Regions of Belarus

 

Belarus is subdivided into 6 regions: Brestsky, Gomelsky, Grodnensky, Minsky, Mogilevsky, and Vitebsky. They are named after the most significant cities of Belarus. Each of the region in its turn splits up into 16–22 districts. The capital of Belarus — Minsk — has status of an independent administrative-territorial unit.

Let’s briefly get acquainted with Regional centres of Belarus located along the border of country.

Minsk, capital of Belarus, was first mentioned in chronicles in 1067 as Menesk. The city has seen a lot during its long history. Many conquerors have passed through Minsk. In 1499 the city was granted the Magdeburg Rights. The World War II destroyed it almost completely. It stood all trials and revived like Phoenix bird. The city is located in a picturesque place on the river Svisloch. This river was one of the busiest trade routes connected the Baltic and the Black seas. The city of Minsk is possessed of best pieces of Belarusian cultural heritage: museums and exhibitions, world famous Belarusian Ballet, etc.

Brest is situated on the border with Poland. Brest was first mentioned in 1019 as Berestie. Many times it passed from one hand to other: it was held by Turov Princes, then Kiev Grand Princes, later belonged to Grand Duchy of Lithuania renamed into Brest Litovsky, and to Rzecz Pospolita. In 1390 the city was granted the Magdeburg Rights. Brest was attached as just all the Grand Duchy lands to the Russian Empire in 1795. In the White Palace in 1918 the Brest Peace Treaty was signed between the Soviet Russia and Germany. In 1920-1939 Grodno was a part of Poland. Since 1939 — a Belarusian city again. During the World War II, the Brest Fortress became famous for its heroic defence. In December 1991, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha near Brest, the leaders of Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus signed an agreement on abolition of the USSR and foundation of CIS.

Gomel was first mentioned in chronicles in 1142 as Gomiy. Gomel belonged to Chernigov Principality, then the part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, then Rzecz Pospolita and in 1772 became the part of the Russian Empire. Following that, the Russian Empress Catherine II the Great presented lands in the city to the hero of the Russian-Turkish War, Marshal Rumyantsev who initiated the construction of the Palace — Park Ensemble. In the town of Vetka (18 km from Gomel) there is a museum of old icons and manuscripts.

Grodno was first mentioned in 1128. In 1391 the city was granted the incomplete Magdeburg Rights, and in 1496 — the complete ones. Later in 1576 it became the Second capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the residence of Stephen Batoriy, the King of Rzecz Pospolita. In 1795 it was incorporated into the Russian Empire. In 1920-1939 Grodno was a part of Poland. Since 1939 — a Belarusian city again.

Mogilev was first mentioned in 1267. Once belonged to Grand Duchy of Kiev and later to the Vitebsk Princes, then to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Rzecz Pospolita. In 1577 the city was granted the Magdeburg Rights. In 1772 it was incorporated into the Russian Empire. The last Russian Tsar Nikolay II spent much time there.

Vitebsk was first mentioned in 1021. It is situated on the crossroads of trade routes and the city had commercial relations with Riga, the capital of German Livonian Order, and German cities. In 1597 the city was granted the Magdeburg Rights and in 1772 it formed a part of the Russian Empire. Nowadays it’s well known as the birth place of Mark Chagall, the outstanding artist.

Among the other biggest towns the following ones should be mentioned (in brackets the population in pax is indicated): Bobruysk (228,000), Borissov (154,000), Pinsk (134,000), Soligorsk (102,000), Lida (101,000), Baranovichi (174,000), Orsha (139,000), Mozyr (110,000), Novopolotsk (101,000).