There are very few places left where it is still possible to experience a truly authentic taste of the Soviet era. Fortunately not only is Belarus one such place, it’s also convenient and easy to visit with no visa required on entry. This small group tour is based in the capital, Minsk, but takes excursions out to explore more of the country. Day-trips include visits the castles of Mir and Niesvizh, as well as the military complex Stalin’s Line.
Upon arrival in this fascinating country, you will immediately notice the (refreshing) lack of advertising hoardings; many 60’s apartment tower blocks and clean, wide boulevards with neat flowerbeds. Minsk also feels a very safe place to wander the streets at any time of day.
Fly to Minsk and transfer to the Hampton by Hilton to check in for four nights.
Your exploration of Minsk begins right away with a morning city tour introducing you to the capital’s highlights, such as Independence Square, Victory Square (with its 38 metre-high obelisk), the Orthodox Holy Spirit Cathedral and the Island of Tears. Minsk was first settled in 1067 but barely any ancient monuments remain in the city from its foundations. Despite claiming a few outstanding historical sights that represent the city’s rich and illustrious past, Minsk is best known as a living monument to the grandiose aspirations of Soviet architecture and urban planning. Famously destroyed during the Great Patriotic War, the Belarusian capital grew out of the ashes of conflict to become a Socialist Realist masterpiece complete with spacious avenues, lush green parks and a battalion of buildings dating from the 1940s and 1950s that simply have to be seen to be believed. It’s a sentence often said and rarely true, but Minsk really is a city like no other.
Beneath its clean and regimented exterior lies an underbelly of exuberance in the guise of exceptional restaurants, world-class bars and clubs to rival those in any major city around the world. Culture-vultures here will find a vibrant offering of performances available from the theatre and opera to experimental dance. Take advantage of a free afternoon to explore the city at leisure; perhaps visit one of Minsk’s many museums such as the new History of the World War II. It has ten exhibition halls and more than 8,000 exhibits telling about how the things were in the run-up to the Great Patriotic War, during the war and after the victory. (B)
This morning travel to the medieval town of Mir—a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and astounding example of 16th-century fortification art. The construction of this Gothic-style castle complex was started by Duke Ilinich, before passing to the Radzivill family, who completed it in a Renaissance style. A three-storey palace was built along the eastern and northern walls of the castle and an artificial lake put in to the south.
After lunch in a local restaurant continue to Nesvizh Castle, which was once owned by the noble and powerful Radzivill family, until the Red Army seized the property in 1939. It was rebuilt over the centuries so many times that it has a myriad of architectural styles including Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-gothic to name but a few. Learn about the legends and mysteries that surround the castle—including the mystery of the missing golden apostles—and explore halls displaying the works of some of Europe’s best architects, painters, woodcarvers, decorators and jewellers. (B,L)
This morning visit the Stalin Line historical complex, named after part of preserved fortification line which originally ran from St. Petersburg to Odessa as a defence against German troops. The main task of the fortified region was to protect Misnk from the attack of a fascist’s army in 1941. Opened in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War (WW2), the complex boasts a large selection of military vehicles, AFV’s, aircraft, artillery, and an extensive system of bunkers and trenches.
The experience includes the opportunity to walk around pillboxes, sit in a gun emplacement and stroll along the trench system. It is one of the most complete exhibitions of artillery and military equipment in Belarus. In the afternoon transfer back to Minsk . (B)
Morning transfer to airport for the flight back to the UK. (B)
5 day tour, from £875 per person
- Flights in economy class with Belavia direct from London Gatwick
- All airport taxes
- Accommodation in the three-star hotel as specified
- Meals as specified (B= Breakfast; L= Lunch; D= Dinner)
- All transfers and transportation
- Excursions with English speaking guides
- Entrance fees on sightseeing tours
- Meals and drinks other than those detailed above
- Items of personal expenditure
Please note that there is no single room supplement on this tour
20 Jun 2018
24 Jun 2018
05 Sep 2018
09 Sep 2018
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