MeetnGreetMe Travel Guide

Minsk. USSR and the City

Minsk is a modern bustling city in the centre of Europe. At the same time it is one of the few post-Soviet capitals that still offers its guests USSR style architecture, service and attitude. Let's explore the multi-faceted Minsk with MeetnGreetMe!
A FEW WORDS ABOUT MINSK AND BELARUS
Belarus is a real Terra Incognita at the heart of Europe. Beautiful country with unbelievable nature, long history and kind-hearted people. After visiting it you will count days to come back.

We've gathered information about the most interesting places to visit in Minsk, and collected local expert reviews to help you discover the capital of Belarus the way local people see it.

Check out our Guide on top things to do in winter 2017 during a 5-day visit to Belarus
Eternal fire never blows out!
The Victory Square and the Victory Monument
Victory Circus is the Belarusian version of Red Square in Moscow, Russia. Around the Obelisk there are four bronze wreaths as a symbol of the 4 Soviet fronts: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Belarusian and 1st Baltic. Eternal flame burns at the foot of the Victory Monument. On May 8, 1985 an underground passage with a Memorial Hall was opened under Victory Square in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War. The Hall honours the Heroes of the Soviet Union who gave their lives to liberate Belarus. The wreath in the Memorial Hall is made of coloured glass and reflects light of the eternal fire. And names of the 566 Heroes of the Soviet Union who died during the Great Patriotic War are immortalised on the walls at the memorial plates.

If you need a car park, look for a space near Gorky Park. There are some nice restaurants, so feel free to pop into one of them.

Underground station: Ploshcha Peramohi
Location: at the crossing of Nezalezhnasti Avenue and Zakharau Street
Open: 24/7
Victory Square and the Victory Monument
The memorial was constructed when Minsk was awarded the title of Hero City. Since then, the Eternal Fire has been burning at the foot of the column. As a rule, on May 9 parades and concerts are staged here. International leaders arriving in Minsk come to Victory Square to lay wreaths and commemorate Belarusian people's contribution to combating Nazism.
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The Soviet Stalinism style of the Victory Square leaves a really strong impression. For me it's a symbol of freedom and strength of the human spirit.
What's more, if you'd like to try some really delicious pastry, visit "Karavai". This is a small bakery on the side of Gorky Park. Just go there and ask them for an "ekler".


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The green heart of the city
Gorky Park
The park was established in 1800 under the name of Governor's Garden, but during the Soviet years it was renamed in Gorky Park after the famous Soviet writer Maksim Gorky. It's a 3-minute walk from Victory Square and due to the location it's also called Central Park. Not only the river and nature attract numerous Minsk citizens to the park, but also an amusement park and educational observatory with a planetarium.

Underground station: Ploshcha Peramohi
Location: between Nezalezhnasti Av., Frunze Str., Pershamajskaya Str. and Kupala Str.
Open: 24/7
Price: free
city's green heart
Gorky Park
It's a very calm and clean park in Minsk neighbouring the Svisloch river with a lot of old big trees and a few coffee shops to buy some food or beverage.

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I just love Gorky Park because of the river and fresh air just in the Minsk city centre, but also because there are a lot of people, couples and families peacefully strolling there along the water. There's also an amusement park there. If you've got some time, hop on the ferris wheel. It's 54m high; it offers a mesmerizing view of Minsk, so you will be able to see the city centre from it.

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It was the first museum in the world dedicated to this theme
The Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War
This is a new building for the Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War. It opened its doors to the visitors on July 2, 2014. It possesses a huge number of items to exhibit and is very popular among Minsk citizens and international guests. A visit to its Victory Hall is a must because of its absolutely beautiful interior with names of Heroes of the Soviet Union made in gold on the white marble walls and an incredible cupola made of glass.

Access to the museum is free every first Tuesday of each month.

