Ivan Makarov
Ivan Makarov

Discovering the first national poet of Belarus, Janka Kupala

3 minutes to read

If you ask a Belarusian about a famous Belarusian writer or poet, most of them will answer “Janka Kupala and Yakub Kolas". You might not know their poems by heart, but you would come across their names nationwide. A metro station, a museum, a park in Minsk, and a university in Grodno are named after Janka Kupala. Streets in 21 Belarusian and 17 foreign cities bear his name as well. Discovering the first national poet of Belarus, Janka Kupala, will get you one step closer to understanding the Belarussian culture. The museums in Minsk and Viazanka will tell his story and explain the significance of his contribution to our culture. 

State Literary Museum of Janka Kupala in Minsk

This museum stands at the location of Janka Kupala’s residency from 1927 to 1941. A massive fire after bombardment destroyed the whole area, in 1941, after Janka Kupala’s tragic death in Moscow. His widow gave her life to collecting the poet’s legacy and opened the museum under a tree shade of Janka Kupala Park. 

© Ivan Makarov
© Ivan Makarov

These insights may seem pretty dark, but only till you start chatting with the staff. The ticket-sellers and tour guides are both in love with Kupala and are always excited with foreign visitors. You will learn the author’s ups and downs, learn the poem that inspired Yuriy Gagarin to become the first man in space, and will see the first national poet of Belarus reading his poem. The entrance fee is 6 BYN (3 EUR/USD), reduced to 1 BYN on the 3rd Monday of the month. You can rent an audio guide in English, Chinese, French, German, or Slovak for 2 BYN.

State Literary Museum of Janka Kupala in Minsk
State Literary Museum of Janka Kupala in Minsk
st. Yanki Kupaly 4, Minsk, Belarus

Kupala Memorial Museum and Reserve in Viazanka 

The "reserve" status means that territory around the museum should stay in the same condition as during the Kupala’s childhood. Walk around to feel the beauties that kept inspiring the poet throughout his life. The entrance fee is 4 BYN. Before planning a trip to Vyazanka, check the train schedule at the railroad web-page. It will take you about an hour to get to the village and will cost you around 1 BYN (0,5 EUR/ USD). After you leave the train, go straight and right, Viazanka's Janka Kupala Reserve Area is just a 5-minute walk away.

© kupala-museum.by/unknown author
© kupala-museum.by/unknown author

Every year museum celebrates the “Kupalle” holiday, to which Ivan Lutsevich (the real name of the famous poet) owes his pen-name. He was born on the 25th of June in 1982, the Summer Solstice Day. For centuries the Slavs have celebrated this event by getting together, weaving wreaths and launching them at the river, jumping over a bonfire, singing songs, and looking for mysterious fern flower. After writing his first poem, Ivan Lutsevich decided to use the holiday’s Belarusian title as his pen-name. In 1918, USSR adopted the Gregorian calendar and literally “time skipped” from 31 of December to the 14th of January. Since this two-week shift, we’re celebrating “Kupalle” and Janka Kupala’s birthday on the 7th of July. The museum is mixing traditional festivities with readings and excursions.

Kupala Memorial Museum and Reserve in Viazanka
Kupala Memorial Museum and Reserve in Viazanka
Vyazenka Belarus

If you want to experience more of Janka Kupala’s life, there are 3 additional museum branches that you can visit in Levki, Yakhimoushchyna and Haruzhantsy villages. The "Levki" Museum renewed its exposition in 2015. Kupala was riding Chevrolet car, the exposition's highlight, to his dacha (summer house) from 1935 to 1941. The "Yakhimoushchyna" branch is the only place where the original house survived until now. The "Akopy" Museum of Janka Kupala in Haruzhantsy puts stress on his theatre plays. Please note, the information there is only in Russian. Discovering the first national poet of Belarus, Janka Kupala, is possible on all days from 10:00 to 17:00 except Sundays for Minsk and Mondays for the museum branches.

And, say, who goes there? And, say, who goes there  In such a mighty throng assembled, O declare  Belarusians

The author

Ivan Makarov

Ivan Makarov

Pryvitanne, I’m Ivan. Would you like to explore unknown Belarus with me? I’ve been living in other countries for a while, and now I’m back to help my homeland in showing its best by sharing personal and entertaining stories with you.

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