Historical places Whether it is WWI or WWII, Napoleon war or Northern wars - they happened here in Belarus. There is plenty of history of Russian Socialist revolution here too. Belarus has the richest Jewish history. Whether it is David Mayer-Lanski or David Sarnoff, Isaac Asimov or Eliayahu Golomb, Kirk Douglas or Gwyneth Paltrow, Haim Weizmann, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, Shimon Peres, Marc Chagall, the Chofetz Chaim, Bielski brothers, and the first Lubavitcher Rebbe - they were born or have roots in Belarus or within 50 miles of its current borders. The first ever Yeshiva was built in Valozhyn, Belarus. There are plenty of XII-XIV centuries Castles left in Belarus. Most of them half destroyed. Some (in Mir, Nyasvizh, Zaslaue, Lida, Kamianec) are reasonably preserved. Depicted on the left is Mir Castle - one of the many former residencies of the famous Belarusian Radzivill family. Today it is a residence of the college of architectural restoration
You can still find XII century orthodox churches in Hrodna, Mahilyow, Polacak (St. Sophia Cathedral of Polacak is depicted on the right), Navahradak, etc. There are beautiful and mighty catholic churches (XIV-XVI cc.) well preserved in Hrodna, Vitebsk, Vidzy, etc. Depicted on the left is the "Farny" Jesuit Cathedral in Hrodna, built in XVII-XVIIIcc by the King of Rzhech Pospolita Polsko-Litewska - Stefan Batory. See many more of the belarusian cathedrals and other historical buildings in our Belarusian Architecture page. Also visit our City Guides with photos and short historical information about many belarusian towns and cities. If you are flying it is most likely that you will come to our capital Minsk Although completely destroyed during the WWII it was rebuilt in a beautiful city. As for me I like its botanical garden. But visit the linked above page of Dzmitry Zelenko and see for yourself :)
World War II During WWII every fourth (by some accounts 1/3) citizen of Byelorussian SSR perished. Thus we do have a lot of memorials for the victims of WWII. The most known are Khatyn', close to Minsk, and Brest Fortress. Khatyn is a memorial to a village burned during WWII with it's inhabitants alive by Nazi. It has a Graveyard of Villages - each grave symbolizes one of those many Belarusian villages that have shared their terrible fate with Khatyn. Brestskaya Krepasc'(Brest Fortress) is famous by the deed of its heroic garrison. It was defending their post for more than month completely cut off, surrounded by Germans, far from the front that was moving fast to Moscow. They all perished but did not surrender. In commemoration of this deed a tremendous memorial was arisen in Brest. Belarusians had an unprecedented guerilla resistance scale - hundreds of thousands of partisan fighters stayed in Belarusian woods fighting Germans. Bielski brothers saved more than 1,200 of their fellow Jews from perishing in the Holocaust - as many as Oscar Schindler, - the largest rescue of Jews by Jews in all of World War II
Nature At first glance, Belarusian nature is not marked by a variety of colors and diversity of images. Maybe it does not impress one as much as the nature of the tropics, the mountains or the seaside. However, those who look closely at Belarusian nature and listen attentively to its tones and sounds will be overwhelmed by the wealth, depth, and substance of its phenomena. The Nature in Belarus has many things in common with that in Eastern European countries located on a plain in a fairly cold climate. A bird’s-eye view of Belarus is that of a vast plain heavily covered with forest. Its western and northern parts are quite hilly. The southern part is a fairly marshy lowland. Among primeval forests (puscha) and sandy hills the mirrors of uncountable lakes shine. Silver ribbons of big rivers cut through the country’s territory carrying their waters either to the Black or to the Baltic sea. That was the bird’s-eye view of the country. The close-up view is quite different and very fascinating. The nature of northern Belarus cannot be regarded as monotonous. Views, one more beautiful than the other, change there very quickly with every road turn, every hill and gully. Southern, low-laying Belarus, in the sense of relief, is more monotonous. It fascinates one by the mysterious width of its landscapes and the wild intact character of its nature.
Close to Brest is a national park "Belavezha" where the relict European relative of buffalo - Zoobr- has survived. This park is shared between Belarus and Poland and is probably the last piece of primeval European forest. Typical landscapes include pine and mixed woods (1/3 of territory is covered by forest), small hills (the highest point of Belarus - Navahrudak - is 300m above the sea). Belarus is a country of thousands of lakes.You could also do some bird watching in the vast fields, forests and marshlands of Belarus. Of the other natural attractions I can mention a resort on lake Svisloch' with an extremely clean water. Overall Belarus has a lot of small quiet resorts on lakes and rivers in beautiful pine forests. But do not expect a five star service anywhere. It is reasonably clean and safe, but primitive by western standards. The great part about Belarus is that there is no private land. So you can camp pretty much wherever you like to. You can fish, gather berries, mushrooms and flowers, you can daydream on the sunny edge of the forest, you can swim in any lake or river without lifeguard whistling at you and so on and so on. For an overcrowded Europe or Japan this might be a perfect way to get lost in nature. The time scale in such places is unbelievably slow and relaxing.