What to see in Gomel in one day
Gomel is the second largest city in Belarus. It reminds me of St. Petersburg without canals and Kiev.
Gomel began to grow and develop after Catherine the Great gave these lands to the commander Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky for his victory in the Russian-Turkish war. The count set about improving the town: he built a palace with a park, churches, and schools. Then the Rumyantsevs’ estate was passed to the Paskeviches. The present image of the city is largely their merit.
I was born and lived in Gomel until 2015, then I went to Moscow to study. Now I visit my parents periodically.
I’ve been to many museums in the city and know places where it’s nice to walk. For the article I made a route of 2.6 kilometers. If you walk it, in one day you will see the main attractions of Gomel and enjoy the beautiful architecture.
What you will see
How to get to Gomel
By plane. From Moscow to Gomel there are direct flights by Nordwind airlines. The ticket costs from 2944 P and travel time is only 1,5 hrs.
From St. Petersburg you can take a connecting flight in Moscow. It takes 5.5 hours to get there. The flight costs from 5151 P .
Beginning from spring 2020, to travel from Russia by land tourists need a valid reason: for example, study, work, or medical treatment. The exceptions are trips to Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and by train to Belarus.
There is a train № 083A from St. Petersburg to Gomel. It departs daily from Vitebsk station at 17:13. Passage in the coach costs from 2724 R, in the compartment – from 4468 R. Travel time is 16,5 hours.
Belarusian trains have new cars with sockets and flashlights for reading. It’s a pity that WiFi doesn’t work.
By bus. From Moscow to Gomel, there are buses departing from Novoyasenevskaya bus station and the “Salarevo” bus station. Tickets cost from 2140 R , travel time – 10-11 hours. Before the pandemic, I usually took the bus: it was a little cheaper than the train.
The last time I went from Moscow to Gomel, I left from the Salarevo bus station at 22:30. There is little comfort in the trip: it was hard for me to fall asleep because of the TV running until midnight. During the entire time the bus made three sanitary stops. In the gas station building you could buy coffee and pastries. I returned to Moscow by train to get a proper rest.
From St. Petersburg buses take even longer – about 14 hours. Departures from different stations, tickets cost from 2195 P.
By car. From Moscow to Gomel go along the M3 highway, following the signs to Bryansk, then along the A240 road in the direction of Novozybkov. The distance of 660 kilometers is covered in 8-9 hours, if there are no traffic jams. There are two paid sections at the exit from Moscow, the passage through them costs 150 R .
From St. Peresburg to Gomel you have to drive in the direction of Pskov, then Vitebsk, and then follow the signs to Gomel. The total distance is 960 kilometers. The trip without traffic jams will take about 12 hours. There are no toll roads.
From Minsk to Gomel you can get by M5 highway. The distance between the cities is 310 kilometers, travel time is about 4 hours.
A course on big business
How to get to the beginning of the route. Gomel railway station and bus station are 500 meters from each other. If you arrive to the city by train or bus, walk to the beginning of the route along Lenin Street. You will pass the distance of 2 kilometers in about half an hour.
Once you get off at the stop, you will notice a beige building with an unusual window decoration. It was built in 1880 on the site of the former town hall. The first floor was used for stores and offices, while the second floor was used for meetings of the city council. Today it is one of the oldest buildings in Gomel.
On the territory of the palace and park ensemble of the Rumyantsevs and Paskeviches there are the main sights of Gomel: the palace of the princes, their chapel-mausoleum, the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, the winter garden. Also you can climb the observation tower, walk along the embankment of the river Sozh and in the park with Lebyazhy pond and amusement park.
Gomel palace and park ensemble and the Sozh River. During the Soviet times there were motor boats that took 3 hours to get passengers to Kiev from the wharf. Nowadays the river is navigated only by a tourist boat.
St. Peter and Paul Cathedral was built in the early 19th century at the initiative of Count Nikolai Rumyantsev, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Napoleonic wars. Despite his love for St. Petersburg the count willed to bury himself in Gomel, in the Peter and Paul Cathedral. And so it happened.
The temple was designed by British architect John Clark. During the February Revolution the church was closed, although they initially wanted to blow it up. In the 1960s and 1980s, the planetarium worked in the cathedral. After that the building remained empty and in ruins for a long time. Only in the late 20th century the cathedral regained its original appearance.
Travelers are allowed inside for free. The interior of the temple is canonical, the walls are decorated with paintings. However, the decoration of the cathedral is quite modest, with virtually nothing left of the Rumyantsev decoration: in the 1990s, the church was restored as best as possible, rather than according to the principle of historical conformity. But I like the church all the same: it is an excellent example of classicism.
