My eyes are glued to the window of the bus when I arrive in Minsk: I do not have an image of the city in my head, and I feel like a small boy, full of curiosity. The bus drives down the 11km long Nyezhavisimosty Avenue, or Independence Avenue, and it is already in the outskirts of Minsk that I see remarkable apartment blocks with typical Soviet paintings on its walls, of workers, astronauts, and classic looking figures, in red and gold. Closer to the city, there are the big squares and monuments, and it is clear that I will walk this avenue. I do so later that day: I explore Independence Square, which is where Independence Avenue begins on its south side. The Belarusian Parliament Building, with a statue of Lenin in front of it, and big fountains in the middle; there is the City Council building on the other side, the main Post Office, as well as the red Church of the Holy Trinity.
The next day, I am back for another walk down Nyezhavisimosty Avenue, in the early morning. Now, there is not much traffic around, and the sun is starting to shine on the buildings on the west side of the broad avenue. Independence Square is empty now, and looks even grander than the day before: I feel minuscule among the square, tall buildings surrounding the square and creating a sense of immense space. The Church of the Holy Trinity barely towers above the building, but it looks smaller than it actually is. There is a bronze statue of St. George defeating the dragon. The fountains have birds on top, and shields with the names of the cities of Belarus. There are many sculptures and statues all along Independence Avenue.
After walking past the grand Hotel Minsk, I see the enormous KGB headquarters in a yellow, classical building with columns and statues that occupies an entire block. It is still in use under their Soviet-era name, and to detain those who dare to oppose the government of Belarus. It is a sobering thought that, behind those friendly looking walls in the middle of Minsk, people are held just because of their convictions. The next block has the well-known GUM store, and walking up the avenue one more block takes me to the October Square where the Palace of the Revolution is located, as well as the classical Trade Union Palace of Culture. Unfortunately, the next door Museum of the Great Patriotic War is still under reconstruction, so I continue to walk down Nyezhavisimosty Avenue, crossing the bridge to oval Victory Square, and with an obelisk in the middle. I backtrack the same Independence Avenue, and when I return to the city the late afternoon, retrace my steps again as the sun is now shining on the eastern side of the avenue; the Stalinist architecture still looks as impressive as it did in the morning.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Nyezhavisimosty Avenue (Belarus). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Nyezhavisimosty Avenue. Read more about this site.