The history of this land is also rich – because it was here where the Principality of Polotsk, the first state in the territory of the modern Belarus, appeared. Due to the amazing atmosphere of these places, the world learned about great enlighteners such as Euphrosyne of Polotsk, Francysk Skaryna, Symeon of Polotsk. It was here where inspiration was drawn by artists – Marc Chagall, Kasimir Malevich, Ilya Repin. Vitebsk and Polotsk have long become recognized centers of cultural tourism for both Belarusians and foreign tourists. But if you have already been there, it’s high time to choose a non-typical route combining history and modernity.
A trip to Smolyany, a small agricultural settlement, which is locally known as Smol’yany, will help us to get acquainted with its rich history. There was a time when the Bely Kovel castle built by Prince Sanguszko-Kowelski was located there.
This was a large white-colored quadrangular fortress with a gated yard and towers. The apocalyptic ruins of a faceted tower, an adjacent building and a moat remained from the castle. The preserved elements of the Renaissance decor can be seen from the outside.
Here, in Smolyany, the abandoned church of the Virgin Mary – once “the pearl of this land” of the 18th century – is located.
The church was closed in 1832 during the struggle of the Russian Empire with the culture and the Catholic faith of the local population. Massive walls and somewhere window frames – this is all that has remained from the church.
The Savior Transfiguration Church, a monument of wooden architecture of the 18th century, is an active church. It is interesting not only for its rather complex shape, but also for the fact that the main wooden building of the church stands on an underground stone crypt, which is two centuries older. Despite the fact that there was a distillery under the Soviet regime, the amazing painting “The Twelve Apostles” has been preserved inside the church. The special atmosphere of peace and light that reigns under the arches of the church attracts people from anywhere in the country during the Orthodox holidays.
Once, in Orsha, there was the Rogvolod Stone, the inscription on which was made in 1171. Regretfully, this heritage site also shared the same destiny as Bely Kovel – the stones became debris and fell apart. Orsha was a wedding gift to the Vitebsk princess, the bride of Prince Algirdas. On this land, the jig was over for Prince Vseslav the Seer who was captured on a plot of land and put to prison. An in 1812, the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in the Jesuit collegium.
Interesting museums, beautiful temples, exhibition halls and art galleries are concentrated in the center of Orsha, which is very convenient for individual tourism. When coming to the city, be sure to visit such places of interest: