The blend of cultural and historical heritage makes the Royal City of Hrodna one of its kind in Belarus. It has always been a pioneer it various areas: the first botanical garden, the first pharmacy, the first cinema and the first newspaper in the country…these are not vaporings, rather the sign of special status and spirit. Cozy and well-groomed Hrodna is the right place if you want to dive into history or just take a break.
Though each of listed below places deserves a special article, I have just tried to give a brief summary of Hrodna’s must visits.
1. VYTAUTAS’ CHURCH
A parish church of St.Mary was initially founded by Vytautas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, in 1389 and became the most important architectural dominant of the city. Survived from several fires, under the reign of Stephen Báthory was rebuilt in Stone; in XIX century the church became orthodox, then during the Second Polish Republic it was rebuilt into catholic again. And in 1961 it was blown up, the monument in the part is the only reminder of it.
2. FRANCIS XAVIER CATHEDRAL
The Cathedral is named after the founder of Jesuit Church, who also became the first catholic missioner to Japan. The cathedral’s clock tower is the most ancient still working one in the Eastern Europe. Being the church of Jesuit monastery earlier, the Cathedral was granted a title of ‘Minor Basilica’. Three rows of wooden figures in the altar are breathtaking.
3. CATHOLIC CHURCH OF THE HOLY CROSS FINDING
The oldest functioning catholic church in Hrodna, belonging to Bernardine Church.
4. THE DRAMA THEATRE
The Theatre is just across the Bernardine Church. Regardless its young age (built in 1977-84 yy), this futuristic building has already become one of the city’s symbols.
5. BASILIAN MONASTERY AND THE NATIVITY CHURCH
The first church building was already here in 1506. The church was several time on fire, changed hands from Uniate church to Basilian monks and to Orthodox; was severely damaged during the WWI. In 60’s the land and property of the monastery were expropriated, and the church building was used as motorcycle repair hangar! In 70’s the museum of atheism and religion was here, it was a spot for concerts and exhibitions.
6. THE KALOZHA CHURCH OF STS. BORIS AND GLEB
The priceless monument of the Black Ruthenian architecture. Built more than eight centuries ago, it has almost survived without severe damages. Only in XIX century its walls were partially destroyed as a result of bank slough. Nevertheless, the bank was reinforced and the church rescued. Its light interior seems to bring the spirit of those times through the centuries with ease.
7. OLD AND NEW CASTLES
Initially built in the XI century Old Castle was the first defensive building. Later in XIV century it became the major residence of Vytautas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, who rebuilt into gothic stone castle.
The New Castle, located just against the Old one, was built later in XVIII and served as summer residence for Polish kings. In 1793 the last Sejm (parliament session) of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place here: it silently accepted the second partition of the state between Russia and Prussia.