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Vitebsk Attractions

Most people who have heard anything at all about the sights of Vitebsk, this city is known for at least two facts. First, it is in this city that the annual festival “Slavic Bazaar,” which brings together dozens of famous artists of the former Soviet Union. And secondly, this is where the famous painter Marc Chagall was born and lived. What else is this Belarusian city known for?

Top 10 Sights of Vitebsk

Vitebsk is a city with a long history, described in many textbooks and chronicles. Many famous people were born here, and masterpieces of medieval architecture, which can be admired regardless of the season.

Vitebsk city hall

Vitebsk Town Hall - Vitebsk

The first town hall in Vitebsk was built in 1597 from wood and was intended for meetings of the magistrate. After several fires, the authorities decided to rebuild the symbol of city government from brick and soon Vitebsk had a new two-story administrative building with a four-story tower in the center of the main facade. Subsequently, the interior has been repeatedly redesigned, and in 1911 it was decided to superstructure the third floor.

Since 1924 the building houses the Regional Museum of Local Lore, which currently exhibits more than 200 thousand objects.

Governor’s Palace

Governor's Palace - Vitebsk

This monument of architecture of the 18th century, built in the classical style, hosted many famous historical figures. Created as a mansion for the noble Kudinovich family, in 1806 it became the residence of the governor-general. In the 19th century, many crowned heads stayed here, including close and distant relatives of Russian autocrats, as well as Napoleon Bonaparte himself, who decided to have a little rest before the attack on Moscow.

After the revolution, the Vitebsk Gubispolkom was located here. Unfortunately, after the Great Patriotic War, the palace had to be restored literally from the ruins – only the walls are left of the magnificent building. These walls now house the regional department of the KGB.

Church of the Annunciation

Church of the Annunciation - Vitebsk attractions

The cross-dome form used in the construction of this temple testifies to a great influence of Byzantine architectural techniques on the design of religious buildings in Kievan Rus’. However, local craftsmen have been able to add to the classical proportions those features that set this church apart from many other places of worship in Vitebsk: for example, the way of laying the stones used here, when blocks of limestone alternate with a layer of flat bricks, is unique.

Unfortunately, the fate of this architectural masterpiece was not easy – in the times of the Rzeczpospolita the church was handed over to the Uniates (Orthodox returned it only in 1832), during the Patriotic War of 1812 the French army kept its munitions here, and during the Great Patriotic War it was almost completely destroyed. The remains of the church were then blown up in 1961 to make way for a streetcar ring at the site. The building, which is now the center of religious life in Vitebsk, was restored in the late 20th century in the appearance that it had after its creation in the 12th century.

Marc Chagall Museum

Marc Chagall Museum - Sights of Vitebsk

It’s not even just a museum, but a real museum complex! This attraction of Vitebsk is worth seeing first of all.

The first part of the Chagall Museum is the house where the famous artist spent his childhood and adolescence. Here visitors can not only see the household items and interiors of the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, but also familiarize themselves with the papers that tell about the life of the Chagall family. In total, the house has five rooms, the interior of which was meticulously recreated according to archival documents and the work of Chagall himself.

Marc Chagall Museum in Vitebsk

The second part of the complex is an art museum with paintings by Marc Chagall. Most of the works on view here are in the genre of lithography and etching; also of interest are the letters of good citizens of Vitebsk who opposed the opening of a museum devoted to “anti-Soviet” art.

Victory Square

Victory Square - Sights of Vitebsk

The largest square in the Republic of Belarus. Architecturally, it consists of two parts: a memorial ensemble and an area for public events. The memorial complex was designed by architect Y.V. Shpit and is considered to be the largest structure of a similar plan in Vitebsk.

There is a memorial, 2 swimming pools, 10 pylons representing Soviet soldiers and ordinary people sculpture groups and the main monument, consisting of 3 pylons obelisks in the form of trapezes. At a height of five meters the obelisks are united by a three-sided solid band, on the edges of which you can see the inscriptions “Warriors”, “Partisans” and “Undergrounders”.

Holy Resurrection Church

Sights of Vitebsk - Resurrection Church

The first mention of the Holy Resurrection Church appears in the chronicles in 1558. It was popularly called “Marketplace” because it was located in the immediate vicinity of the market square. The church was originally made of wood and was constantly plagued by fires and arson until it was rebuilt of stone in 1772. Interestingly, the church originally belonged to the Uniates, who recognized the supremacy of Catholic dogma, and only in 1834 was transferred to the Orthodox.

