The historical city of Brest, located in south-west Belarus is another location well worth visiting. If visiting Belarus using a Visa on Arrival through Minsk airport, the city lies only four hours, via a direct train line, from Minsk Train Station. Additionally, if visiting the visa-free region of Belarus across the border from Poland, this city is included within this territory.
One of the main reasons for visiting this city is the history surrounding the Second World War. Heavy fighting took place in this city, with the Brest Fortress being the centrepoint. A huge siege took place here, with the soldiers stationed within the Brest Fortress holding out valiantly for a week despite the huge German ground infantry and bombing assistance from the Luftwaffe. This fortress has now been turned into a memorial site, with some of the original buildings restored, and several impressive monuments erected in dedication of the lost soldiers and their cause.
This was the main focus of our visit to Brest, however we also paid a visit to the impressive St.Nicholas Cathedral, and explored a separate abandoned fortress, both of which we have outlined below in addition to Brest Fortress.
Accommodation wise, hotels in the city are cheap. We stayed at the basic Inturist Hotel for €24 per night for a double room.
St. Nicholas Cathedral
The St.Nicholas Cathedral is located in the centre of Brest, and although quite small, its impressive facade and distinctive blue domes make this cathedral well worth a short visit. In order to visit the interior, you will need to wear conservative dress. For example, women must have their hair covered at all times inside the cathedral, and trousers cannot be worn! Do not worry though, skirts and headscarves can be borrowed from the hut to the left of the gate, which can be tied around you before entering.
Brest Hero Fortress Memorial Complex
This memorial complex to soldiers who died in the Second World War is one of the more haunting I have visited in Europe. From the moment you pass beneath the looming, concrete gateway shaped like a star, with booming Soviet-era war music surrounding you, the atmosphere is tinged with sadness. The sight of monuments and bullet-ridden buildings just add to this feeling as you wander the grounds of the complex with just this far off music from a lost era, the only sound accompanying you.
Just north of the memorial complex, lies a series of abandoned fortresses that seem to have been untouched since the Second World War. These now lay decaying and are fenced off to inquisitive visitors. However, several gaps in the bars/gates allow easy access. This particular fortress was particularly interesting with several winding tunnels leading to hidden outlooks over the surrounding moat.
Although the below photos are all from this abandoned northern fort, the western fort, which we missed at the time, looks well worth exploring too.