Location: Pobediteley Av. 8
Open: Wed.: 12 p.m. - 8 a.m.
Tue., Thur. - Sun.: 10 p.m. - 6 a.m.
Mon.: closed
Phone: +375 17 327-11-66
Price: adults - BYR 70000 ($3,5), students and pupils - BYR 35000 ($2), under 7 y.o. - free
Web-site: www.warmuseum.by

The Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War
Nowadays it is the most important museum about the great deed of the Belarusian and other Soviet peoples in the struggle against Nazism. It's permanent collection numbers almost 150,000 items. There are four halls containing different expositions. This impressive museum displays the most horrific days of the Belarusian history and people's strong belief in the victory.
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The Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War makes me think about my ancestors and the price they had to pay for the peaceful sky above us. All exhibits are very touching and impressive. They really make you plunge into the horrible atmosphere of the war and feel the pain and fear the Soviet people had to endure. What's more, they frequently have interesting photo exhibitions there.

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Beautiful place to see opera and ballet
The National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Belarus
It's a really gorgeous place both inside and outside. Theatre-lovers are already used to buying a ticket in advance because from 18.00 to 19.00 before the evening performance the tickets are sure to be sold out! The repertoire is constantly updated and new performances are staged.

The Opera and Ballet Theatre is a popular venue for photo shooting. Newlyweds and school leavers love capturing important days of their life in the park and next to the fountains near the theatre.

When planning your visit to the theatre, bear in mind the time interval necessary for passing the security formalities (metal detectors) and arrive no later than 15 minutes before the beginning of the performance.

Underground station: Niamiha
Location: Parizhskaya Kommuna Square 1
Open: 10 p.m. - 10 a.m.
Phone: +375 17 334-10-41, +375 17 334-10-41
Price: BYR 40,000 - 1,000,000 ($2-50) for a ticket
Web-site: www.bolshoibelarus.by
best place to see opera and ballet
The National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Belarus
It is one of the most fascinating places in Minsk. The magnificent interior and exterior of the theater complemented with high-class performances leave no one indifferent. Need help booking tickets there? Ask us to help you out.

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This is the top place to see famous opera and ballet performances. Local ballet artists are believed to be the best and are in great demand worldwide. It's quite hard to buy tickets here as the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Belarus is very popular among locals. So I advise you to purchase them weeks in advance.

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Make your photos pay for your drink!
Impressive building and great show
The Minsk State Circus
The Circus is located in the historic centre of Minsk nearby with the museum of the 1st Congress of RSDLP (it stands for Russian Social Democratic Labour Party), main offices of National State TV and Radio and City House of Marriages. A green park stretches from Victory Circus to the river of Svisloch and to the entrance of Gorky Park.

The Circus created the First national group Stars of Belarus with a set program. It boasts high-class acrobats, rope walkers, clowns, jugglers, jockeys, animal performers and their trainers.

During the last 2 years the circus has hosted shows of international programs with participation of artists from Belarus, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Hungary, Kenya, China, as well as artists of Nikulin Big circus on Tsvetnoj Boulevard, Moscow circus on Vernadsky Avenue, Warsaw Big circus, and Beijing Golden circus.

Mind that there is no parking space or any car park here. You can get there by bus or underground.

Underground: Ploshcha Peramohi, Kupalauskaya
Location: Nezalezhnastsi Av. 32
Open: Mon - Fri: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Phone: +375 17 327-78-42, +375 29 312-13-13
Price: BYR 30,000 - 600,000 ($1.5 - 30) for a ticket
Web-site: www.circus.by/en
The Minsk State Circus
The origin of the Minsk State Circus date back to 1930. It took four years to complete the construction of the modern building and it was finally opened to public on February 11, 1959. Renovation in 2010 attracted even more visitors to enjoy high-class performances by Belarusian actors and touring companies.
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After reconstruction the circus turned into an outstanding building with marvellous statues around it. So don't forget to take some photos with the clowns and the animals nearby. Children and adults alike enjoy magical performances here. By the way, the tickets are really affordable. It's definitely one of the things to do in Minsk.

