Travel and Art. Urban sketching. Minsk, Belarus.
Minsk is my motherland city and this is why it was a very special project. There were two challenges for this project. One was a typical traveler’s one. “Be a tourist in your own city”, very popular nowadays. The second part of the challenge is an artistic one; the size of my mini album is about 9×13 cm (4×5 inches), which got filled just within 7 days and 25 pages with sketches of my favorite places, districts and aspects of Minsk
A luminous horse with a carriage of Cinderella is on Freedom Square in Minsk
A little bit of history. The Belarusian capital turned 950 years old. It is customary to begin the history of the city from its first mention in a written source. Such is the “Tale of Bygone Years.” Minsk is mentioned there in connection with the battle on the Nemiga River, which occurred on March 3, 1067. For my project I decided to paint my favorite city’s statues. I would divide all the city sculptures into two main types: from the Soviet past (most often they are monumental and serious), and the decorative type (my favorite: light, and elegant and sometimes designed with humors, which do not protrude from the interior of the district, but become part of the green city).
Statue of the dancing ballerinas near the Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Minsk Two tired ballerinas sat down to rest on a bench at the service entrance of the theater. They float on stage with ease, and it seems easy. But this is hard work.
Ballerina got tired, but after the performance you can relax, throw off pointe shoes and stretch your legs, looks so real!
Park and elegant statue of Lady of the Opera House
All my paintings are made from my favorite city places; we walked with my dad and daughter around squares, so that they are present as characters, passerby and members of my family at the same time.
Park Opera House in Minsk, golden autumn
The Playing Children sculpture is near city library near Bogdanovicha street and Very Horuzhei, greenery district. The breath of new life within sculpture on the city streets appeared quite recently, about 30 years ago. Primary pedestals were replaced by genre sculptures.
Statue of a Stork, this bird is a symbol of Belarus. People’s Friendship Park
In the Belarusian folk tradition, a stork is a sacred bird, a connecting link between heaven and earth, the steward and custodian of crops, heavenly fire and other celestial elements. He protects from lightning and fire, but if offended, can harm a person, burn the house or throw a snake into the well. Therefore, killing a stork or ruining its nest is considered a bad omen. This bird occupies an important place in the rites and signs associated with the agricultural cycle.
Sculpture Lady with a Dog, near central Minsk’s Market Komarovka. It is believed that this Chekhov-inspired composition also fulfills wishes.
There are several sculptures in the open-air market: “Lady with a Dog”, “Photographer”, “Horse and Sparrow” and the famous “Merchant of seeds.”
These sculptures aren’t spared: as a tradition, all those taking photos need to rub the muzzle of a dog for good luck. The photographer rubbed his left boot, hat and camera.
Chekhov’s lady poses against the backdrop of Komarovka, and the photographer gives her another bow: “Give me a smile, Madame! Say ‘cheese’!”
Minsk’s market Komarovka, one of the most beloved sculptures by local people and tourists, polished to a bronze shine. Grandmothers with seeds are the ideal embodiment and the engine of trade. This sculpture is the Komarovka’s “Baba Raya”, or “Trading in seeds.” The local merchants came up with an omen: if you sit next to the sculpture until sunrise, then luck in trading awaits you the whole day (presumably, specifically when it comes to selling local produce: one of the smallest forms of entrepreneurship in Slavic countries). According to the old-timer merchants of Komarovka, there is no particular legend about “Baba”, but many people come to “pray” to her, especially when the business is not going well.
Trinity suburb, a sculpture called “Belarusians abroad”
It is dedicated to the Belarusians, who are away from their homeland but their soul remains with their homeland. A bronze structure is made in the form of a wheel – the oldest Slavic symbol that personifies the sun, the earthly circle of life, eternity.
Troickoe predmest’e. Monument to Jazep Drozdovich, local historian,archaeologist and ethnographer, astronomer and artist
A man with an easel confidently walks on the Belarusian land. In the crown of a tree behind him, pointed spires of towers, domes of temples soar up, a proud horseman rushes off somewhere on a fast horse. The “Eternal Wanderer”, as his contemporaries called him, he painted his dreams about Moon, Mars and Saturn in order to understand and depict the inner cosmos.
The artist is depicted as a wanderer, because during all of his life he never owned a house of his own. Yazep spent his whole life traveling, during which he made sketches of Belarusian towns and cities. In addition, Drozdovich was the first artist to paint on the topic of space. In terms of his contribution to the development of space subjects, he is placed on a par with Gagarin and Tsiolkovsky. It is for this reason that two shooting stars are depicted on the monument, and, as you know, whoever sees the shooting star can make a wish.
“Remember, I’m calmed up with taboos, Zorka Venus has come.” The lines written by one of the best romantics poet Maxim Bogdanovich, who was born here in the Trinity suburb. Maybe that’s why the Trinity Suburb has such a distinctly romantic atmosphere.
