Around Grodno-region: route «Relic of Grodnenshchina»

grodno-routGrodno Region keeps more historical and cultural monuments than any other region of Belarus the region’s culture and architecture bears the trace of a unique mixture of Russian, Belarusian, Polish, Lithuanian Jewish and Tartar customs and traditions.

The route will lead us along several places of global importance, as well as a number of less known but great sights.

We will visit the village of Volpa, the town of Ross, the ancient town of Volkovysk, the church of Synkovichi, Zhirovichi – the destination of pilgrims from the whole world, and the town of Slonim.

 

VOLPA

The village takes its name from the River Volpyanka. Local woods were rich in wild animals, so many kings and noblemen visited Volpa for hunting. Duke Kazimierz Sapieha used to welcome here king of Rzęch Pospolita. Till 1831 Volpa belonged to the Sapieha family. In the late 18th century king Stanisław August granted Volpa the right to self – government and an emblem – a beaver against a blue background. Today Volpa is the center of a small rural area. Close to the village there is Energetic Resort and a picturesque artificial lake.

In the center of Volpa there is a wooden Baroque cathedral of St John the Baptist which was built in 1773. The interior of the cathedral boasts of luxury – golden altar and columns, statues of the saints and an organ. The cathedral was built on the place of a wooden temple of the 16th century. In the late 19th century it was restored. The main jewel of the cathedral is its altar (1634 г.), which has a particular historic value. The 2-layer altar contains a Crucifixion icon and the sculptures of St Casimir and St John the Baptist. It is the biggest wooden cathedral in Belarus.

The village on the shore of the cognominal river was first mentioned in the second half of the 16th century. Near the village there was the estate of the Khodkevich family, which was destroyed during World War II. Currently the village has around seven thousand residents.

In the middle of the village there is the St Trinity Church which was built in 1912. The church has a pseudo-Russian style of architecture. It is a quadrangle building with a sacristy and a two-layer bell tower.

Not far from the church there is the St Trinity Cathedral, the construction of which in 1807 was sponsored by Sophia Paz. The white marble tomb in honor of the benefactor was installed here in 1881. The cathedral is richly decorated with biblical wall paintings, and the two- layer altar contains a wonder-working statue of Jesus Christ (Baroque, 17th century). Near the cathedral there is a bell tower (1908).

USEFUL INFORMATION

Altenburg cafe

Ross, 2b Solnechnaya St,

tel. (801512) 31052

Cosmos restaurant Ross, Karl Marx St,

tel. 801512 32251

 

VOLKOVYSK

The ancient town of Volkovysk is located on the bank of the river Volkovyya. It was first mentioned in chronicles in 1252. However, there was a mentioned Volkovyskn earlier written source dated 1005 (the chronicle by Joseph Trizna), which also. The town has a rich history, with historical ft monuments that date bath to the 10th century and the times tithe crusaders, Napoleon, flora the fascist invaders who attacked the Soviet Union in 1941. While staying in Volkovysk, you should visit the Swedish Mountain (where the town was founded), the museum of local history and culture, as well as the Cathedral of St Vaclav – the only Roman Catholic temple in the town (founded in 1848, restored in the 1930s).

In the center of the town there is the Church of St Nicholas founded

The Church of the Annunciation of the Holy Mother of God was built near the aforementioned church in 2000.

USEFUL INFORMATION

Berezka hotel Volkovysk, 7, Kail Marx St., tel. (801512) 23201

RestHomeService hotel Volkovysk, 130, Rokossovski SL, tel. (801512) 56021

RestHomeService hotel Volkovysk, 9, Lenin SL, tel.(8044) 4900437

Bos terminal 51a, Zholudev SL, tel. (801512) 45008

Railway station 51, Zholudev St., tel.(801512) 78229

Elite café Volkovysk, 31, Sevetskaya St., tel. (801512)21222

Berezka Belaya restaurant 7, Karl Marx St., tel. (801512) 25755

Vintage pizza bar Volkovysk, 13, Lenin SL, tel. (801512) 43178

Prestige bar Volkovysk, 2, Sovetskaya SL, tel. (801512)26607

Taverna bar Volkovysk, 18 Factory SL, tel. (801512) 25781

 

SYNKOVICHI

The village of Synkovichi is located on Volkovysk – Slonim highway. The main jewel of the village is a monumental fortress dedicated to Archangel Michael – a masterpiece of the Belarusian defense architecture. The names of the architects who con­structed the building are not known. Most probably the fortress was founded in the late 15th century of the earlv 16th century.