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Manastic complexes and churches
The Upper Town (Verkhny Gorod)
The central element of the Upper Town is Svabody Square (Square of Freedom), which was formed in the 16th century. It is associated with a major mystery of the Upper Town of Minsk. So according to a legend, under this area there are underground tunnels connecting all major monastic complexes in Minsk. Since the16th century, the Upper Town was the place of settlement of the richest and most influential city dwellers who built their residences here.

Minsk Street Theatres Forum performs for free on Svabody Square, as well as different choirs, bands, and musicians.

Today it is the centre of night life. Zybitskaya Street in the Trinity Suburb blew Minsk up a few years ago with new bars opening every 2 weeks. Visiting this street should be in a must-to-do-in-Minsk list for those in love with partying. Tumany, Banki-Butylki, El Pushka, Barshop Beercap, Cherdak, Malt & Hops, Private House, Don Coffe'on... The list of bars on this street is endless. Drop in each of them and find a favourite one.

Underground: Niamiha
Monastery complexes and churches
The Upper Town (Verkhniy Gorod)
Here you can explore Minsk City Hall, Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Trinity Suburb, the St. Joseph's Church, the Children's Philharmonic Hall, Minsk citadel, St. Peter and St. Paul's Cathedral, and many more.

Check out our Guide on Best Cafés and Restaurants in Minsk.

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The whole place is definitely worth a visit. Make sure you explore all the small streets and passages in this area of Minsk. Some of the buildings have been recently renovated, so the Upper Town looks really luring and fascinating. Here you can find nice coffee shops, restaurants and wine bars. I personally recommend dropping in at Svobody 4. This is a very cozy wine bar with great drinks and staff who speak different languages.

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The best sightseeing area in the city where you can touch the sky
Observation deck of the Belarus hotel
The deck was open after the reconstruction of the hotel. On the observation deck you have half an hour to take great photos or simply to get a bird's-eye view of the city. For a detailed view there is a binocular. Do not be afraid to see a security man accompanying you to the roof, it is for your security only.

The deck's great advantage is that it's open till the midnight so you can have a look at night Minsk or at fireworks on the national holidays. The observation deck can be rented in advance for some special events, like parties, a romantic dinner, and registration of marriage.

On the 22 floor in the hotel there's a Panorama restaurant with a magnificent view on the centre of Minsk. You can enjoy both the view and the European and Slavic cuisine dishes.

Underground: Niamiha
Location: Storozhovskaya Str. 15
Open: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., the last lift at 11:20 p.m.
Phone: +375 17 209-71-06
Price: 1 person - BYR 25 000 ($1,5) for 30 minutes
Web-site: www.belarus-hotel.by/en
Observation deck in Belarus Hotel
"Belarus" is a hotel located in the city centre near the Svisloch river. The hotel has a panoramic elevator, which lifts the platform to the height of 73 metres. This attraction is popular among tourists and locals alike because of the beauty they can see from the deck: the Upper Town, the Trinity Suburb, the State Museum of the Great Patriotic War, the meandering river, and numerous green parks.

Check out our Guide on Best Hotels and Hostels in Minsk.
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This one is my personal favourite in Minsk. The view from here is grasping and mesmerizing indeed. Just make sure you take a cool camera with you there so that you can shoot HD photos from the top.

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Contemporary space for the modern art
Ў Gallery of Contemporary Art
Ў gallery is an active art-platform which unites gallery space, hand-made and design accessories shop, a bookshop and a café. One of the most important directions of Ў gallery activity is educational: organization and carrying-out of seminars, round-tables and other culture events in the field of art-criticism, art-management and curatorship with the participation of Belarusian and foreign specialists. Various personal and group exhibitions of Belarusian and foreign artists take place in the gallery.

In the building there's the Ў Bar, the first wine bar in Minsk, so while enjoying a glass of wine in the evening you can meet here the best artists of the country.

It's one of the few places where you can meet people who speak perfect English and amazing Belarusian.

