Zaslavl: how to get there and what to see? (+many photos).
Remember the old joke: “Ivan Vasilyevich has not had a woman for so long that from time to time he has already started to look at his wife”? It’s the same with my travels. My trip to Kiev was six months ago. And a trip to Brussels, Rotterdam and Antwerp, it seems, was even in the past life. This is why lately I’ve decided to travel around Belarus (or at least the nearest suburbs of Minsk).
I used to often see Zaslavl from the train window. So it was the first item in my personal list.
It’s very easy to get here. Tickets are cheap. And various guidebooks promised me and ancient cathedrals, and an ancient settlement, and a market square, and several “Skansen” (open-air museums) at once. In general… The prospects of the trip drunk me like Lidskoe Pilsner. And what came out of it – read on.
This will be a story about my first trip in 2021.
How to get to Zaslavl from Minsk?
City line train
Here it is as simple as three times three. Many areas of the capital are harder to get to. All you need to do is go to poezd . rw . by and choose the best departure time for you. Trains leave every 20 minutes. And sometimes the interval is even less.
The station, near which Zaslavl is located, is called “Belarus”. In the 1920s, there was the border with Poland, so the name remained from those times.
It takes about half an hour to get there. Tickets cost 0.68 BYN or 1.05 BYN. Those that are more expensive are the usual “City Line” trains. The cheaper ones are the newest nano-electric trains with built-in portals to the past.
Once you enter the train you immediately find yourself in the nostalgic world of brown benches, tired dacha owners, and sellers of scandals and novels by Aleksandra Marinina. Sofia Rotaru is still a superstar here. And one can still make a fortune on bags of sprouts.
But never mind… Let’s not get sidetracked. You can buy tickets online at poezd . rw . by or at the suburban ticket office at the station. Here they are on the photo below.
All tickets are valid for a whole day. That is, if you buy a ticket Minsk – Zaslavl, you can go on any train from morning till 2 am. The tickets for a ruble give the right to travel in all trains. And tickets for 68 kopecks – in all, except for “City lines”. The system is as convoluted as Marinina’s best detectives. But I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
What to see in Zaslavl?
The authors of the tourist map, drawn in the center of Zaslavl, counted as many as 20 attractions in the city. But most of them are just made out of thin air. So – do not be fooled. As the saying goes, “These are not the droids you are looking for.
In fact, there are only two sights in the city – the Church of the Transfiguration (1570) and the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (1774). You will see the church as soon as you get to the station. But if you’re afraid of getting lost, you can download the mobile app MAPS.ME beforehand.
If you walk down Soviet Lane, you’ll soon come across a small lake and an Ecotrope to the left. I recommend taking this path to the Church of the Transfiguration. There are ducks, bridges, and it’s beautiful.
At the time when the church was still a Calvinist cathedral, it was surrounded by a bastion castle, of which today only the high rampart and a fragment of the entrance fence have survived. So the church grounds look very isolated. It’s like a little world separated from the rest of the city.
It’s a great pleasure to take photos. The Church of the Transfiguration is a very beautiful place. Although there is nothing unusual inside.
When you see everything here, go further along Zamkova Street. When leaving the territory, pay attention to the fragment of the entrance fence that has survived until now. It does not look good, like me after a hangover. In all seriousness, it is poorly cared for. You can’t do that.
The same Zamkovaya Street, which I already mentioned, will take you to the center of the city – to the monument to Lenin. Behind it there’s Market Square, a small square and another monument to prince Izyaslav Vladimirovich, in whose honor the city was named (mentioned in chronicles as Izyaslavl).
Right behind the square is the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary – attraction number two on my personal list.
It looks no less cool than the Church of the Transfiguration. Although because of the trees and private houses pressing up against it – it’s pretty hard to take a picture of the church.
Part-time sights (or everything you can miss).
Right in the square on Market Square is Stone with a message to descendants. There’s not much in the stone itself, but the capsule buried under it will not be opened until 2085.
I will be 96 then. There is little chance of surviving, but I, as a soccer Leicester, will try to surprise everyone. Imagine, there’s a piece of Advice to the Gardener magazine underneath that rock.
Okay … Let’s move on. There is also a city museum-reserve “Zaslavl” on Market Street.
The entrance costs 3 rubles. If interested – you can take a look. Although I do not think there will be anything special.