Throughout its long history, the fortress hosted Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Unites. In 1926 it was handed over to the followers of the Unite religion. After World War II the church was closed ant turned into a vegetable warehouse. In 1993 it once again became an Orthodox Christian church. The architecture of the church unites the features of Gothic and Byzantine styles. It has 1.5-metre-thick walls, loopholes, and arch-shaped windows that make the church look like an ancient castle.

The church has a prolonged quadrangle outline with three naves under one roof. All naves are equally high, covered with cross-shaped copes (star-shaped cope over the southern adder). The church is surrounded by towers with numerous loopholes that cover both close and distant targets. Inside each tower there is a staircase leading to the front loopholes.

The church has remained unchanged for several centuries. The only changes are the newly-built bell tower and the dome that was removed from the top of the building.

USEFUL INFORMATION

Zelvyanka hotel Zelva, 2, Zhebrak St., tel. (801564) 24094

Road Service Hotel Zelva, 29, Shosseynaya St., tel. (8029) 6144913

Zelvyanka restaurant Zelva, 6, Zhebrak St., tel. (801564) 24094

Molodezhnoye cafć Zelva, 24,17 Sentyabrya St. tel. (801564) 23554

Bely Parus cafe Zelva, 29, Shosseynaya St., tel.(8029) 6277467

Gannenski padvorak cafe Zelva, 28, September 17 St.

Lyasnichoyka cafć Zelva district, village Synkovichy

Bus terminalZelva, 17, Shosseynaya St., tel. (801564) 24248

 

ZHIROVICHI

 The history of Zhirovichi monastery began in the 15th century. In 1470 a wonderworking icon of the Holy Mother of Good suddenly appeared on w wild pear tree inside the estate of local magnate Alexander Soltan. There was founded a church and a settlement. Later the church was destroyed by fire, but the icon appeared in Zhirovichi again – this time it was presented to local children by Virgin Maria herself, as the legend says. The church was restored and then a monastery was built nearby.

In 1642 Zhirovichi received the status of a village and an emblem. During World War I the icon was taken to Moscow’s St Basil Cathedral, and in the 1920s it returned back to Belarus. Currently the icon is kept in the Monastery of Holy Assumption of Zhirovichi.

The Monastery of Holy Assumption of Zhirovichi was first mentioned in chronicles in 1587. From 1613 to 1839 the monastery belonged to the Basilian monastic order, and its first preceptor was Josophat Kuntsevich. From 1828 till 1839 the building hosted a Uniate seminary. After the Uniate church was liquidated, the monastery was handed over to the Orthodox Christian church and hosted an Orthodox Christian seminary till 1915. The monastery had a valuable collection of books and rare manuscripts which was later taken to St Petersburg. In the period between the two world wars were handed over to Roman Catholics. From the 1960s till the end of the 1980s it served as a residence of nuns from Grodno and Polotsk. The seminary was revived in 1989. Currently the monastery contains three churches, a seminary, a bell tower, a dining room, household buildings and dwelling rooms.

The Cathedral of the Holy Assumption (1629-1671) is situated nearby. In 1828 it was reconstructed and acquired the characteristics of Classicism. The interior paintings were made by a local artist, and the iconostasis of the cathedral belongs to the Baroque style. The Theophany Church is also part of the monastery. It was built at the place where the icon of the Holy Mother of God appeared for the second time in 1672 (1769 according to other sources). The church keeps the stone on which Virgin Maria appeared, according to the legend.

