How to use this Guide
Open Belarus was inspired by the Ice Hockey World Championship that took place in Minsk in May 2014, attracting thousands of ice hockey fans from all over the world. However, the stories posted here will be instrumental for travelers visiting Belarus at any time.
Open Belarus is an alternative travel guide for active people, willing to know more about the world around. This guide is for those who don’t expect everything to be planned for them by a tour operator – be it a foreign tourist, a nostalgic émigré, a student, a businessman, a journalist, a bride or a fiancé or just an adventure-seeker.
Our audience is active people. Why?
We think that all tourists can be divided into two categories: “active” and “passive” ones. “Passive” tourists rely on tour operators and guides and expect to receive certain services that are included in their tour price. They choose to travel from one sightseeing point to another based on suggested proven routes.
Therefore, most “passive” tourists will never come to Belarus. It doesn’t have sea, and the infrastructure for tourism is a bit underdeveloped.
But we meet “active” tourists every day. They look for a good club or theatre, ask for help with too many pictures and signs on the Belarusian currency, try different kinds of cheese or milk in our supermarkets or attempt to translate Belarusian street signs. These people do not rely on stereotypes that depict Belarus as a closed, or even dangerous, country. Instead, they choose to see with their own eyes what happens there. This guide is for these people, whom we want to thank for their interest and trust.
This guide is not structured around any specific sites or objects in Minsk or other cities. Instead, we decided to offer you a guide based on your needs and things that interest you. In a way, each of the topics here is like a door to Minsk. Choose yourself which door to open.
If you’re a religious person, check our overview of religions and places of worship in Minsk.
Journalists and anyone interested in human rights are invited to read a guide to Belarus news for English-speakers – however, you will find relevant content in every other article on this webpage as well.
In some cases, we asked our local cultural experts for assistance. For instance, Siarhei Chareŭski presents his view on the history of Minsk, while Sieviaryn Kviatkoŭski presents the alternative reality of Minsk in everyday life.
The story on religious Minsk will help you to understand the multi-confessional nature and past of our capital.
To make sure you don’t get lost, die of hunger, sleep under the bridge or come back from Minsk without any souvenirs, we offer you manuals on how to get around in Minsk and what to buy. However, we’re not trying to present a comprehensive picture of all possible shops, routes and eating spots in Minsk: this information is widely available on other informational portals. Instead, we offer you insights from the locals who visit these places daily or take their foreign guests there.
Moreover, we are going to add to our routes suggestions for other cities in Belarus, since many visitors are looking for the best way to see the “real country” outside its capital.
Photo: Siarhei Hudzilin
This guide teaches you how to fish instead of giving you a fish on a plate. Use our advice as guidelines and explore Minsk and the rest of Belarus on your own. If, after spending some time in Belarus, you decide that we have misinterpreted some things or forgotten to write about some exciting places or phenomena, contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Our project is non-for-profit and we don’t get paid for mentioning or ignoring some sites or venues. All information is based on open sources. We are happy to praise many things but we also have the right to criticize others.
Who are “we”? Open Minsk was the first project of Labirynty (Labyrinth) group. You can find out more about our group and its members in special sections on this webpage. This group unites people of different professions and languages who share the common passion about their native country.
Last but not least, we’re happy to share with you links to other websites and sources that help us to learn more about Minsk and Belarus.
We hope you’ll enjoy a journey with us and will share with us our enthusiasm and excitement about opening Minsk – and Belarus as a whole – to new people.