The chapel-fortuary of Princes Paskevich was built at the end of the 19th century by architects from St. Petersburg. From the capital of the Russian Empire, they brought the colored tiles and smalt mosaic from the best masters. The small building of the chapel looks fabulous and reminiscent of a Russian tower. Such rich decoration is not accidental: the owner of the Gomel estate Fyodor Paskevich wanted to perpetuate the memory of his father, an outstanding military leader of Russia.
Under the chapel is the family crypt of Paskevich. To get inside you can only with a guided tour. Visitors pass to the tomb through a separate entrance located to the left of the chapel, go down the stairs and walk through the tunnel. Along the walls in the crypt are stone slabs, under which members of the Paskevich family are buried. The guide tells the history of the family line and the construction of the chapel-mausoleum.
The building was badly damaged during the Great Patriotic War. After it was restored in several stages. The shrine was opened to the public in 2016, the chapel in 2019. Now visitors can see the building almost as it was conceived by the authors in the 1870s . I only liked the chapel from the outside: the tunnel and crypt are very damp and creepy. It’s also forbidden to take pictures there, they’re watching for that.
Ticket to the shrine chapel
To the left of the chapel is the entrance to the tunnel that leads to the crypt where the Paskevichi are buried. There is a version that during the occupation of Gomel German officers used the tomb as a shooting gallery: the mosaic panel has traces of bullets
The construction of the palace began in the late 18th century. Among the authors of the project were a pupil of Rastrelli and an architect of the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. Today the building looks somewhat different from what its creators intended: each subsequent owner has changed the look of the palace to his own taste.
The Gomel estate was visited more than once by Nikolai the First and Alexander the Second. The son of the count Rumyantsev gathered a large library in the palace, which later became the basis of the Lenin library collection, which is now the Russian State Library.
When the Bolsheviks came to power, they opened in the palace a museum of local history. The owner of the estate, the widow Irina Paskevich, who funded the construction of most of the buildings in the center of Gomel, was moved to a small apartment.
The palace was badly damaged during the Second World War. It was hastily repaired and the Palace of Pioneers was opened there. It was only in the 1990s that the building was given to the museum, the restoration was completed by the middle of the 2000s.
Historical halls were reconstructed in the central part of the palace: the column hall, the hall for solemn receptions, the white and red drawing rooms. The first hall is located on two floors and is covered by a dome. Here visitors look at the columns and sculptures. The hall of solemn receptions used to be the dining room of princes. Today meetings of representatives of different states are held here. On the walls hang portraits of famous people of Gomel region.
The tower of the palace used to be a prince’s room. Now there is an exhibition ‘The owners of the Gomel estate’ on its three floors. There are paintings, sculptures, weapons and personal belongings of the family. The exhibits tell the story of the palace and the town in the late 18th and early 20th centuries. In the underground rooms of the building there is an archaeological exhibition, which presents more than 90 thousand objects: from mammoth bones to smoking pipes.
I am impressed with the interiors of the palace. Columns, sculptures, gilding, huge floor vases, stained-glass windows, glittering chandeliers, elegant furniture on thin legs – all this perfectly immerses you in the Rumyantsev era. Of course, there is a touch of artificiality and novelty, but I still recommend visiting the halls of the palace for the sake of history.
The pond appeared on the site of a small river Gomiyuk, which, according to one version, gave its name to the city. It’s not hard to guess that swans live in the pond. They often come out of the water close to visitors, but it is forbidden to feed them. The pond is decorated with bird houses and fountains.
It’s a picturesque place and you’d like to have a picnic on the grass, but you’re not allowed to do it: only squirrels, which live here in unbelievable numbers, may walk on the lawn. The animals are eager to get their food: you can feed them sunflower seeds, dried fruits, carrots and hazelnuts, but never almonds – they are poison for squirrels.
Visitors of the park cross the pond on the beautiful stone bridge of the 19th century, which is depicted on old postcards with views of Gomel.
The fountains in the park are great for refreshing in the heat, if you are lucky with the direction of the wind. If not, go to the ice cream stand. I recommend trying the Bird’s Milk and Truffle for 1.6 Br (46 P ). It seems that Belarusians make the most delicious ice cream in the world!
From the bridge, which is near the ice cream kiosk, you have a great view of Lebyazhy Pond and the Sozh River.
