The oldest temple of the Belarusian capital, like a true warrior, withstood the times of battles and pogroms. The Church of Peter and Paul in Minsk, built with private donations from citizens, is open to the public. It holds services, the sacraments of baptism and marriage.
History of the oldest temple in Minsk
The foundation was laid in 1612. It took only eight years to complete construction. The church became part of the Peter and Paul Monastery. There was no permanent funding, the building was erected on voluntary donations from residents, among whom was Princess Drutskaya-Gorskaya. A complete list of names is still kept in the altar area of the temple.
The 17th century was a difficult time for the Orthodox, with Polish gentry constantly aggressing, attacking, and ravaging churches. Therefore, the building was originally designed as a fortress, with its inherent thick walls, battlement windows and watchtowers. The measures taken did not save it from barbaric sacking in 1734.
Catherine II rescued the Church of Peter and Paul in Minsk from oblivion by giving 7,000 silver rubles for its restoration. The restoration took two years, and in 1797 the church was active again. It was renamed Catherine’s in honor of the Great Martyr.
The next shock came to the Peter and Paul Church in Minsk during the War of 1812 when they turned it into a French infirmary, having previously looted and removed everything of value. Another restoration of the church was in the years from 1870 to 1871. During this period remodeling was carried out, the walls and dome were covered with paintings.
During collectivization the church, among others, was converted into a warehouse, the ministers were shot, and the valuables were taken away. Services began to be held there again during the most terrible years of World War II. During the bombings, the strong walls saved many lives.
After the end of hostilities, the church was closed again until 1991. On December 7, the consecration was held in the name of the Apostles Peter and Paul. After a major restoration, the towers regained their hipped tops. The Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Minsk regained its original appearance, freed from ridiculous additions, and was included in the register of architectural monuments.
The bells were returned to the bell towers and rows of ancient frescoes were restored.
Over the centuries, the interior decoration has been damaged several times and restored from old drawings and paintings. During the restoration, the entire gallery of frescoes was cleared of plaster. Especially valuable is the icon of the Three Vilnja Martyrs with fragments of relics, brought to the church in a procession in 1993.
How do I get to St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral?
The temple is located near Freedom Square on Nemiga Street. Nearby is the Holy Spirit Cathedral and a large shopping center. You can visit the temple on your own or as part of an excursion group. The cathedral is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
It is not customary to enter the church for tourist purposes during the service.
The Church of Peter and Paul is the only Renaissance building that has survived in the Belarusian capital. It is recognized as a cultural monument of national importance.
For the schedule of services, see the official website sppsobor.by.