When I asked my friend which city in Belarus is his top priority, he said it's Brest. Indeed, we learn so much about the Brest Hero-Fortress in school, that visiting it automatically gets to every Belarusian’s bucket list. The city center is full of XIX century buildings and different statues worth taking a picture. Local museums, restaurants, and clubs justify spending the whole weekend in Brest. The route I describe covers most of the sightseeing points there. To avoid confusion, try to pronounce it as «bryest» rather than «breast».
Brest has counted its history from 1019 when it was mentioned in the Tale of Bygone Years. To get introduced to the city’s reach history, you can start the tour at the Museum of History of the City of Brest. After the museum, go to the First of May Park nearby and ride Ferris wheel for a great view of the city center, churches, and the fortress.
Walk down Lenin Street for the Church of St.Cross. It has V.I.I. a very important icon of Brest Mother of God, memorial tablets to both Nazi prisoners of war and Polish defenders of the Brest Fortress in 1939. Keep walking down the Lenin's street till you reach Lantern Alley at Gogol Street. Most of the 41 lantern-figures are connected to the stories of this Ukrainian national writer. Cross the road for the «I love Brest» sign and a pair of weird head-statues. After a hundred meters, you will see a pretty eclectic building of the Puppet Theater.
Reach the tall building of statistic center with blue pyramids on top. It is a landmark to locate a memorial stone with the city foundation year and the Museum of Rescued Art Valuables. Border control provided 400 icons, paintings, and antiques and explained how they detect smuggling. Guides can explain the art value of each exhibit and which angle and distance are best to admire it. Do not mix the rescued valuables with pictures of cats or childish paintings from the temporary exhibition on the first floor.
Cross the street to chill at the riverbank or turn right and walk Masherova Street till you reach the open-air Railway Museum. The majority of 60 exhibited trains are still in use for cinema and excursion rides. However, at least one is not in use, and you can even sit at the drivers' cabin. A huge wall with a star-hole next to the Railway Museum marks the entrance to the Brest Hero-Fortress memorial complex.
When architects were exploring the space for the future memorial complex, they found the XIII century settlement conserved underground. Out of 200 buildings, 28 were excavated and exposed to the public together with the archaeological artifacts under the name of «Archeological Museum Biarescie». As a former museum worker, I was surprised by the level of design and the exposition. I would call it the second-best governmental museum after the Great Patriotic War Museum in Minsk. Check what else to see in the Brest Hero-Fortress memorial complex.
Walk back along Masherova Street. The statue near the green building of St. Simeon Cathedral is the patron of Brest - Saint Afanasiy. Enter the church to see his 400 years old relics and a couple of V.I.I. Fifty meters further, there is a fountain with a scene from «Symon Muzyka» by Jakub Kolas, Belarusian second national poet. Walk a bit more and turn left to the pedestrian Sovietskaya Street. If you come here at five, you will see the Lamplighter doing his job along the street. A bit further, you will find a memorial stone with a lamplighter bat statue, signifying the importance of the profession for Brest.
Despite the harsh events at the Brest Hero-Fortress, many XIX-century buildings in Brest survived WWII. You can see most of them along Sovietskaya Street. To fit the atmosphere some new buildings were decorated with medieval-style street art. When you see an iron boot in the middle of the street - try it on. It is supposed to bring luck.
In 2019, an obelisk with most significant historical dates and figures was erected on the crossing of pedestrian Sovietskaya Street and Gogol Street. Stop here for a while and look around to enjoy the second part of the Lantern Alley.
The pedestrian street ends with a musical clock. To round up the route, walk a bit further to the St. Nicholas Church. It is devoted to participants of the Russian-Japanese War. A glass building across the road is the Winter Garden with tropical plants and trees - a great spot to warm up in the cold season.
That mostly covers sightseeing in Brest. I strongly encourage you to walk along the streets in between Lenina and Sovetskaya to feel the quiet charm of the city. If the weather is warm, rent a bicycle, or chill in the city parks. If you are really craving for nature - take an extra day to visit the true lungs of Europe - Byelovezhskaya Pushcha, as it is just 65 km away.
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