The observation tower and the winter garden are next to each other and are linked by a common history. In the 19th century they were parts of the sugar factory. In the 1880s, Prince Paskevich decided to move the factory to the neighboring town of Dobrush. At that time, the exhaust pipe became the observation tower, and one of the production premises became a greenhouse.
At first I doubted that this tower was erected as a factory chimney: why did they make windows and such an unusual decoration there? It turns out that at the end of the 19th century, the prince ordered to improve the appearance of the structure to better fit its new purpose.
From the observation deck of the tower there is a beautiful view of the river and the park, but the city itself is not so well visible: the height of the structure is only 40 meters. At the same time it is not so easy to overcome on foot the 190 steps: it is equivalent to climbing to the tenth floor.
The height of the observation tower
The Winter Garden has been located in the building of the sugar factory since 1877. Rare heat-loving plants were kept here and the necessary temperature was maintained by two stoves during the winter.
Today, there is a collection of 18 subtropical plants under the glass roof of the building. For example, there are magnolia, fig, coffee tree, jasmine and fern. The oldest plant in the garden is the fan palm, it was planted in 1888. The room is quite humid and warm, there is a subtle aroma similar to the smell of grass clippings.
People often come here with children. In addition to plants, they like to look at turtles, fish and decorative rabbits.
The winter garden in Gomel reminds me of the greenhouses of Aptekarsky Ogorod in Moscow. The scale is less, but the feeling is the same.
Unlike the observation tower, the building of the winter garden almost did not suffer during the Second World War. It still has its brickwork of the 19th century.
Embankment and fountain with a monument to the first settler. I advise to walk along the embankment from south to north. In its upper part there is a monument to the first settler of Gomel. As I wrote above, there’s a version that the river Gomiyuk gave its name to the city: the first inhabitants settled on its banks. I also read that in ancient times people often floated down the river Sozh. One of the vessels ran aground, and its passenger shouted to the others to attract attention: “Go! Mel!” To this man the monument on the embankment is dedicated. The hand lynx, which sits in the first settler’s boat, is depicted on the town’s coat of arms and is considered its symbol.
Everywhere on the waterfront there are signs prohibiting riding bicycles, but everyone goes anyway. Nevertheless, it’s nice to walk here. I like that there are a lot of benches along the river. I wish there were kiosks with water, coffee and ice cream. It would have added comfort. The closest place to the waterfront, where you can eat, is the restaurant “Provence” with European cuisine. I will tell you about it further in the article.
The Museum of the History of Gomel is in the “Hunting House” – a small mansion of the 19th century, which served as a summer residence of Count Rumyantsev. He was not interested in hunting, and the building got its name because it was located on the outskirts of the city. It is interesting that the mansion was built of wood and lined with brick.
The museum has three permanent exhibitions. The “Interiors of the Town Mansion of the Late 19th and Early 20th Century” exhibit shows the living room, study and dining room, which houses the furniture of the time. Dressers, tables, chairs, dishes, floor clocks, mirrors, musical instruments and books give an idea of the life of the townspeople. The original furniture of the “Hunter’s Lodge” has not survived. I have visited similar exhibitions in other museums.
I was more impressed by the showcases with a retrospective of the city development in the expositions “History of Gomel from antiquity to the beginning of the 20th century” and “Walks on old Gomel”. There I saw things from different periods, which archaeologists found on the territory of the city. The museum is not very big, but it will be interesting to those who are fond of history. I recommend to take a tour: the guide tells about the buildings that you will see during the walk around Gomel.
A ticket to the Museum of the History of Gomel
600 meters from the “Hunting Lodge” there is a branch of the Gomel History Museum – the Museum of Printing and Photography. It is the first state museum of this kind in Belarus. For the 870th anniversary of his native city photographer Leonid Pinsky presented the Museum of the History of Gomel with his collection of rare photographic equipment that he had collected since the 1970s. It was so impressive that he had to rent a separate building.
The Museum of Military Glory tells the military history of the Gomel region. A special place here is occupied by the exhibitions devoted to the Great Patriotic War. Belarus was the first to take the blow and held the defense with all its might. Visitors will learn about the exploits of the soldiers who defended the city from the invaders, the achievements of the partisans, who destabilized the enemy during the occupation, the role of women and children in the rear, the tragic events of that period.
