Around 80% destroyed by World War II, Minsk is a prime example of a city rising like a phoenix through the ashes. The capital of Belarus is largely made up of huge, Soviet-bloc style buildings and is an ideal destination for those interested in learning more about Soviet Union. Perched between Svisla? and Niamiha rivers, the largest metropolis of the country is also the capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Kick-start the trip by heading over to two significant and important religious shrines. One of them is St. Mary Magdeline Church - built in 1847 in the Russian revival style - with a pointed octagonal bell tower over the entrance. Another interesting church to visit is Saint Peter & Saint Paul Church - erected in 1613 and restored in 1871. It is the most ancient church in Minsk.
Head over to the Victory Circus, housed in the historic centre of the city. It is home to museum of the 1st Congress of RSDRP, Main offices of National State TV and Radio and City House of Marriages. A green park runs from the Victory Circus to the river of Svislach and to the entrance to the M. Gorky Park. Victory Circus is a prominent landmark of Minsk. A 3-meter replica of the Order of Victory displays a 38 metre built in the hub of the circus. The monument was erected in 1954 to pay tribute to the soldiers of the Soviet Army and partisans of Belarus.
To those craving peace and tranquility, spend some time at Gorky Park - housed near Victory Square and Yanka Kupala Park. A portion of the park is home to an amusement park with a 56-meter high Ferris wheel. It also houses an educational observatory and planetarium. Another incredible place to visit is the Minsk Botanical Garden and feel free to get lost amidst the exotic plants, pyramid-shaped greenhouse and the collection of delicate orchids.
Animal lovers will enjoy visiting the Minsk Zoo - home to about 1343 mammals among 64 species, 213 birds in 47 species, 92 reptiles in 53 species, 19 amphibians in 6 species, 1927 invertebrates in 16 species and so forth. Some of the animals found there are: Steppe eagle, Eagle owl, Purple gallinule, Lynx, Brown bear, Southern coati, Egyptian fruit bat, Crab-eating macaque, Collared peccary, Lama and others.
When it comes to museums, some of the good ones are: Belarusian National History and Culture Museum (largest collection of monuments of material and spiritual culture of the Belarusian people from the ancient times to present days) and the Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum (talks about historical research in areas like: Belarusians in the Red Army, local anti-fascist and partisan activity, and the history of the Auschwitz death camp).
When it comes to shopping, be on the look-out for woven and embroidered linen goods, souvenirs made up on straw, wood and leather, hand-made pottery, Belarusian vodka and so forth. As for cuisine, local delicacies will be available in any of the restaurants dotted in the city. Be sure to sip on Kefir, a kind of sour milk, similar to yogurt and Krambambulia - a traditional medieval alcohol drink.
The stay options in Minsk are abundant with the richie-rich craving for the best luxury hotels and service apartments. Those who are light on the pocket can opt for budget and cheap accommodations.
Minsk experiences a warm summer hemiboreal humid continental climate. The best time to visit would be May, June, July & August when the temperatures are a little cooler and more pleasant.