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Dating back to the 10th century, Minsk is the capital of Belarus and one of Europe's oldest cities. But it presents a surprisingly modern aspect today, with most of its historic buildings having been flattened during World War II.
Minsk was rebuilt as a showpiece Soviet city and little has changed since then. Wide boulevards and squares are lined with grandiose block-style buildings along the Svisloch River, interspersed with war memorials and Soviet symbols.
Nightclubs and casinos abound, while restaurants and theatre ooze baroque both on and off the stage. There are also a variety of amazing, themed health spas where waterfalls cascade into indoor pools.
The present of Minsk is interesting but so is its past. Because of its central eastern location between Poland and Ukraine, it has often been a European battleground over the centuries. It suffered at the hands of Russian troops in the 1600s, Peter the Great and Sweden in the 1700s, Napoleon and then Hitler.
This humid, damp city has precipitation on most days of the year, with wet summers and snowy winters. The climate in Minsk is moderate with an average January temperature of 21°F (-6°C) and an average July temperature of 64°F (18°C). Winters (December to February) are mild, with snow likely, while summers (June to August) are warm and usually damp; two thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the summer months. May to September is the warmest time of year, while fog is common during the autumn and spring.
Minsk is not exactly a sightseeing city, but it makes up in interest for what it lacks in traditional tourist attractions. A Stalinist city, Minsk has a unique atmosphere which is appealing to those seeking a novel destination.
Tourist attractions in Minsk include the imposing Cathedral of the Holy Ghost, dating back to 1642, one of only a handful of historic buildings surviving in the city; the Chelyuskinetes Park, an old-fashioned amusement park providing outdoor fun and a pretty botanical garden; the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, showcasing the horrors of World War II; the National Museum of Culture and History, which chronicles the long and turbulent history of Belarus; the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Belarus; and Victory Square, which includes a moving war memorial.
Minsk is a comparatively safe city and getting around is easy while sightseeing. Many of the main attractions can be visited on foot, and reasonably priced public transport fills in the gaps for travellers who don't want to walk too much.
No direct flights from Heathrow to this Destination
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