Next to the exhibits in the Museum of Military Glory there are detailed descriptions. The halls are staffed by friendly people who are willing to answer questions. I recommend taking this excursion for those who want to learn quickly the most important facts from the military history of Gomel
Beautiful Streets. In addition to the route with sights, I recommend a walk along Lenin and Victory avenues and along Sovetskaya Street. It’s difficult for me to single out the most beautiful street: they are all different from each other, each has unusual buildings. The total length of all three streets is 4.3 kilometers, the walk will take no more than an hour.
Lenin Street is notable for its buildings from the Stalinist period. It reminds me of Minsk, Moscow, Smolensk, Volgograd and other cities that were actively restored after the war. The most unusual building, which survived the war because the local Gestapo office was located there, is a constructivist communal house from the end of the 1920s. Today it is an apartment building.
Sovetskaya Street is an analogue of St. Petersburg’s Nevsky Prospekt. The most beautiful buildings were designed by architects Shabunevsky, Muntz, Clark, and Thorlin. I admire the unusual decor of the apartment houses, commercial banks and residential buildings.
There are numerous cafes and restaurants along Victory Avenue, and it’s pleasant to stroll along the chestnut alley, which takes you to the train station or bus station.
I recommend stopping by the youth theater, where plays by domestic and foreign authors are staged. There are classics like Ostrovsky in a modern reading and productions based on the works of V. Dunin-Martsinkevich, S. Aleksievich, V. Korotkevich and others. Tickets cost the same as in the Drama Theater. I like the Youth Theater for its chamberness, it is somewhat reminiscent of the old stage of Pyotr Fomenko’s Workshop in Moscow.
When to go. Gomel is beautiful at any time of year. In spring, large flowerbeds with tulip compositions appear in the palace and park complex, blooming chestnuts along Victory Avenue also please the eye.
In autumn, the city is beautiful because of the yellowing leaves. On the second Saturday of September, Gomel celebrates the City Day. Also on this day, once every two years, the choreographic festival “Sozhsky Karagod” opens. In 2020 it was canceled because of the coronavirus, but in 2022 the festival may take place. Dance groups from different countries take part in it. I’ve been to the festival several times, it’s a large-scale spectacle.
The city is also beautiful in winter; it is decorated with illumination towards the New Year holidays. The climate in Gomel is about the same as in Moscow or a little warmer.
For the first visit, I advise to visit the city from May until October. I like it best when Gomel is buried in verdure. Without it, it doesn’t look as spectacular.
Money. In Gomel, almost all establishments accept cards. Cash in local currency is useful for shopping in the markets and paying for a ride on public transport if you buy a ticket from the driver.
I recommend to try dishes of the Belarusian cuisine in the restaurants “Staroye Vremya”, “Batsyki” or “Syabry”. In my opinion, the best establishments of European cuisine with great interiors and the best views from the window are “Bean” and “Provance”.
Jur soup has an unusual sour taste. It is cooked from sour flour with the addition of meat or lard, abundantly garnished with herbs. True, I haven’t seen it on restaurant menus in a long time. If you find it, be sure to try it.
I recommend going to the Staroye Vremya restaurant for its interior. The place is practically a museum of Soviet everyday life. The creators chose old films as the theme for the restaurant: “A Place to Change”, “The White Sun of the Desert”, and others.
I love going to the Provence restaurant. It is located in the northern part of the embankment, a three-minute walk from the Gomel History Museum. It is an institution with verandas and live music.
You can find Belarusian knitwear, textiles and linen in the shopping center “Secret,” in the “Old Department Store,” specialty stores of the factory “8 March” and brand store “Kalinka.
Gomel is one of the oldest cities in Belarus, founded at the end of the 1st millennium A.D. It was founded at the confluence of the creek Gomeyuk in the river Sozh. As you call a ship by its name, it sails just as she sails. This rule also applies to cities. The city spent a few centuries in phonetic search, being called Gomiy, Gom, and Gomie, before settling on its present name, which sounds quite euphonious. In 1772, after the partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita), Gomel became part of the Russian Empire. In 1775 Catherine II presented Gomel to commander P. Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky, who ruled Little Russia during her reign. In 1827 one of the next Rumyantsevs pledged Gomel to the state treasury (due to lack of money) for 401.1 thousand rubles, and then he sold it. The palace part of the town was bought by I. F. Paskevich-Erivansky, to whom, in 1838, Nicholas I gave all the rest. During the Civil War the city saw military units of the Kaiser’s Germany, the Ukrainian People’s Republic under Simon Petlyura and the Red Army. In 1919 the Gomel province of the RSFSR was created. In 1926 the town was donated again. This time to Belarus (BSSR). On August, 19, 1941 German troops entered the town. An active guerrilla and underground movement unfolded in the Gomel region. The German occupation lasted for over two years. The number of Jews who did not survive it reached 10,000 people. The Gomel region suffered severely during the Chernobyl accident, as the wind was blowing in that direction. Currently, Gomel is the second largest city in the country in terms of population (522549 inhabitants). At the entrance to the railway station, from the car window, you can see the buildings of St. Nicholas Monastery. Its main structures are presented in two pictures. The gate church.
