Minsk is a major cultural, educational, and artistic center. It is the site of the Academy of Sciences of Belarus, the Belarusian State Univ., the Belarusian National Library, and the Minsk Art Museum.
First mentioned in the Medieval Chronicles under the year of 1067, Minsk, the capital of Belarus and its geographical heart, has a population of 1.7 million. The city is situated in a picturesque place on the banks of the river Svisloch which in old days used to be one of the busiest trade routes connecting the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. The climate is moderate continental with an average January temperature of –6°C and an average July temperature of +18°C.
The city became the capital of the Minsk principality in 1101 and part of Lithuania in 1326. At the end of the 15th cent. it became a great craft and trade center. Joined to Poland in 1569, it passed to Russia in the second partition of Poland (1793). The city’s industrial development began in the 1870s. It was one of the largest Jewish centers of Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, and before World War II some 40% of the population was Jewish. From 1941 to 1943, Minsk was a concentration center for Jews prior to their extermination by the Nazis. Although the city was heavily damaged in the war, several monuments remain. These include a former 17th-century Bernardine convent and the 17th-century Ekaterin Cathedral (formerly called the Petropavlovsk church).
The Minsk area became a centre of the Soviet partisan movement behind enemy lines during the Great Patriotic War, and therefore Minsk was awarded the communist title Hero City in 1974. During the war the city was almost completely destroyed and only a few historical buildings were standing.
In the post-war period the Belarussian capital was practically built anew to become a large industrial, political, scintific and cultural centre. New enterprises were erected in that period – Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ), Minsk Tractor Plant (MTZ), Minsk Automatic Lines Plant (MZAL), Minsk Motorcycle and Bicycle Plant (MMVZ), Computer Plant, etc. Minsk is proud for its scientists and engeneers, writers and teachers, artists and sportsmen who have established Belarus internationally as a higly developed state in Central Europe willing to live in peace and friendship with all countries.
Foreign visitors are attracted to this city by its surprisingly clean, beautiful, calm, optimistic and hospitable atmosphere so as to see with their own eyes the life, history, and traditions of the Belarusian people.
The first section of the Minsk subway opened in 1984 and now the network, which is called the Metro as in many other European cities, consists of two lines. Both of the lines have extensions that are presently under construction. In addition, Minsk has an extensive networks of buses, trolleys and trams.
The city grew rapidly after World War II, so that surrounding villages became mikrorayons, districts of high-density apartment housing. After the Chernobyl disaster, some of the displaced residents of the affected areas moved into Minsk, particularly into the Malinauka and Shabany mikrorayons. Even though the Minsk Ring Automobile Road surrounds the city, there are now some mikrorayons beyond the ring, such as Uruchye and Shabany. A new mikrorayon called Loshitsa was developed during the 1990s, though it is inside the ring. The Kurapaty Forest is located on the outskirts, near the Ring Road, where in 1937-1941 tens of thousands of Belarusans were shot by the Communists. source by hotels-europe.com