We tried to find an interesting destination for a day trip by public transport from Minsk. Our choice finally came down to Zaslavl, as it could easily be reached by suburban train (elektrichka).
The suburban trains serve the route almost half hourly. In 2011 the single fare was 2000 BYR for a modern train or 1550 BYR for an old style elektrichka.
On the train trip we even got in contact with a young Belarusian couple, who was also on their way to Zaslavl. We decided to explore the town together.
The history of Zaslavl dates back to 985, when it was founded by Vladimir the Great. The main sight is the Church of the Saviour's Transfiguration, which was built in 1577.
Also the Roman Catholic Church of Mary's Nativity from 1774 is well worth seeing. Other sighs include the ruins of an ancient castle, a Lenin statue, an ethnographic museum and a monument of Rogneda and Izyaslav.
Zaslavl is situated approximately 20 km northwest of Minsk. The train trip takes about 30 minutes. Please note, that the train station of Zaslavl is named "Belarus".
The Minsk Tractor Works are one of the world's largest manufacturer of agricultural vehicles, especially tractors. More than 20.000 people work here.
The plant was built in 1946 on the site of a former aviation company, which was destroyed during the Great Patriotic War (WWII).
The main products are tractors of the well known brand "Belarus". The first model MTZ-2 was manufactured in 1953.
During Soviet times the Minsk Tractor Works were awarded the Order of Lenin (1966) and the Order of the October Revolution (1971).
The Minsk Tractor Works are situated about 2,5 km southeast of the city centre. The nearest metro stop is "Traktorny Zavod". The tractor works are also served by many tram lines.
Address: Minsk Tractor Works, ul. Dolgobrodskaya 29, Minsk
Like many other former USSR cities, also Minsk is home to a Children's Railway. These were established for the purose of giving teenagers better ideas of railway professions.
Minsk's Children's Railway was named after the Soviet Hero Konstantin Zaslonov and inaugurated in summer 1955.
The 4,5 km train trip takes about 20 minutes and leads through the Chelyuskintsev Park. The train stops at 3 stations: Pionerskaya, Sosnovy Bor and Zaslonovo. The latter one is the main station, which can be found near the metro station Park Chelyuskintsev.
In August 2011 we paid 5000 BYR (about 0,70 Euro) for a single ticket.
Nesvizh is popular tourism place of Belarus. Nesvizh city is famous because of its castle - the residence of Radziwill family. The castle was built at 16th century and all that time was the place for culture of that region, the mix of Western and Southern European cultures and architectural styles. The castle had very big library, lots of treasury inside. It is said, that there were 12 statues of Saints (about 1 meter height) in the castle. 8 of them were from silver, other 4 - from gold. Radziwills were keeping bears in the castle cellar - in winter they used bears for riding around castle park.
The forest is located in the outskirts of Minsk, on the way to Mir. All territory of forest is signed by lots of wooden crosses. It commemorates the bloody period in Belarusian history, when many people were killed by KGB at this forest. People were buried even in three layers on each other.
There was "more" official state that killed people were Jewish, taken here by Nazis from other parts. Some local people still principally don't use autobahn located near this forest, as part of road was constructed on burial place.
Mir castle is another UNESCO World Heritage site in Belarus. Mir castle famous because of mix of different architecture styles - gothic, renaissance, baroque. Mir small city has more significant places, as 17th September square, Catholic and Orthodox churches, former Yeshiva (Jewish school). City played big role in county life.
Well it's really not so off the beaten path since it's just 1 min from the October Square, but this wooden house could be not easy to be noticed behind the huge Republic Palace.
This pretty wooden house is nowadays the the house-museum of the artist Valentij Vankovich, called the Museum of Classicism. And this house is supposed to be built in the perfect classicist style of architecture popular in this part of Europe at the end of the 18th century / beginning of the 19th century. The house has been rebuilt after the WWII.
The house is rebuild also inside as a typical house of the beginning of the 19th century. The artist didn't live here for long since he studied in Polatsk, Vilnius and St.Peterburg and died when he was just 42 in Paris. None of his many paintings are these days in his homeland and so this house is just a memorial to the artist and life in that period. Not a must visit place, but surely a nice one. There are projects to rebuild also other parts of the house complex which was destroyed during the war.
In US a visit to the eye doctor costs ~$100, in Minsk you can do it + purchase 2 pairs of contact lenses with lenses` solution for ~$40 total. That`s what we did anyway.
We went to Sothys beauty saloon (next to Frunzenskaya metro station). It is in a very long red apartments building.
This ground floor store has a beauty saloon at the front and eye doctor office at the back. BTW, the eye doctor lady was speaking some English.
Address: Tanka Str., 16.
Hours: 9am-9pm, St (10am-4pm).
Street Internatsianalnaya is one of the oldest in the city. More than 120 years ago it had name Volatskaya. That was a very respectable quarter where rich Minsk inhabitants built their houses. Those years the highest building was Europe Hotel, and it had 6 flours - something immense comparing to others around it. The Europe Hotel used to accomodate VIP visitors who had been traveling via Minsk both to Eastern and Western directions. There were phones in each room, and an electric lift (the one in the town!). Unfortunately, the building was destroyed by an airbomb in 1941.
Must see the country side!!! And if travelling in winter, go to skii at The sport complex in Raubichi (can get there simply by bus).