The sights of Braslaŭ
Braslaŭ is a small and cozy city surrounded by lakes. The history of Braslaŭ:
• 3000 B. C. – the most ancient human traces in Braslaŭ district were found at Dubki Neolithic site near Braslaŭ.
• IX century - Braslaŭ was included in the Principality of Polack. The following strongholds were founded: Braslaŭ, Drysviaty, Maskovičy, and Ratiunki.
• 1065 – the first mention of Braslaŭ
• 1244 – the battle between Mindaugas and Tovtil near Braslaŭ
• 1386 – the first mention of Druja
• 1500 – the first mention of Opsa
• 1554 – an inventory of Braslaŭ city was taken.
• 1649 – a description of Braslaŭ castle was made.
• 2 June 1792 – Braslaŭ had its Magdeburg rights restored and received its coat of arms.
• September 1915 – the first battles between Russian and German troops in the territory of Braslaŭ district
• June 1941 – the territory of Braslaŭ district was occupied by Nazi invaders.
• 3 July 1944 г – the beginning of liberation of Braslaŭ district from Nazi invaders
• 1967 – the first folk art festival “Braslavskie Zarnitsy”
• 10 October 1995 – creation of the National Park "The Braslaŭ Lakes"
• 22 August 2009 – coronation of the icon of the Blessed Virgin of Braslaŭ
• 2010 – the first festival “Mieč Bračyslava” (the sword of Bračyslau)
• 29 August 2013 – opening of the new building of Braslaŭ bus station
• 2019 – construction of the recreation area at the beach was finished.
The Castle Hill is the heart and the historical centre of Braslaŭ. This is where the city grew from. Once there was a castle and a church here, but unfortunately, they have not been preserved. Today this is historical legacy, the second largest site of an ancient settlement in Belarus with an unbelievable view of the city and lake Dryviaty. All excursions start from the Castle Hill: this place is inhabited by the heroes of the legend about Braslaŭ, and there is also a monument to the renowned doctor from Braslaŭ named Stanislav Narbut. When in Braslaŭ, make sure to see the sunrise or the sunset from the Castle Hill.
Not far from the Castle Hill, there is the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin and the Church of Holy Assumption standing in front of each other.
The cathedral was constructed in 1824 and was expanded over time. The present temple was erected in 1897 and some parts of the original walls have been preserved. What is interesting about the cathedral? It has unique masonry: its walls have small stones embedded between large ones creating unique patterns. Such masonry technique is called “razynkavaya” (“razynka” is translated from Belarusian as “raisin”). The cathedral stores the icon of Our Lady of Lakes. In 2009, the icon was crowned (it is the first crowned icon in Viciebsk region and the seventh in Belarus).
Every year on the last weekend of August, a holiday in honor of the coronation of the icon is held, which gathers pilgrims from different cities of Belarus and abroad.
In the center of Braslaŭ, historical buildings constructed in 1924-1926 have been preserved. They form a complex of 18 buildings in the "Zakopane" style. The complex was designed by the famous Polish architect Juliusz Kłos. Most of the buildings have remained intact, but many of them have not been preserved in their original form.
Like in many cities, in Braslaŭ you can make a wish, and it will definitely come true. To do this, you need to find the Fish near the city beach, touch it, make a wish and walk down the Road of wish fulfillment.
Every summer, the following festivals are held here: the music and sports festival "Viva Braslav" (end of July - the beginning of August), the festival of medieval culture “Mieč Bračyslava” (end of May - the beginning of June), the international folk art festival “Braslavskie Zarnitsy” (end of May - the beginning of June), the festival in honor of the coronation of the icon of Our Lady of Lakes (the last weekend of August).
Mount Majak (translated from Belarusian as "the Lighthouse") near the village of Kieziki
This is the most popular tourist destination. It offers spectacular views of the lakes. Mount Majak (the Kieziki Mountains) is surrounded by a complex of kames (hills), each having its own name.
Mount Majak is the highest hill — 44.7 m above the lakes and 174 m above sea level. Why is it called "the Lighthouse" if there is no lighthouse? At the beginning of the XX century, there was a geodesic lighthouse, which locals simply called “the lighthouse”. Later, this name stuck to the hill, which had been previously called Biznia. Today, there is an observation tower installed on Mount Majak, and there is a complex of camping sites nearby, where you can comfortably stay in a tent.
By the way, at dawn, if you are lucky, you can take a selfie with a moose here.
We are going towards Druja
Approximately 10 km away from Braslaŭ, there is one of the smallest and most mysterious lakes of Braslaŭ district - lake Božje Voka (the God's Eye). Until the 2000s, locals called it Chortava Voka (the Devil's Eye).
The lake is easy to find – just do not miss the road sign "Litoŭščyna", pull over, climb the hill, and you will see an almost perfect little circle of the Božje Voka. Why is it mysterious? There are many legends about its origin and name.
The next stop is the ancient settlement of Maskovičy. It is an archaeological site of the Viking age.
The village of Maskovičy has no architectural or archaeological monuments. On the outskirts of the village, there is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by lakes. Here you can enjoy picturesque views of lakes and see the silhouette of the cathedral in Slabodka and the asar ridge. In August, it is an ideal place to watch the starfall.
Slabodka asar ridge is a great place for those who love eco-tourism and nature. There is a walking route, which is about 5 km long (can be traversed on a bike).
Slabodka. This place is mainly known for its cathedral. The Cathedral of Providence is one of the most beautiful temples in Belarus. The cathedral is snow-white and has colorful stained-glass windows. The doors of the cathedral are an example of monumental and decorative art and blacksmithing. The entire interior is decorated with depictions of biblical scenes and ornaments.
Druja. There is a lot to see here: the Barisaŭ Stone, one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Belarus, the former residence of the Sapiehas, the old park, the Trinity Cathedral, the ancient Druja temples, the only railway station in Braslaŭ district. You can see the European Union, namely Latvia, across the Western Dvina. Every summer, an art plein-air is held in Druja.
We are going towards Vidzy.
The village of Opsa is 20 km away from the city. What places are there to see? The Plyaters' Manor is a monument of estate and park architecture. The manor is interesting for its rich history and the personalities of the owners. Unfortunately, now it is in a dilapidated state.
On the way to Vidzy, you can stop in Drisviaty (border area, coordination with the border service is required). The village is located on the shore of lake Drisviaty near the intersection of the borders of three states – Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus. There is a unique temple here — the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. What is interesting about it? Its architecture. This is the only temple of this type: a monument of wooden architecture with elements of the Art Nouveau style.
Next to the temple, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the island where the castle stood, and you can also see the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (Lithuania). Fans of industrial tourism can stop by and see the "Druzhba Narodov" hydroelectric power plant (the building is under conservation).
When approaching Vidzy, you can see the main attraction of the town — the 59 meters high Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which is the second highest cathedral in Belarus. Not only is this temple interesting for its impressive size, but also for its rich history. In addition to the cathedral, you can see the Orthodox and the Old Believer churches, the former watermill, as well as visit the grave of Tomasz Vovzhetsky. On the outskirts of the village of Vidzy, pillboxes have been preserved.
3 km from Vidzy, in Vidzy–Laŭčeyskija, there is an old manor of the Vovzhetskys (late XVIII-early XIX centuries). At that time, the first health resort with hydrogen sulfide springs in Belarus was opened here. The manor has been preserved to this day (it is in a dilapidated state). The history of the estate is closely linked to famous persons and important historical events.