Underground: Ploshcha Pieramohi
Location: Nezalezhnasti Av. 37a
Open: 12 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Phone: +375 17 286-31-68
Price: free
Web-site: http://en.ygallery.by
contemporary art
Ў Gallery of Contemporary Art
A small venue in Minsk with temporary and very contemporary exhibitions. Although it's located in the centre, this place is hidden away and can be found in a gap between the buildings well away from the main street.

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Lenin is watching you!
Independence Square
Before 1991 the square was named in honour of Vladimir Lenin. The square went through several reconstructions and in 2006 assumed the modern aspect. For your attention there are several attractions. The Red Church (or Church of Saints Simon and Helena) is a catholic cathedral built more than 100 years ago. During the Soviet era it was mainly used as a cinema. Mass is celebrated in the church in Belarusian, Polish, Lithuanian, and Latin.

Another tourist attraction is a three-floor underground shopping mall Stalitsa with boutiques, cafes, children's play room, bank offices, toilets and shops with every kind of goods to buy in it, including various souvenirs made in Belarus

Taking photos is prohibited because of numerous governmental buildings there. If you take a photo a police officer will politely (or not) ask you to delete everything. You can take photos of the Red Church and the fountain.

Underground: Ploshcha Lenina
Independence Square
It is the central and the biggest square surrounded by Minsk City Executive Committee, the Red Church, Belarusian State University, and many other governmental institutions. In summer a beautiful fountain in the centre of the square saves locals from heat. The main attraction is, of course, the tall Lenin statue outside the Parliament building. Go there and see it before it's too late!
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The street right in the center full of rest and full of love
Karl Marks Street
Karl Marks Street is a street with the early XX century architecture. It stretches almost from the Railway Station to the President's Administration and the Gorky Park. The street hosts the Belarusian National History Museum, also you can find the Belarusian National Arts Museum - the largest in the country - at the crossing with Lenin street, the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theatre is located at the crossing with Engels Street, and the Central Officers House can be found at the crossing with Krasnoarmeyskaya street .

Karl Marks street is loved not only by the theatre- and museum-goers. Citizens and tourists enjoy a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine) at one of the patios of the numerous cafes and restaurants watching quiet and calm way of life of a bustling city.

Underground: Kupalauskaya, Kastrychnitskaya, Ploshcha Lenina
The street right in minsk city centre full of SERENITY and romance
Karl Marx Street
It is a special street with a unique atmosphere. The majority of the buildings were constructed in the 1930s and preserve old Minsk architecture. Almost every building on this street is heritage-listed. Today Karl Marx Street in Minsk is pedestrian.

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Here I feel as if the past and the present meet each other and it's up to me to decide whom to follow… There are a multitude of coffee shops, restaurants, wine bars, and pubs along the way. Some of them offer European cuisine, while others specialist in Belarusian national one. The best one is Kukhmistr. There you can enjoy not only delicious local food but also chilling live music at the weekend.

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Historical center
Troitskoye Predmestye (The Trinity Suburb)
The Trinity Suburb is the oldest surviving district of Minsk, although it's not part of the downtown. There are several hypotheses about its name. The most common relates it to the first Roman Catholic church in Minsk, the Trinity and Assumption of Mary Church.

Here you'll find many museums and exhibitions, shops and cafes, architectural monuments and other landmarks, for example the restaurants Trinity Suburb and Tavern Traetskaya, the Souvenir Shop, Museum of History of Theatre and Music, Museum of the History of Belarusian Literature and many others.

Underground: Niamiha
Troitskoye Predmestye (The Trinity Suburb)
This is Old Town, more commonly known as Troitskoye Predmestye (The Trinity Suburb). It's a small area preserving the old architecture and typical cozy narrow streets. So to see what Minsk looked like four centuries ago you should come here. The area has a number of decent restaurants and bars, making it worth having a look around, especially in the summertime.

Check out our Guide on Best Cafés and Restaurants in Minsk.
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Hi-Tech Park Belarus
During the last years the IT sector in Belarus has been receiving strong governmental support and is one of the top-priority economic sectors to develop. The High Technologies Park (HTP) is the heart of the Belarusian IT-industry. The Science and Production area includes a complex of scientific and production premises for IT companies, their production facilities.