Unfortunately, in 1936, a tragic fate befell this church: by decision of the city authorities, it was deemed to interfere with traffic and was completely destroyed. Soon it had to admit that there was a terrible mistake that led to the loss of the architectural monument, but the real opportunity to restore the temple in its original form appeared only after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Holy Resurrection Church in Vitebsk

Today the church exists in the form in which it was built by the Uniates in 1772, but confessional belongs to the Orthodox Church. Those who want to make a pilgrimage to the holy places of Vitebsk or just take a closer look at the beautiful building will be amazed by its perfect proportions and the beauty of the interior decoration, created by the art of local artists.

Monument to Prince Olgerd

Monument to Prince Olgerd in Vitebsk

Directly opposite the Resurrection Church is an equestrian statue depicting the Lithuanian Prince Olgerd with a falcon in his hand. This historical figure is immortalized in bronze not by chance, because it was under Olgerd Vitebsk became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and from a small town turned into a full-fledged administrative unit with stone defensive fortifications. In addition, the prince ordered the construction of the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit and the rebuilding and repair of the Church of the Annunciation.

Monument to Prince Olgerd in Vitebsk

Olgerd’s influence on the subsequent existence of Vitebsk was so strong that in 2014 it was decided to capture the prince’s image through the ages and erect a personal monument to him, which blended seamlessly into the landscape of the old part of the city.

St. Barbara’s Church

St. Barbara's Church - Vitebsk

It is not only Orthodox churches that have adorned Vitebsk from the beginning – St. Barbara’s Church, combining features of Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque style, joyfully aspires to the sky with its sharp spires. Its consecration in honor of the Christian saint who saves from instant death was carried out immediately after its completion in 1785.

The temple was so popular with parishioners that at the end of the 19th century it was decided to rebuild the old building, which could no longer accommodate all suffering heavenly grace. The development of the new design of the church was entrusted to V. Piotrowski, who created a three-nave basilica of bright red brick with two two-tiered towers decorating its facade.

Currently, the church is fully restored and receives both Catholic believers and tourist groups under its vaults.

Botanical Garden

Vitebsk - attractions - Botanical Garden

Among the interesting places of the city is the Vitebsk Botanical Garden – a large oasis, reliably hiding in its green embrace of all those who want to hide from the noise and crowds of city streets for a while. It was laid in 1797 and at that time was called Verebievsky (after the name of its founder). In 1919, the School Garden was opened here, where schoolchildren and students interested in botany could learn something new about gardening and floriculture.

Since 1921, the Botanical Garden becomes a branch of the Vitebsk Agricultural College and literally blooms – local plants and delicate southern flowers are planted here, greenhouses and hothouses are arranged, excursions are conducted for all comers…

Alas, during the Great Patriotic War the garden was completely destroyed. It took considerable effort and a long time to restore it, but the result surpassed all expectations and today the Botanical Garden of Vitebsk is rightly considered the most beautiful green area in the entire city.

City Sculpture of Vitebsk

Sights of Vitebsk: description, photos

On the way to the main sights of Vitebsk any tourist can notice small sculptural compositions that suddenly appear before the eyes, causing a variety of emotions. One cannot look at the memorial called “The Pain” erected in memory of those who served in Afghanistan without tears. No machine guns, swords, or shields, just a mother’s grief over her son’s bandaged body. Or here – the memorial sign “To the Children of War” in the Park of Partisan Glory. Two puny figures looking to each other for salvation and looking with hope for the last piece of bread…

Marc Chagall Sculpture in Vitebsk

Many of them, little gems of bronze and stone, are scattered around the city and the neighborhood, and not all of them are so sad. Here is a monument to Marc Chagall with the poetic title “Vitebsk melody for French violin”. Here’s a cute bronze do-gooder playing the harmonica, and next to him a trained poodle is dancing – this is the sculpture called “Wandering Musician” next to the Summer Amphitheater.

And here is the sculpture “Greeters” on the first platform of the Railway Station – a lady in a light dress and a fashionable hat, holding an elegant companion under her arm. The gentleman looks at his watch, and his lady’s eyes are fixed on the railroad. Who are they so impatiently waiting for? Could it be you?

Video overview of the sights of Vitebsk

Map of Vitebsk with sights

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