Belarus is a multi-confessional country: there are approximately 25 religious confessions. The most common is Christianity (Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Eastern Catholicism and Protestantism). Also, Judaism and Islam are confessed. The freedom of religion is protected by the Constitution.
Every year the number of believers of various faiths and the number of churches grows in Belarus. In addition to new and modern cloisters, there are so many unique ancient churches and cloisters survived in our country. We are going to tell you about the most interesting and unique of them:
Kolozha Church in Grodno is a unique architectural monument of the XII century with its own history. The church was built in honor of princes Boris and Gleb. Its name derives from the Kolozhan district in Grodno. The word “kolozhan” means a place overflowing with spring wells.
The uniqueness of this church is not only in its honorable age, but also in appearance. The church seems to consist of two parts: stone and wooden. It happened because of the big fire of 1184, that destroyed one part of the church. During the reconstruction there were decided to make the destroyed wooden: it was cheaper and had less chances of repeated destruction. Since then Kolozha Church has been staying this way on the bank of the Neman.
Troitsky Catholic Church in Gerviaty
Troitsky Catholic Church in Gerviaty is a unique sight not only of this small city, but of the whole country. The temple is built in the Gothic style with a clear symmetry, majestic spiers and graceful windows – all this makes the architecture of the church unusual for our country. The temple is built in the form of a cross. Architects and builders had to work hard, but thanks to that the church in Gerviaty survived two wars and did not changed.
The services in the Church of the Holy Trinity are still being conducted. They are in three languages: Lithuanian, Belarusian and Polish. This happens so, because the church unites three Catholic parishes at once.
Church of the Holy Trinity in the village of Shilovichi
There is a favorite place for many tourists in the small village of Volkovysk district – majestic Church of the Holy Trinity. The church was built over a hundred years ago instead of a wooden church. The times of construction are associated with the appearance of a wooden icon of the Mother of God, who tramples the devil; many believe that the icon had miraculous power. During the time of the church persecution the icon disappeared and was found many years later. Now it is kept in the National Art Museum.
The uniqueness of the church is that it is the highest one in Belarus. The height of its tower is 62 meters.
St. Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk
St. Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk is a vivid history of Belarus, one of the most ancient Belarusian temples. For the first time it was mentioned in the “The Tale of Igor's Campaign”. St. Sophia Cathedral was built in Byzantine style, but with the peculiarities of Polotsk architecture.
Today St. Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk is a cultural and educational center of Belarus. The temple is functioning: divine services, excursions, concerts and creative evenings are held here. The temple is a part of the National Polotsk Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve.
One of the oldest male monasteries is situated in Zhyrovichy. The history of its construction began almost 500 years ago. According to the legend the shepherds found a miraculous icon, later there was built a temple on that place. Rumors about the famous icon spread quickly, that made the pilgrims come there, and soon there appeared a monastery.
Today there is a theological seminary and 5 churches on the territory of the monastery. Everyone, who wishes, can come in Zhyrovichy monastery to rest and pray and, of course, learn its amazing history.
Saint Ephrosinia Convent
Saint Ephrosinia Convent is one of the first female convents in Russia. It was founded in the XII century by Euphrosyne of Polotsk. There were opened schools at the convent, where children were taught literacy, natural science and medicine.
The uniqueness of the convent is not only in historical, but also in spiritual and cultural significance. Saint Ephrosinia Convent is decorated with unique frescoes, which have been preserved since the XII century. Inside the church you can find an exact copy of the cross of Euphrosyne of Polotsk (the original one was lost during the war) and holy relics of hers. Every year the monastery hosts thousands of pilgrims.
Church of Saints Simon and Helena
Church of St. Simeon and St. Helena is one of the most beautiful Catholic churches in Minsk, that is also an architectural landmark of Belarus. The construction of the church dates back to the end of the XIX century and has a very tragic history. The temple was built for the money of the rich Belarusian Edward Adam Voynilovich. The only term was to sanctify the temple in honor of Simeon and Helen (Simeon and Elena Voynilovich were Voynilovich’s children, who passed away at the age of 12 and 18). The new church had an unusual architecture for Minsk: a high rectangular tower, as a symbol of eternal sorrow; small towers of the church received the names of the children.
Today Church of St. Simeon and St. Helena conducts services, concerts and excursions.
St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
Mighty and majestic St. Francis Xavier Cathedral immediately attracts the eye. It has been one of the most beautiful monuments of Baroque architecture and an architectural landmark of the city since the time of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The construction of the temple was marked with the Order of the Jesuits in the XVII century. The cathedral has not been changed over the three-hundred-year history.
Numerous tourists and parishioners today are attracted not only by the exterior, but also by the interior decoration of the cathedral. The identity of the cathedral is an amazing sanctuary. There is the oldest European pendulum clock in one of the towers, that is much older than the clock in Prague. There is a great number of legends about the cathedral. One of them says, that a shell hit the church during the war. It flew past the icon and did not explode. Residents believe that it was the icon, that saved the cathedral.
St. Nicholas Church in Kazhan-Haradok
St. Nicholas Church in Kazhan-Haradok was built in the XIX century for the money of a local nobleman. Several masters were engaged in the construction of this amazing church. It is unique, because it was built without a single nail.
Another distinctive feature of the church is its magnificent decoration, which is not typical for the temples of Polessie. The church inside is decorated with a great number of wooden details and sculptures. But from the outside it is Baroque stylized.
Church of St. Michael
Church of St. Michael is one of the oldest defensive churches in Belarus. The construction of the church began in the XV century by Prince Vitaut. He fled from his cousin Jagailo and hided in the forests of the Zelvinsk district. However, according to some historical information, the church can be three centuries older than it was supposed to be.
Today the miraculous icon of the Mother of God Vsezaritsa is kept in this amazing church. Hundreds of pilgrims come to it to pray. They say, it helps to heal from cancer.
Religious life in Belarus is rich, and the number and beauty of churches can only delight and attract. Each of them has many legends and secrets, is rich in historical events and spiritual power. Traveling to religious places, you will be definitely surprised, how many of the interesting and the surprising in Belarus.
Read about 4 the most beautiful castles in Belarus.
Travel with pleasure!