EPAM systems, Sakrament IT, System Technologies and ScienceSoft were the first to become resident-companies in 2006. Today EPAM Systems is the #1 software engineering outsourcing services provider in Central and Eastern Europe.

40% of the software produced in the Park account for the USA and Canada, 46% - for Europe and 10% for Russia and the CIS countries.

In 2015 the HTP launched a business incubator and a co-working center to support startups to make their steps towards building solid businesses.

If you need a place with entrepreneurial atmosphere, free wifi and delicious coffee visit the HTP co-working center. We in turn will be extremely glad to meet you, listen to your MeetnGreetMe story and share with you ours.

Location: Kuprevicha Str. 1/1
Phone: +375 17 268-69-11
Web-site: http://www.park.by
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Hi-Tech Park Belarus
HTP Belarus provides special business environment for IT businesses with incentives unprecedented for European countries. It also provides start-up teams in Minsk, Belarus with a home to create and develop their amazing ideas and bring them to life.

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Back in the USSR
GUM
The department store building is a monument of architecture and urban planning of the twentieth century. Initially it was located at Sovetskaya Street, but after the World War II GUM did not return to its former building because that street was almost completely destroyed and it was decided to plan a new one.

Its opening to public in 1951 was a real feast because for the post-war people it was not simply a store, but more of a palace. GUM was full of holiday atmosphere, there was a doorman at the entrance, shining mirrors, chic ceiling lamps. That was the first day when imported goods from Poland, Germany, France appeared in a Minsk shop.

Today it's not that classy, but in any case when in GUM you'll feel as if back in USSR.

Underground: Kastrychnitskaya
Location: Nezalezhnasti Av. 21
Open: Mon - Sat: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sun: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Phone: +375 17 226-10-48
Web-site: http://gum.by
GUM State Department Store
GUM is another venue in the long list of places in Minsk noted for the Soviet atmosphere. Minsk citizens love this retro store for its convenient location, all types of goods offered and regular sales with up to 35% discounts. It's a good place to buy a souvenir because almost every product in the store was made in Belarus.

Not sure what souvenirs to buy? Check out our advice on best souvenirs from Belarus.
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It's quite a great place to do some shopping in Minsk. However, please mind that goods offered here are mostly Belarusian and cheap. You won't be able to find European and American brands here. At the same time, I would highly recommend checking out Belarusian cosmetics, women lingerie, men shirts, traditional souvenirs, and coats. They are usually of very high quality and are sold at reasonable prices.

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The principal market in the centre of Minsk
Minsk Komarovskiy Market
Komarovsky market (or simply Komarovka) is divided into two parts. The indoor market is open all the year round. Next to its entrance you'll see the market's symbol - a bronze sculpture of an old woman selling sunflower seeds. The seasonal market offers fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and meat and is closed in winter.

In February 2016 Komarovskiy Market created an Instagram account. It posts photos of Products-of-the-Day with their prices. By the way, the account is quite popular - it is followed by almost 6500 people.

Underground: Ploshcha Yakuba Kolasa
Location: Very Haruzhej Str. 8
Open: Tue - Sun: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Phone: +375 17 292-66-98
Web-site: www.komarovka.by
the principal market in the centre of Minsk
Minsk Komarovskiy Market
The biggest local market in the republic where you can buy anything from local pastry to kebabs, as well as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and so on. What goes on at this market is really amazing.

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Memorial Complex
Island of Tears
The memorial To the Motherland's Sons who Died Overseas was opened on August 3, 1996.
In front of it there's a large boulder with a bronze icon of the Mother of God and a description of the memorial in several languages, including English.

The monument's centrepiece is a chapel resembling the original XI century version of Euphrosyn of Polotsk Church. The names of all the Belarusians who died in Afghanistan are written on the walls. Inside, the monument is painted with Biblical scenes.

