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20 Jan

Ákos István Posta (Hungary)
Reggeli Újság, 2.9.2015

World Cultural Heritage in Belarus

Belarus is unfortunately outside the focus point of the tourists, although rich in natural and cultural values. Because of the similar history any Hungarian or Romanian tourist can feel there like home in this post – Soviet country.

In the country, laying in a geopolitically especially interesting position, between the EU, Russia and Ukraine, at the crossing point of the cultures, EU – citizens must have visa. As a symbolic measure, from this year, people can stay up to 3 days without visa at the Belavezhkaya puscha, World Cultural Heritage destination, laying  at the Polish border. In Hungarian language it is better known by its Polish name „Bieloweza forrest the last primeval forest of Europe. The contracts about the dissolution of the Soviet Union were also signed here.

Not only does Belarus have this natural heritage, but several cultural are: the Struve Geodetic Arc, connecting several countries and the two castles of the Radziwil noble family: Mir and Nezvish.

The Struve Geodetic Arc connects 10 countries between Norway and Ukraine: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. It was constructed by the astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Georg von Struve, who used it for geological dimensioning. With this triangulation chain he could prove many theoretical problems in reality.

Among the invisibly connected points, especially interesting is Haparanda – Tornio, a city divided between Sweden and Finland but functioning as one agglomeration. The local element of the Struve Arc is the church of Alatornio.

In Belarus there are more Struve Geodetic Arc points protected by the UNESCO, but the most interesting World Cultural Heritages are Mir and Nezvish, the two castles, 30 km away from each other each 100 km from Minsk.

Both castles were owned by the Radziwils, Nezvish was the main residence of the noble family, who played a significant role in the history of Belarus for centuries, while Mir had defensive military functions up to the Nineteenth century.

It shows the significant role of the Radziwil family that the first Belarusian book was printed in their Nezvish estate.

Although, both castles had different functions, nowadays both are flagship of the Belarusian tourist industry. They are preferred y those, who want cultural adventures and / or experience romantic moments. Nezvish was nationalized by the Soviet power in 1939 and functioned as a convalescent hospital till 1994. Since then it is under the control of the Ministry of Culture of Belarus. In 2005 it had been declared as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, which empowered Nezvish, and the state established it as a prominent touristic venue.

Mir is since 2000 part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Mir decorates the 50 000 ruble note, Nezvish the 100 000.

In both fortresses there are museums. The material exhibited in Mir is valuable, but at the end of the exhibition there are also some items which are inappropriate and bring down the quality. Example plastic food – imitation in the bigger part of the exhibition and totally uninteresting objects exhibited in the smaller part. The historical part of the collection is nevertheless valuable. The castle has unique romantic atmosphere. It is an ideal venue for loving couples to develop their relationship or even connecting their life with each other.

Nezvish is a romantic castle as well, but the exhibited material here is world class quality from the first room till the last, and the amount of the exhibited material is also larger, as in Mir.

Nezvish is a place rather for cultural interests, Mir for romantic feelings mostly. Visiting of both castles can be easily connected to each other since they are only 30 kilometres away from each other.

Also the memorial museum and skanzen of the famous Belarusian writer, Jakub Kolas is nearby, in Mikalajeŭščyna. Jakub Kolas was contemporary of Mihail Sadovenau and the most significant representative of the Belarusian folk culture inspired literature during the Soviet era.

Although not part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, Brest, city and fortress on the Belarusian – Polish border, has an extraordinary role in the cultural life of the country. During WW II, the USSR was attacked at this point by the Germans without declaration, and the locals were fighting heroically, although they didn’t get supply. Now a memorial place calls attention to the heroic act. In 2010 Belarus and Russia made a movie “Brestkaya krepost” (English title Fortress of War) about the historical events in the classical style of the Soviet war dramas.

Ákos István Posta

Fotos in Mir are made by Olga Ugolik.
Fotos in Nezvish are made by the author.

Originally published: http://www.reggeliujsag.ro/pdf/regi%202015/168/168-6.pdf