Square begins, leading to the memorial plates of mass graves. Near the graves, the Eternal Flame burns, a 100 m high bayonet-obelisk and a monument in the form of a warrior’s head against the background of an unfolded banner rise. The memorial has musical and sound accompaniment.

In Brest there are Orthodox churches that were included in the list of historical and cultural values of the country. These include the St. Simeon Cathedral of the late 19th century with a majestic three-tier iconostasis, the St. Nicholas Cathedral of 1856-1879, the Nikolaev Brotherhood Church of 1904-1906, the Exaltation of the Cross Church of 1856 and the Holy Resurrection Cathedral.

In addition, be sure to visit the Regional Museum of Local Lore, the Museums “History of the City”, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum “Berestye”.

Not far from Brest is the city of Kobrin. Its history is inextricably linked with the name of the great Russian commander Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov. As a token of gratitude for the suppression of the uprising of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Catherine II presented Suvorov with the keys to the city along with the Kobrin Key estate. The commander stayed in these places from 1797 to 1800. Now the monument to Suvorov, the house-museum of A.V. Suvorov and the Kobrin Military History Museum. The village of Kamenets is located 39 km northeast of Brest.. Here, on the left bank of the Lesnaya River, a monument of defensive architecture of the late 13th century has been preserved – the tower “Belaya Vezha”, by the name of which Belovezhskaya Pushcha was most likely named. The thickness of the walls of the 30-meter tower reaches 2.5 m, the outer diameter is 13.5 m. Since 1960, it has housed a branch of the Brest Regional Museum of Local Lore. In 1988, a monument was erected in Kamenets to the architect Oleksa, whom the Volyn prince Vladimir Vasilkovich sent in 1276 to lay a fortress on the northern borders of the principality.

To the north of Brest, on the territory of 164.5 thousand hectares, the National Park “Belovezhskaya Pushcha” is located, which protects the most extensive and oldest forest in Europe – Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The park covers the territories of the Brest and Grodno regions on the border with Poland. For the first time these places are mentioned in the Ipatiev Chronicle in 983. In the Middle Ages, Belovezhskaya Pushcha served as a place for royal hunting. This protected area received the status of a national park in 1991. The area of the forest massif Belovezhskaya Pushcha is 87.4 thousand hectares. Its uniqueness lies in its age, which is about a thousand years old. Some of the trees in the park are over 600 years old. There are about 55 species of large mammals, more than 200 species of birds in the park, 40 of which are listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus, and about 120 species of trees. The territory of the Pushcha is dominated by coniferous forests, but there are also pockets of broad-leaved forests and swamps. Of predators, the wolf, fox, lynx, pine marten live here, of large ungulates – wild boar, deer, roe deer and elk. In Belovezhskaya Pushcha, the population of bison (European bison), exterminated during hunting in the 20s of the 20th century, was restored. 24 species of fish live in the reservoirs of the park, the most numerous are pike, roach, tench, ruff and perch. The administrative center of the park is located in the village of Kamenyuki, 60 km from Brest. The world-famous village of Viskuli is located in the center of Belovezhskaya Pushcha., where in the residence of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1991 the “Belovezhskaya” agreement was signed on the withdrawal of independent republics from the USSR. The residence was built in the middle of the 20th century as a place of rest for state and party leaders and as a great place for hunting. The residence today can be visited by any tourist. The Museum of Nature is open in the park, which presents exhibits of most of the animals living in the forest and plants growing in the forest, as well as open enclosures with various species of animals in their natural habitat. The National Park “Belovezhskaya Pushcha” offers hiking, horse and car routes lasting up to several days. One of the most popular routes is the ancient “royal road”, along which the Russian tsars went to the hunting palace, now located in Poland. There are three hotels, two guest houses and a sports complex on the territory of the forest. Waterfowl hunting and sport fishing are organized on Lake Vygonovskoye. Since 1991, hunting tourism has been carried out in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

Near Belovezhskaya Pushcha is the city of Volchin – the birthplace of the last king of the Commonwealth, Stanislav August Poniatowski. In the city there is the Trinity Church of the 18th century, where in 1938 the ashes of Stanislav Augustus were transferred. The city of Pruzhany is also located not far from Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Among vacationers, the estate “Pruzhanska” is very popular, offering the so-called “rural rest”. In the estate there are wooden houses built in the national style. Tourists can go on water trips, go horseback riding, hunting and fishing, as well as taste national cuisine. In Pruzhany themselves, historical sights have been preserved – the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral of 1880 and the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary of the 20th century. In the Pruzhany district near the village

Ruzhany there is a biological reserve of republican significance “Ruzhanskaya Pushcha”. The reserve was created to preserve a unique natural complex, including oak forests, hornbeam and linden groves, where there are plants listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus, many mushrooms and a wide variety of animals. Roach, pike, perch, bream, ide and crayfish live in large quantities in the Zelvyanka River flowing through the reserve. It is important to know that hunting and fishing are prohibited on the territory of the reserve itself, hunting and fishing tours are only arranged from here. In the village of Ruzhany, tourists can see the palace complex 16-18 centuries, belonging to the Sapieha family. The first mention of Ruzhany dates back to 1552. At first, the Tyszkiewicz family owned Ruzhany, but the Sapiehas acquired it in 1598. A castle was erected here, which was badly damaged as a result of the war with the Swedes and internecine clashes. It was later rebuilt into a palace complex. The palace was built in the style of late baroque and classicism.

In the Pruzhany region there is also a hydrological reserve of republican significance Dikoe. Most of it belongs to the territory of the National Park “Belovezhskaya Pushcha”. The reserve protects the swamp systems of the region and, first of all, the Dikoye lowland swamp. Wild – one of the largest swamps in Europe with an area of ​​approximately 22 thousand hectares. The age of the swamp massif is slightly more than six thousand years. 14 species of plants listed in the Red Book of Belarus grow here, and 99 species of birds live.

Brest (Belarus)