In general, there are a lot of different museums in Zaslavl. There is:
- “Museified” World War II pillbox;
- Museum of Mythology and Forest;
- The ethnographic complex “Mlyn” (with the hotel of the 19th century and a steam mill, unique for Belarus);
- And the Zaslavl Museum on the main square.
A ticket to each of these complexes costs 3 rubles (less than 1 €). But you can also buy a Single ticket to all museums (for 12 BYN). Then you save as much as 3 rubles.
Museum workers also conduct guided tours around the city. If you want to have a guided tour of Zaslavl, please call us at +375 (17) 517-76-11. You can also find detailed information on the website zaslaue.by .
As for me, I briefly stopped by the main museum of the city.
Then through the park I walked to the complex “Mlyn” (Soviet lane).
And then I went in the direction of the settlement “Zamechak” (10th century). In an article that I read before the trip, it was included among the main attractions Zaslavl. And I fell for it. The next half hour I swore at its authors with very bad words.
Where do not have to go?
Look: Zaslavl is a very small town. Here the ducks, rivers, one-story houses and bundles of firewood at the gate.
All its interesting places you can walk around in an hour. And the only exception is the town site of the 10th century. The walk to it from the market square is more than 2 kilometers. The road goes through some vegetable gardens. That is why the navigator gets confused, you are mashing the dirt, and the neighbor’s dogs bark at you from all sides.
In addition, the fort also surrounds a rampart, so at one point I still had to climb up the hill. Yes, there must be some kind of miracle trail that only the pure-hearted wanderer can discover. But I climbed a hill – and there’s a good chance you’ll go through something like that, too.
And if you think that at the end there will be some kind of travel-catarsis, then no… The mound “Zamechak” is a stone cross, a vacant lot and a pipe of some local factory.
Since the area is secluded, local sommeliers still often hold fruit and berry wine tastings there, as one subscriber wrote to me on Instagram. I saw the bottles scattered near the “Shaft” myself. It’s no big deal, of course. But you just know, the “fortress” is not worth your tears.
Go there, I do not advise (even though the navigator promised me that somewhere nearby is also a military pillbox). Looked at the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration? Went for a little walk in the city? That’s all! You can go back to Minsk with a feeling of accomplishment. If you’re traveling with children – you can also take a look at the Museum of Forest Mythology. The descriptions and photos on the Internet make a pleasant impression. I would listen to the legends about forest spirits myself. This is a true Belarusian fantasy!
On this optimistic note, I’ll end my story about the trip to Zaslavl. If you liked the article – subscribe to me on Instagram. And if you liked it very much – you can also buy my novel, which is available here. It will help with the development of the project in these challenging times.
Goodbye, friends! In the near future I’ll have many more reports about my trips to Belarus.
Popular Sights of Zaslavl: photos and descriptions
30 kilometers from Minsk, on the road to the northwest, you can see the snow-white towers of two cathedrals on the hills from afar. This is the ancient Zaslavl, or Iziaslavl, founded more than a thousand years ago.
It took its name from Izyaslav, the son of Kievan Prince Vladimir and Polotsk Princess Rogneda. According to the ancient chronicles, Vladimir built the city for his wife and eldest son in about 985. In X-XII centuries Izyaslavl was the center of the appanage principality and one of the powerful fortresses of the Polotsk land. According to the legend, Rogneda was tonsured as a nun under the name Anastasia, having founded a monastery on the mountain above the river. Documentary evidence of this has not yet been found.
There are two small rivers in Zaslavlje, the tributaries of the Svisloch, which are called Knyaginka and Chernitsa, which means nun. Local lore associates these names with Rogneda-Anastasia.
In 1986 the city was given the status of state museum-reserve.
The mound “Zamechek” is the oldest archeological monument in Zaslavl. It is located on a hill above the Chernitsa river. This place is popularly called “The Rogneda’s Grave”. The small site has a circular shape and is surrounded by a moat and an earth rampart. Excavations have shown that in the X century there was a fortified castle-town. It was the very castle, which was built by Vladimir for Rogneda and Izyaslav. In the XII century the princely residence was moved to the bank of the Svisloch, and the city fell into decay.
The burial mound of the end of the 10th – the beginning of the 12th century belongs to the ancient town. It is one of the largest burial grounds of the Old Russian period in Belarus. At the beginning of the XX century there were more than 300 mounds. Now about 50 can be seen.
