10 Things You Didn't Know About Belarus

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1. The longest street in Belarus is Independence Avenue in Minsk. Throughout its history, it changed the name more than 10 times. This is one of the last mainline neoclassical architecture ensembles in the world, one of the longest streets in Europe.

2. We have oue own ghost! There’s a Black Dame of Nesvizh – the spirit of Barbara Radziwill, the wife of the King of Poland Zigimont August. The body of the queen rests in Vilnius, but the soul is more than four centuries, forced to toil in Nesvizh. During her life, Barbara was intelligent, educated and beautiful woman. According to rumors, the unfortunate queen was poisoned by Bona Sforza, who hated Radziwills.

3. Belarusian motives were used for the fashion show in Paris in 2015. Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli got their inspiration, among other things, from the paintings of a 'hopeless romantic' Marc Chagall. Belarusian traditional ornaments were stunning on the runway.

4. Belarus was one of the first nations in Europe to have its own printed Bible (1517). Belarus’ first printer Frantsysk Skorina started his publishing business in Prague where he printed 23 illustrated Bibles. They were published in the old Belarusian language. In the early 1520s he moved to Vilno where he founded a publishing house. It printed the Small Travel Guide and Book of the Apostles. Frantsysk Skorina's works were distinguished by high print quality, unique illustrations and distinctive typefaces.

5. Minsk — the capital city of Belarus — is the most economically developed city in the country. It is the industrial as well as the educational center of Belarus. The transportation system in the city is well developed and is supported by buses, trams and a metro system. Minks is the eternal city, it has been annihilated in 8 occasions in turbulent European history, and every time it was rebuilt like Phoenix! Also Minsk is older than Moscow, in fact oldest historical records mention it even in 1067.

6. The National Library of Belarus contains 8 million items of various media. Each day, the library sees more than 2,200 users and delivers 12,000 documents. It was founded on September 15, 1922.

7. Belovezhskaya Pushcha is the largest ancient forest in Europe. Antique historian Herodotus (fifth century B.C.) wrote about the forest. It was also mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle (in 983). In the late fourteenth century, Duke Yagailo of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania declared the forest a protected area and prohibited hunting there. The ancient forest has been protected for almost 600 years. There are nearly 2,000 giant trees in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, some of them pre-dating Columbus' discovery of America. The Belovezhskaya Pushcha has since been added into the UNESCO World Heritage List.

8. Belarus produced five Nobel prize winners. Step forward Svetlana Alexievich, Literature, 2015, Zhores Alferov, Physics, 2000, Shimon Peres, Peace, 1994, Menachem Begin, Peace, 1978, and Simon Kuznets, Economics, 1971.

9. Belarus was the “Silicon Valley” of the former USSR. Under the Soviet rule, Belarus was considered to be the “Silicon Valley”, because it used to manufacture over 50% of computers and computer parts of the USSR. Since 1960s, Belarus has also become a software development hub and is responsible for coining the term “programmnoe obespechenie” or “software” in Russian.

10. Pripyatski National Park is the only place where you can find primeval lowland oak-woods. The lowlands of the Belarusian Polesye have survived in their primeval state. Over 30 lakes are hidden in oak and ash-tree woods. Polesye’s natural marshes are the biggest in Europe. The largest marshes are Zvanets (150 square kilometres) and Dzikoye (80 square kilometers).

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