In recent years, Belarus has become a popular destination for tourists from neighboring European countries due to the visa-free regime. But the spread of coronavirus in 2020 deprived many people of traveling opportunities. For many foreigners, Belarus looked exotic with its Soviet-style architecture in city centres on the one hand, and a number of Middle-Age churches and palaces on the other hand. Until the borders open, foreigners cannot immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the Soviet blocks and avenues combined with hipsters’ nightlife on the backstreets of Old Town. However, now this is the time to discover Belarusian historical pearls that usually become unnoticed. Here are the top five Belarusian sightseeing attractions that you can attend virtually.
The 16th-century castle belonged to the Radziwills, the richest family of its time originating from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The magnates who owned many villages and towns in Belarus and Lithuania brought a significant impact on the culture and art of Belarus. The last known representatives of the Radziwill family currently live in Warsaw. Nesvizh Castle, the residence of the Radziwills in the 16th-20th centuries, is a unique architectural masterpiece built in the baroque style. After massive restoration, the castle reopened in 2012; it has already hosted many public and private events. According to the legend, the ghost of Barbara Radziwill still lives in the castle and warns people of upcoming bad luck. Today the webpage of the historical site invites visitors to participate in a virtual tour that can be downloaded here.
Ruzhany Palace served as a residence of the Sapeha family in 17th-18th centuries and was destroyed during the two world wars. In times of the Sapehas, one of the trade paths was located nearby the palace. The basement of the residence stored the archive of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Since 2016, the palace has been included in the restoration program financed by the state. However, the condition of the one-day glorious defense construction remains very poor. But still, the abandoned palace in the southwest of Belarus is usually quite challenging to reach for the tourists.
Virtual tour around the palace is available at Belarus360.
The museum was founded in 1939 in Minsk; now it can boast of more than 30,000 artistic pieces from many times and regions. In the early 1940s, the museum workers made an unsuccessful attempt to evacuate exhibits. As a result, a large number of artifacts disappeared. Amid the outbreak of COVID-19, the museum was closed for the visitors at the beginning of May. Its expositions of Belarusian, Russian, European, and Oriental art are available at the museum’s web-page with the English description.
One of the Minsk’s popular sightseeing attractions before the pandemic, the Museum of Great Patriotic War, is a collection of pictures, letters, and war artifacts. It offers a unique view of the lives of people who were affected by the war of 22 June 1941 – 9 May 1945. A virtual tour allows online visitors to navigate in the halls of the museum and zoom in to discover each showpiece.
The national forest and park Belavezhskaya Puscha is located on the territory of Poland and Belarus. It is one of the wealthiest nature-related tourist experiences in Belarus. Dated back to the 12th century, Belavezhskaya Puscha was divided between different states and owners several times. Bisons bosanus that reside there were once hunting trophies for the kings and are currently under state protection in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania. Forest had several times suffered from deforestation, including the recent cases of trees logging in Belarus in the 2010s and in Poland in 2016. A virtual tour around Puscha can be found here.