And St. Nicholas Church.
Svyato-Tikhvin female monastery is smaller in size.
Completed repairs of the Palace of Railwaymen at the station square.
Belarusian oil workers are meeting in Gomel.
Here is also the only oil rig encountered in the country. (Maybe somewhere else there is, but I have not met).
The outline of the local university suggests an affinity for the exact sciences.
The Catholic Church of the Nativity of Our Lady.
Sports are probably developing in the city, which would not be surprising in Belarus. An ice rink.
And the Palace of Track and Field Athletics.
The airplane serves as a landmark for the route. – You get to the plane and.
Nearby the Holy Trinity Church is being built. They say it will be the largest in Gomel.
Next are the new buildings.
A look at the lawn before turning back.
The area around Sovetskaya ulitsa, not far from the circus.
The circus itself is of typical construction, you can skip it, but the figure next to it is individual.
Memory of the 100,000 Soviet prisoners of war who died in the Gomel concentration camp.
Museum of military equipment. Here the armaments are more widely represented.
A small but cute Registry Office.
Another similar state institution.
Irina Ivanovna Paskevich. She is known for her charity work. She left a good memory in the city.
Nobility did not leave with Irina Ivanovna. Similar impulses occurred in people later.
We continue to look at the surrounding buildings.
City art gallery.
A high-rise. In my opinion, the only one in the city.
Next to it are figures of famous fairy tale characters. This one I identified as Karabas Barabas.
Well, and Pinocchio and his friends, I think, do not need to imagine.
А. A. Gromyko was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR for a long time. He was born in Gomel County, in the village of Starye Gromyki.
One of the two central streets, Sovetskaya, becomes more interesting when approaching the central Lenin Square.
The city administration building.
The second main thoroughfare of Gomel is Lenin Street. This street is mainly built up with good-quality Soviet-era houses.
Aircraft designer P. O. Sukhoi studied at the local gymnasium.
Monument to the Gomel janitor (or janitor?). A quality janitor is one of the famous Belarusian brands. And the fact that his salary is clearly low. (I inquired).
A monument to Tchaikovsky in front of the Concert Hall.
The building of the Forestry Technical College. On the right.
Nearby is a monument to the first chairman of the Cheka.
Monument to the preacher Cyril of Tours.
A couple more interesting buildings.
And then we go to the city park. Gomel palace-park ensemble was founded by count Rumyantsev-Zadunaysky, and got its modern look after the next owners – the Paskevich family. Let us examine the palace carefully and from different angles.
Peter and Paul Cathedral. During the Soviet regime it was a planetarium.
The tomb of the Paskevich family.
From the side of Sozh river.
To whisper about something pleasant you can here.
On the territory of the park in the XIX century was built a winter garden.
There are several descents to the embankment.
It seems that this sculptural composition faithfully reflects the life of modern Belarus. One man, strong and courageous, is rowing, guiding the fragile boat-country along the ocean of the market economy. He understands the full extent of responsibility, and so he exerts a lot of effort. At this time, happy people rejoice in life, rejoice and sing.
The embankment in Gomel is long enough. In the distance you can see the pedestrian bridge over the Sozh.
It looks like this is the brook Gomeyuk. If so, it can be cited as an example. – Take a look! This is what a modern urban stream should look like!
There is an impressive collection of flattering words on the wall. Perhaps the local cavaliers run to it for a clue when they’ve exhausted their vocabulary. If any of the ladies reading this story haven’t found a definition that applies to her in the list, they can add it in the comments.
There is a boat trip along the river. On the other bank you can see the city beach.
A view of the embankment from the pedestrian bridge. Its construction continues.
On the opposite side of the Sozh River is the Novobelitsa district of Gomel. The town of Novaya Belitsa was once built by Count Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky to house county officials there, but it later became part of Gomel. The area is still quite self-sufficient today. It has an industry (it is a fat factory).
In 2003, the church of Alexander Nevsky was built.
And the river Sozh has formed bays in this area, which freely accommodate moorings for ships.