Minsk is one of the world's best examples of grand scale soviet planning. When the Soviet army recaptured Minsk from the Nazis in 1944, there was about nothing left of the city. Thus nearly all buildings in Minsk are post-WWII. The Soviets built uniform buildings with monumental façades, separated by wide streets and countless parks. As a result Minsk has a cosmopolitan, but clean atmosphere, unlike many cities in the former Soviet Union that are dirty and depressing.

The main promenade in Minsk is praspekt Skaryny. It is a very busy street and at its southwestern end you'll find ploshcha Nezalezhnastsi (Independence Square). The square is 500 m (1640 feet) long and lined with government buildings. The Polish Catholic Church of Saint Simon is also situated on the square. One of the most pleasant parks in Minsk is the Park Janki Kupaly, which is bordered by the Svislach River on two sides. Rowboats can be rented to go out on the river and nearby is the house, where Russia's Communist Party was (illegally) founded in 1898.

There are several good museums in Minsk. The Belarus National Museum of History and Culture has exhibitions Belarus' interesting history, while the Museum of the Great Patriotic War is specialized in the period of WWII and the horrors that occurred during that time. If you want to see 17th to 20th century paintings, you should visit the Belarusian State Art Museum.

West of praspekt Skaryny is the Old Town of Minsk. That area boasts some of the few remaining pre-WWII structures in the capital. In the Old Town, you will find the Baroque Cathedral of St Dukhawski, which was once part of a Polish Bernardine convent. The former monastery buildings have been restored and are now home to a music academy. On the eastern side of the Svislach River, several neighborhoods have been reconstructed in 17th and 18th century style, so you can get an idea of what Minsk would have been like if it wouldn't have been destroyed in WWII. There are many cafés, bars, restaurants and gift shops in that part of the city, as well as Saint Mary Magdeline Church, which was built in 1847. It has a distinctive pointed octagonal bell tower and a grand dome.

There are numerous hotels and restaurants in Minsk. The city lies roughly in the center of Belarus and has good rail and road connections with the rest of the country.

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Miscellaneous Information

Latitude:    53 54 N
Longitude: 27 33 E
Elevation:  225 m (738 ft.)

Population: 2,000,000
Cost-of-living compared to Washington D.C.: n/a

Hours from UTC: 2
Daylight savings time: n/a

City phone code: 172
Country phone code: 7

Average Weather Patterns

January-8.1°C (17.4°F)3.6 cm (1.42 in)
April4.4°C (39.9°F)3.8 cm (1.5 in)
July16.7°C (62.1°F)7.6 cm (2.99 in)
October5.3°C (41.5°F)3.8 cm (1.5 in)

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