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Interesting facts about Minsk

First Belarusian skyscraper

Government House is one of the few attractions in Minsk which safely survived the Belarusian capital’s occupation during the Great Patriotic War. It covers 41,653 square metres, has around 1,000 rooms, 2,000 windows, 4,000 doors and over 3,000 energy-efficient radiators. The country’s largest administrative building has over 10km of engineering networks.

There are over fifteen halls, used for meetings, sessions, presidiums and the reception of foreign delegations. The Oval Hall hosts plenary sessions and is considered to be the main hall. Its chandelier, in the shape of a star, weighs five tonnes, and holds 500 bulbs. It is suspended by dozens of cables and a platform.

Interestingly, Minsk’s Government House has a twin in Mogilev (more information at Interesting facts about the Mahilioŭskaja voblasć).

Business card of the capital

Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci (Nezavisimosti Avenue), which transects Minsk from the south-west to north-east, is one of the main transport highways in the capital and a monument of Soviet era town-planning. It is of national and global architectural value. Built in the 1940-1960s, it is in traditional ‘Stalin Empire’ style, creating a harmonious architectural ensemble. The road enjoys state protection, being of historical and cultural value, and has applied for inclusion on UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage List.

The oldest fountain

Minsk is adorned with over a hundred fountains, of all sizes. Erected in 1874 in honour of the launch of the city’s water supply system is the fountain in Aliaksandrauski Park.

That on the bank of Lake Kamsamoĺskaje – opposite the Victoria Hotel – is perhaps the most technologically complex, while that in Plošča Niezaliežnasci (Nezavisimosti Square) has a record-breaking 700 jets.

The most capacious fountain is situated near the Opera and Ballet Theatre, with a pool containing 300,000 litres of water.

Meanwhile, many view the Garland fountain, in Janka Kupala Park, as the most romantic.

The most advanced building

The National Library of Belarus is the largest information and cultural centre in the country. It weighs about 270,000 tonnes: almost four times heavier than Ostankinskaya TV Tower. The diameter of the library’s base is 180 metres and each storey of the building would be able to contain two football fields.

The total area of the building is 113,669 square metres. It holds twenty reading rooms, able to accommodate 2,000 readers, and twenty archives, with around 1,500 computers. The total length of its electric wiring exceeds 700km, and it has 90km of shelving. The glass floor – which is a true highlight of the National Library – can hold up to 2,000 tonnes per square metre. External lighting is provided by over 4,500 bulbs.

The National Library of Belarus is one of the most modern and information-rich in Europe, boasting access to eight million editions and resource items. Without leaving the building, library visitors enjoy access to information daily used by students and professors from Britain’s Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The National Library ensures access to approximately 150 databases and data banks around the world. Visitors receive books and other documents via an automated delivery system, in just twenty minutes: the highest speed of service of any library worldwide. Almost 70 percent of National Library readers access resources remotely.

In 2013, National Library of Belarus dossiers were named on the short list of contenders for UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize (awarded since 2005 for significant contributions to the Memory of the World programme).

Blooming oasis

The Botanical Garden is a favourite relaxation spot for Minsk residents and guests, and is much loved by newly-weds for photo sessions. The garden has nine avenues, of oak, apple, bird cherry, ash, fir, linden, thuja, birch and maple, which fan out from the central parterre. It regularly organises carnivals of roses, in addition to holidays in honour of flowering peonies, rhododendrons and the amazing tulip tree.

The Central Botanical Garden of Belarus’ National Academy of Sciences is among the largest botanical gardens in Europe, in terms of territory (covering 153 hectares) and composition of collections of living plants (about 9,000, including 2,000 greenhouse varieties). Only the Royal Botanic Gardens in London and Madrid’s Park exceed it in size. It is the country's largest centre of biodiversity of living plants and the leading research institution for the introduction, acclimatisation, physiology, molecular biology, biotechnology, biochemistry and ecology of plants.

The garden’s collection includes 128 rare and endangered varieties of Belarusian flora. It grows 11,281 unique plants, and exchanges seeds with 240 botanical gardens globally.