Minsk is the capital of the Republic of Belarus. This is an old city that was first mentioned in chronicles in 1067. Not much remains from the ancient past except several buildings from the 17th century. The city was almost ruined during World War II, and later, in 1974, it was named a Hero City for its great sufferings.
The World War II period wasn't the only time when the city underwent armed attacks. Minsk also suffered during the Russian-Polish war in 1654-1667, and during the time when Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812.
In 1793, Minsk became the capital of the Province of Minsk, and formed part of Russia. Industrial development in Russia, and constuction of railroads assisted Minsk in its developing as a huge industrial center. Moscow-Brest and Libava-Romny railroads connected the city with Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states.
Since the beginning of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the rule in Minsk did change time and again. The foreign intervention caused irretrievable damage to Minsk. It was not until Minsk became the capital of one of the Union Republics that it managed to restore its former legacy.
Minsk lies along the Svislosh River at the very core of Belarus. It is a major transport center of the Republic with two airports, subway system and a railroad station.
Minsk is centrally located in the region with Moscow 750 km to the East and Warsaw 550 km to the West. Saint Petersburg is 900 km to the North and Kiev is 650 km to the South.
Today Minsk is a major city in Belarus, its economical, cultural and educational center. The Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the Belarusian Lenin State University are located here. Minsk is known for its art and cultural achievements as well. There are 16 museums and 11 theatres in the city. The most famous museums are the National Museum of Belarusian History and Culture, the National Arts Museum, the Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War and the Museum of Old Belarusian Culture. The Belarusian Ballet is something you shouldn' t miss.
Minsk has marvelous examples of Baroque architecture — the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (1642), and the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul (1613). Other great buildings include the Maryinsky Cathedral, Church of St. Mary-Magdalene (1847), St. Stanislaus Cathedral (1754).