Cathedral of the Holy Ghost © EugeneZelenko
Dating back to the 10th century, Minsk is the capital
of Belarus and one of Europe's oldest cities. But it presents a
surprisingly modern aspect today, with most of its historic
buildings having been flattened during World War II.
Minsk was rebuilt as a showpiece Soviet city and
little has changed since then. Wide boulevards and squares lined
with grandiose block-style buildings along the Svisloch River,
interspersed with war memorials and Soviet symbols.
There are nightclubs and casinos full of mirrors and
lights; restaurants with steel and glass levels; theatres oozing
baroque both on and off-stage; and a variety of incredibly themed
health spas where waterfalls cascade into indoor pools.
The present of Minsk is interesting but so is the
past. Because of its central eastern location between Poland and
Ukraine, this city has been a European battleground over the
centuries, suffering at the hands off the Russian Tsar's troops in
the 1600s, Peter the Great and Sweden in the 1700s, Napoleon, and