Behind the Theophany Church there is the Church of the Exhalation of the Holy Cross (Baroque). The quadrangle church contains an imitation of the Calvary with 28 infamous steps, which led Jesus Christ to Pontius Pilate.

Presently Zhirovichi is the destination of pilgrims from all over the world who come to see the wonderworking icon. The icon has been attracting a lot of public attention from the 17th century. The sixe of the icon is just 5,6 x 4,4 cm. A copy of Zhirovichy icon was found in one of the temples in Rome. In 1730 Pope Benedict XIII authorized the crowning of Zhirovichi icon, thus recognizing its wonderworking power.

USEFUL INFORMATION

Yelochka cafe, Zhirovichi, tel. (801562) 96212

 

SLONIM

Slonim was first mentioned in chronicles in 1252. The town has preserved the outline of the 17th century to the present day. A famous local resident В Michał Kazimierz Ogiński has turned the quiet rural town into a truly European place with a theater, typography and a number of workshops. The main sights of the town include St Andrew’s Cathedral, Spaso – Preobrazhenski Cathedral, the convent of Bernardines, the Holy Trinity Church, an ancient synagogue, the museum of local history and culture, Ogiński channel. Old mansions, quiet streets and green parks create a unique atmosphere of serenity.

Ogiński channel was built on the initiative of Michał Ogiński in 1767-1782. The 53-metre-long channel connects the rivers of Schara and Yaseld, that is, the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. Initially the channel served as a trade route. After the two world wars it was practically destroyed and its functioning was suspended.

St Andrew’s Cathedral (Baroque) was founded in 1775 and restored in the 1990 – s, the front of the cathedral is decorated with wavy lines, as well as the statues of apostles Peter and Paul. The main altar contains the icon of the Mother of God of Zhirovichi. The interior is decorated with biblical wall paintings. On the right side of the cathedral there is a former hospital (18th cent.).

Cathedral of the Virgin Birth, embraces a cathedral and a convent. It was built in 1664-1670. Later the cathedral burnt down and it was restored only in the 1720s. The ascetic exterior of the building conflicts with the luxurious Rococo interior that boasts of seven altars, an ambo and a confession box, all designed by famous master Johann Glaubitz.

The Holy Trinity Church was built in 1639-1645, with the construction being sponsored by Andrei Rydvan and his wife. The tombs of the sponsoring family are now situated under the altar of the church.

The construction of the synagogue in 1642 was sponsored by the local Jewish community. Sloriim’s synagogue is the oldest Jewish temple in Grodno Region. Judging by its 2-metre-thick walls and high- placed windows we may guess that it was used as a defense structure. Only the Baroque facade differs from the generally rigid style of the building. The interior of the synagogue is magnificently luxurious, however, presently the building is abandoned.

The old building of the City Hall, which currently hosts a library, deserves special mentioning. Previously that building contained a magistrate court, a guardhouse and town archive.

USEFUL INFORMATION

Veres restaurant Slonim, 100, Kossovski Highway, tel. (801562) 42294

Polonese reatsurant Slonim, 83, Krasnoarmeyskaya St, tel. (801562)42283

Slonim restaurant Slonim, 83a, Brestskaya St, tel. (801562) 54257

101 Etazh café Slonim, 25, Krasnoarmeyskaya St, tel. (801562) 47175 Oasis bar

Slonim, 17, Pervomayskaya St., tel. (801562) 21164 S chara cafe

Slonim, 19, Pervomayskaya St., tel. (801562) 23714

Zolotoi Feniks restaurant Slonim, 4, Karl Marx St., tel. (801562) 23390

Schara hotel Slonim, 19, Pervomayskaya St., tel. (801562) 54804

Venetsia hotel Slonim, 5, Bagration St, tel. (801562) 25932

Albertin hostel Slonim, Kolkhoznaya St, tel (801562) 31220

Bus terminal Slonim, 11, Vokzalnaya St, tel. (801562)25571

Railway etation Slonim, 11, Vokzalnaya St, tel. (801562) 25033

Travel information center Slonim, 37, Krasnoarmeyskaya St., tel (801562) 25134

 

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