What to see in Belarus
Brest is located in southwestern Belarus, on the border with Poland. The capital of the homonymous province, 350 km separate it from Minsk. The city was once an important trade route between Germany and the USSR.It is one of the oldest cities in the country, dating back to the eleventh century. Legend has it that merchants passing through this important point of communications stopped in front of a swamp that seemed impossible to cross. To cross, they covered the swamp with birch bark and whilst crossing, they observed that the natural course of the two rivers was arranged in such a way that it created an island. When they returned, they decided to stay for a while in this cozy place, founding Brest. During the reign of Nicholas I, the old part of the city and the legendary Brest Fortress was built in its place. In the urban centre of Brest you can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere. Its boulevards and streets stand out, such as Gogol, flanked by old chestnut trees and Sovetskaya, known as the "Broadway of Brest", with its charming architecture, shops, restaurants and picturesque cafes. Every day at dusk, an old-fashioned lamplighter with a hat and uniform climbs a ladder to manually light kerosene street lamps. After this curious ritual, the lights of the rest of the city are lit. Other pleasant areas to stroll are the riverbank and the City Park.Undoubtedly, the main tourist attraction of the city and one of the most popular in the country is the Brest Fortress. The construction of the westernmost military post of the Soviet empire took place in the west of the city and ended in 1842.The channels of the Bug and Mujávets rivers formed islands, so the fortress divided into 4 forts. The old Brest Castle was demolished to raise the south fortification. The north was erected in the district where there were many private houses and the west, in the western branch of the Bug. On June 22, 1941, German artillery stormed the Red Army soldiers with the start of Operation Barbarossa. The estimate to take control was 8 hours, but the truth is that the defenders of the Brest Fortress heroically resisted for more than a month. 8 days of bombardment by air and sieges by land in which thousands of bullets and fragments of projectile went through the walls of the barracks, were necessary for the last survivors of the assault to take refuge in the cellars, being trapped without water or food. The Germans used flamethrowers to get out of their underground hiding place, but it was not enough either. In its walls still today you can read carvings: "I'm dying but I'm not giving up. Goodbye motherland." The "heroic defeat" came, but it is a fact that Nazi Germany had underestimated the value of the Soviet army. Every year, during the night of June 21, veterans from all the regions of the former Soviet Union gather in the fortress to celebrate a vigil that remembers the events that took place. After the ceremony, the soldiers and border guards deposit wreaths on the waters of the Western Bug River in honor of the people who sacrificed their lives while fighting against Nazism.In 1971, the memorial was inaugurated. Within the complex, the ruins of the old "Hero Fortress", the reconstructed barracks, and the border post are housed and in the Ceremonial Square, an eternal flame of victory is lit.Since the events that took place here place during the Second World War, the Fortress of Brest is much more than a set of buildings that pays homage to the victims. It is a symbol of patriotism and synonymous with perseverance, courage and faith in the victory that would finally come years later.