From the settlement “Zamechak” opens a wide panorama of Zaslavl with the river Chernitsa. In 1992, a memorial sign in the form of a stone cross was erected on it.
The mound “Val” (Zaslavsky castle)
The mound “Val” or Zaslavsky castle is located on the right bank of the river Svisloch and is surrounded by the rivers Knyaginka, Chernitsa and Krylovka. In the XII century the princely residence was moved here from “Zamechka”.
In the XVI century Zaslavl belonged to the magnate family Hlebovichi. At the end of the XVI century Jan Janovich Hlebovich built a grandiose bastion castle in the style of the Italian school of fortification on the site of the old fortifications. The castle had two entrance ramparts – the Large and Small. The ramparts were about 8 meters high and reinforced with stones and bricks. The moats were filled with water by means of a complex system of ponds and water mills.
During the Russian-Polish war (1654-1667) the town and the castle were badly damaged. In subsequent centuries the castle was slowly destroyed. Only the remains of the ramparts and high ramparts have survived. From their steep slopes picturesque views of the city and its surroundings can be seen. It’s a favorite stroll for locals and tourists.
The Transfiguration Cathedral (Calvin’s Gathering)
A majestic temple rises in the center of the castle maidenhead. It is a former Calvin’s gathering, which was built in the 16th century by Jan Hlebovich, an adherent of the Reformed movement. In addition to the cultic, the temple had a defensive function.
The cathedral’s architecture combines Gothic and Renaissance features. Its powerful six-level tower with the hipped ending rises up to the height of 35 meters. The austere interior with a vaulted ceiling has never been painted. The crypt under the altar of the temple served as a family burial vault of Glebovichi.
Simple and expressive silhouette of the cathedral blends harmoniously into the surrounding landscape. It is one of the most striking and recognizable monuments of defensive architecture in Belarus.
The palace and park complex of the counts Przezdeckis
In the XVIII century the owners of Zaslavl became counts Przedeckie. In 1778-82 a huge palace and park complex was designed by an Italian architect Carlo Spampani. It included a palace, two park complexes – the Upper Regular and Lower Landscape, and small forms of park architecture. Individual old trees and the building of the palace Hermitage, which stood in the Upper Park, were preserved. It housed a library, an art gallery and a stage for theatrical performances.
The manor of Earls Przezdeckis was the economic and industrial center of the county. In Zaslavl there are still some fragments of surviving buildings.
The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary towers over the main town square. It was built in the 1770s on the place of a wooden church. The founder was Antoni Tadeusz Przezdecki. The intricately curved facade of the church in late Baroque style is topped by a bell tower and small towers on the sides.
Museum and Exhibition Complex of Zaslavl Museum Reserve
The museum and exhibition complex is located in a two-story building on the main square. In one of the halls is an exhibition of folk musical instruments called “Music of evenings”. On the first floor you can see the tapestries of modern Belarusian artists dedicated to Zaslavl.
The museum also hosts numerous temporary exhibitions on cultural and historical topics.
The ethnographic complex “Mill” (“Mlyn”)
The ethnographic complex “Mill” consists of four buildings: a steam mill (mlyn), a hut of zavozvodniks, a barn (sviran) and a smithy.
The mill is an example of industrial architecture of the early 20th century. It was built in 1910. Mechanisms are placed on three floors of the log building. The first engine of the mill was a locomotive, the boiler of which was fueled with wood. In the 30s it was replaced by a diesel engine, and in the 50s it was replaced by an electric engine. The mill operated until 1989. In the 1990s, it was restored and became part of the museum complex.
Near the mill, theatrical performances with the Miller (Mlynar), performances of folk folk ensembles and bat performances are arranged.
In 1932-34 several hundreds of permanent firing points – DOTs – were built along the western border of the USSR. Zaslavl was part of the Minsk fortification. In June 1941 some of the DOTs managed to hold out for several days, slowing down the German advance on Minsk.
Children’s Museum of Mythology and Forest
The rich mythology of the Belarusians is closely connected with the forest and its inhabitants. The exhibition tells about the beliefs and customs of ancient people, their attitude to nature, with which they tried to live in harmony. A visit to the museum will be interesting not only for children, but also for adults.