Another element of this complex is a sculpture of a crying boy - Guardian Angel. It is a monument to those who died during the war and to those who died from the mental and physical wounds after returning to the homeland.

You can get to the Island of Tears complex right from the Trinity Suburb through a bridge across the Svisloch river.

Underground: Niamiha
Location: near Starovilenskaya Str.
Open: 24/7
Price: free
Island of Tears
Island of Tears is a unique memorial complex in commemoration of soldiers who died in Afganistan. The complex stands on a man-made island on the river Svisloch close to the Trinity Suburb. Its construction was launched in 1988 at the height of the Afganistan war. No wonder it's also known as the Isle of Courage and Sorrow.
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Back to USSR
The Central Supermarket
It's a particular place for Minsk. Until recently a big supermarket on the second floor was the only supermarket in this area. It has its own speciality - incredibly tasty cakes and pastry that can be ordered in advance or bought simply in the store.

But today it is mostly famed for the first floor cafe. There's a small zone with tables and chairs in it, but the majority of clients enjoy their drink and food on feet in front of a huge window looking out on the main avenue. Absolutely inappropriate for a date, a holiday, any kind of party. Even McDonald's which is in the same building is better for such purposes.

Underground: Kupalauskaya
Location: Nezalezhnasti Av. 23
Open: 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Phone: +375 17 226-12-89
Back to the USSR
The Central Shop
It is home to cafe Stolovaya #57 on the first floor which is always crowded with men drinking beer or stiff drinks and, quite surprisingly, youngsters enjoying delicious pastry.

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Ice cream! Totally delicious ice cream with a great variety of flavors. Anytime I'm in Minsk center I don't miss a chance to pamper myself.

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A monumental building
The Palace of the Republic
With its austere angular looks, the Palace of the Republic is one of the most imposing structures in Minsk. This huge building stands solitarily on Oktyabrskaya square, a vast open space off Minsk central thoroughfare Nezalezhnasti avenue. Inside, the Palace hosts large-scale concerts from visiting guests or by the Presidential orchestra, as well as conferences and political meetings.

The Palace is also home to a 3D cinema and several bars, cafes, and clubs in its surrounding space. Taking a mere 25 years from concept to a fully operational status, the Palace of the Republic was finally completed in full in 2001. Visit the Palace's official website for information in English about upcoming events.

A small piramide you will see near the road is a Zero kilometer, the place where all the Belarusian roads start. 'Life is a road' is written where and we can't agree more.

Underground: Kastrychnitskaya
Location: Kastrychnitskaya Square (in Russian - Oktyabrskaya Square)
Phone: +375 17 229-92-01
Web-site: http://palace.by/en
The Palace of the Republic
Today it is a modern building known to every citizen of the Republic of Belarus as well as to many guests of Minsk. Prime social political events are usually held here as well as some big local and international stars concerts. It is often called "sarcophagus" among the citizens because of its exterior.
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Minsk Eye
The Ferris Wheel
From the hight of 54 metres you'll see amazing views onto green Minsk that will impress you, especially in an open cabin. It possesses 32 closed cabins and only 4 open ones - this explains such long queues for the open cabins.

A child should be at least 5 years old to ride accompanied by an adult, not less than 12 y.o. to ride in a closed cabin without accompanying, and older than 14 to see the city in an open cabin without adults.

Underground: Ploshcha Peramohi
Location: Gorky Park, Frunze Str. 2
Open: Mon: 3 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Fri, Sat: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Price: BYR 23000 ($1) for a closed cabin, BYR 28000 ($1,5) for an open cabin
Minsk Eye
The Ferris Wheel
The highest ferris wheel in the city is located in Gorky Park. The Ferris Wheel is one of the things to do in Minsk because of a breathtaking panorama seen from its cabins. The most courageous ones are welcome to enjoy the view from open cabins at the height of 54m.

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They remind us about our childhood, first love, friends and some other important things of our lives. Check out our Blog on Minsk for expert advice and travel tips prepared for you.


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