Minsk history by Siarhei Chareŭski

Minsk exists in the endless chain of our personal experiences. We can imagine Minsk the way we want, since there is nothing much of Minsk left in the reality. On the other hand, what could possibly survive in the city, the first mention of which describes its destruction? When Minsk became part of the Russian Empire, it had 39 stone residential houses. When USSR was pronounced in 1921, 117 thousand people lived in Minsk. Now, there are two million people more. Probably, no other city in Europe grew as fast as Minsk. Even if the whole old city stayed untouched, the old-fashioned Minsk would occupy only 3% of modern Minsk’s territory. You are free to make assumptions and make up the history of Minsk – just the way I have done.


Just like Rome, Minsk was built on seven hills. The oldest was Zamkavy Hill (Castle Hill) – it overlooked the confluence of Niamiha and Svislač rivers. The second one was Zboravy Hill that now accommodates the Upper Town with Svabody square. The third one was Trajeckaja (Trinity) Hill that is nowadays home to the Minsk Opera building. The fourth one was Staražouskaja or Piarespinskaja Mountain, now home to hotel Belarus. The fifth one was Zmiejeva Mountain, now Jubilejnaja square, the sixth one was Zavalny Hill (now Valadarskaja street) and, finally, the seventh one was Sviatoje Miesca (The Holy Place), now Kalvaryjskija Cemetery.

We all know that Rome was founded by wolf-raised Romulus; Kiev was founded by forest-grown Kiy… Old Miensk was founded by Mianiesk, an epic hero who built a mill with seven wheels on the banks of Svislač River. The mill made flour out of stones instead of wheat. No one ever saw Mianiesk in the daylight, but everyone knew that at midnight Mianiesk rode his seven-wheel mill and hired warriors able to eat his bread made of stone-flour. Those warriors and their descendants settled around the magic mill.

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