Going to Belarus was an obvious choice for my travel destinations since I LOVE soviet architecture and Iconography, but what I have discovered over there was more than that!
I spent 5 days in Minsk taking advantage of the 5 days free Visa ( I understand now it has been extended to 30 days). Minsk was a great surprise with so many things to do and see but the biggest surprise was how super friendly and welcoming the locals were; now I wanna go back again and discover more of Belarus.
On arrival at the Airport, you have to purchase a compulsory travel insurance, since I didn't have my travel insurance documents handy I decided to buy it and it was only 6 EUROS for the whole 5 days. The process of entering the country was very easy and there were no forms to fill. Getting to central Minsk it is also very easy and very cheap with the public bus that connects the airport with the city center. during my stay in Minsk, I mostly traveled around the city by Metro ( this is recommended to see some interesting soviet style station including one with a Lenin statue!) or by foot.
These are the places that I have enjoyed the most:
ZAIR AZGUR MEMORIAL STUDIO
This was definitely my favorite place. Many statues created by Zair Azgur, a Belarusian sculptor active during Soviet times. the main room is full of all sort of statues including many of Lenin and Stalin. this is definitely something not to miss if you are visiting Minsk. Not super easy to find as it is in a normal residential area; I have walked there from Gorky Park. Exact location below.
Many, many, many examples of fantastic soviet architecture everywhere in the city! these are the one I liked the most!
Street art was an amazing surprise! I wasn't expecting to see any piece of street art in Minsk but there is a road full of giant pieces taking over old factories and buildings. A great contrast compared to the rest of the city. These pieces are on Oktjabrskaja street, not to confuse with the square with the same name.
BELARUSIAN STATE MUSEUM OF THE HISTORY OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR
This is another must see during a visit to Minsk, not only for its historical importance but also for the amazing victory dome at the top of the building!
This square has a standing Lenin statue in front of the building of the government. There are many urban legends telling that you will be stopped by the police or security guards if you take any pictures there. I took many and nothing luckily happened, maybe I was just lucky.
Reaching this square is very easy with the metro that also has a sculpture of Lenin on the staircase and a big Hammer&sickle sign in between the platforms.
MOUND OF GLORY
This incredible monument is difficult to be missed especially if you are going to the centre of Minsk from the international airport. This is a monument commemorating soviet soldiers during WW2. Getting there by public transports is not super easy; Best way is to get a taxi to stop there on your way back to the airport or join an organised tour. I went with a local, Julia, that I met in Minsk so not only I get to see the Mound of Glory but I got a great insight of what is life in Belarus these days! Totally worth a visit. Some tanks are also parked at the bottom of the complex.