It’s been several posts since we’ve seen a grand square, so let’s see another one. Even though Victory square (Peramoga square) is oval.
The obelisk was put up in 1954, on the tenth anniversary of the liberation of Minsk, and an eternal flame was lit in front of it in 1961. Heads of state, newly-weds and so forth do the appropriate things here (lay wreaths, have themselves photographed), though I didn’t see any.
At the very top is a red Victory order marked “СССР” (ie SSSR). There’s elaborate carving near the base. I wish I’d remembered to see if there are any traces of how (as claimed by Nigel Roberts in his guidebook to Belarus) “[Stalin's] profile was quietly and without ceremony transformed into Lenin’s ear”.
There’s an elaborate subway (in the British sense) under the square. Its centre, and one entrance to it:
After a sudden downpour:
Having just seen one imposing square in Minsk, what better to do than look at another imposing square in Minsk? This one has recently been renamed Oktabrskaya square. A small pyramid shows that it’s at the very centre of Minsk:
And here you have it, Oktabrskaya square:
One of the star buildings is the Palace of Trade Unions, a 1954 masterpiece in the proletarian Corinthian mode.
But the greatest wonder is the Palace of the Republic (2001), whose front, side and rear are shown below.
If it all looks a bit depopulated, people do walk around.
And no, we haven’t finished with grand squares yet. But let’s take a short break from them.
From the northwest, along Lenin street, we turn right into the famed Nyezhavisymosty, Nezavisimosti or Nezalezhnasti avenue or prospect, of which more later. Right on the corner is a department store that was once similarly famed, GUM. And from a distance, it’s still an imposing building.
GUM has seen better days, to be sure. The guidebook Minsk in One Day waxes lyrical about how wondrous it was shortly after it opened in 1951. Its staircase seems not to have been changed much, but to have become more decrepit. The interior deserves a respectful restoration — until which time, I’ll respectfully refrain from photographing it. But the details too of the exterior can still impress:
Along Nezavisimosti as far southwest as we’ll go, to the square of the same name as the avenue: Nyezhavisymosty, Nezavisimosti or Nezalezhnasti (independence) square. Minsk in One Day says that it’s “450m by 150m, an area of 7 hectares”. How high it ranks probably depends how you measure squares, but (i) this one is enormous, and (ii) it’s just one such enormity in Minsk.
Yes, that is a seven-metre statue of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin there. No need to go to Grūtas Park if you’ve been to Belarus. (And as if Lenin weren’t enough, there’s even a statue to Dzerzhinsky — who indeed still also has a Belarusian town named after him.)