The Trinity suburb, although it is now the very heart of the city, it still has historical name ‘suburb’). It has plenty of cafes with local food that our ancestors used to have on their dinner table.
Home-made Soup and bliny’s. Cafe “Old City”, address Bogdanovicha 19
Famous Krambabulja with pork, an old Belarusian alcoholic beverage: tincture with honey, spices and herbs. Its history dates back to the 16th century, during the Time of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. For centuries, this festive drink with a profound taste has been an indispensable attribute for home dining and lavish feasts of wealthy nobility and noble tycoons. The high price of spices made Krambabulja a festive drink, a drink of nobility. And the nutritious properties of its composition (including herbs and spices) made it not only a favorite for its taste and aroma, but also irreplaceable when attempting to eliminate the consequences of the abundant feast, something much valued by our ancestors. Have yummy pork rolls and machanka, a legend of the Belarusian cuisine, with your Krambabulja.
Tea time, in a little cafe Union Coffee near the circus, address Janki Kupaly, 17
This statue is a Dancer on a horse near Circus. Minsk is one of the few cities that has a permanent building for its circus, the favorite place in my childhood.
Near Circus, Cloun statue
Sculpture Boy and Goose, Aleksandrovskiy Square, address Engelsa, 7
It is a part of famous sculptures’ serial. The sculpture was made in the 19th century. An interesting fact is this sculpture has more than 200 hundred copies in the world.
Fragment of sculpture Boy with a swan.
A water supply system with clean artesian water was launched in Minsk in the 19th century. In memory of this event, the first fountain in the city was installed in Alexandrovsky Square. City rumor attributes the authorship of the romantic sculpture “The Boy Playing with a Swan” to the Italian sculptor Lorenzo Bernini. Of course, it is not true…
There is another old part of city called Upper City (Verhnij gorog) , Nemiga river
Upper City. Statue Voight
Opposite the town hall of Vojt (the head of the magistrate) with the key to the city and the royal letter, and at his feet there is a map of old Minsk of the 16th century.
The local legend states that Voight’s key brings good luck. Although tourists often ask him not for luck, but for keys to a new condo, the myth says that if you hold on to this key, sooner or later you will receive the treasured key for your new home.
Sculpture Crew, Upper City
Near the town hall on Freedom Square there is a bronze “Crew” harnessed by a pair of horses, which in its size and appearance corresponds to the phaetons of the 19th century. It was in this place 200 years ago that the Minsk mayor could ride. The city’s legend is if you sit in it – you will find happiness in a full bowl.
They say that sometimes, when people take pictures in this carriage, there are people from other eras appearing in the background of the photo. There is even a legend: if the newlyweds ride in this carriage, then the happiness and longevity of their family life is guaranteed for many years. Well, it’s also useful for travelers to sit in the carriage before a long trip – this will bring good luck on the trip and a lot of positive emotions. And if you need even more luck, reach for the ears of horses that are pulled into a bronze stroller, and you can make a wish and it will come true.
Sculpture City scales, Upper City, Freedom Square
the monument is dedicated to obtaining the Magdeburg Law of the city in Minsk in the 15th century. On one side of the pedestal is the seal of the Minsk City Hall with the coat of arms of the city. It has a “magic” bag of money. Those who believe in the urban legend that “rub the bag and get rich right away” have rubbed it to the “golden” radiance.
(The reason for obtaining the Magdeburg Law was that, in the event of a war, the citizens would defend not only the state, but also their “city independence”, their freedom.)
Sculpture Architect, address Nezavisimosti, 11
The sculpture is a figure of an architect in a toga with a roll of drawings under his left hand: the most famous architect of Minsk of all time, who invested his soul and talent in creating the architectural appearance of the city. He stands above the city and with his hand is above city buildings. The sculpture embodies the architectural development of Minsk: from wooden structures to monumental buildings. This sculpture was made for the 940th anniversary of Minsk.
Minsk map, 1797 year and picture of the beautiful and kindest young lady. A little secret, its a combination of old map and the drawing of my mama from our family album. On this photo mama was young girl 18 years old, a representative of Minsk’s youth after WWII.
Well, the goals are completed. Thank you to my Van Gogh’s watercolor painting travel box and the best quality travel mini album I bought in Rome last Christmas, 25 pages of which are showing Minsk’s modern, coloured and light sculptures, local friendly people and national food, different parts of Belarusian capital in Upper City (Verhnij Gorod), Opera House, local market Komarovka, Circus, Trinity suburb (Troickoe Predmest’e), city library and People’s Friendship Park.
Bon voyage! Until the next travel:)
All images belong to the author. No image is to be copied without permission.