Victory square, an oval in Minsk

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.

Like Nezavisimosti square and Oktabrskaya square, Victory square is on Nezavisimosti avenue. Among the three, this one is the furthest to the northeast.

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”.

Victory monument

Victory square, Minsk

Victory monument

Victory monument

There’s an elaborate subway (in the British sense) under the square. Its centre, and one entrance to it:

subway under Victory square

Victory square

After a sudden downpour:

Victory square, Minsk, after the rain

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Oktabrskaya square

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:

centre of Minsk, Oktabrskaya square

And here you have it, Oktabrskaya square:

Oktabrskaya square, Minsk

Oktabrskaya square, Minsk

Oktabrskaya square, Minsk

Oktabrskaya square, Minsk

One of the star buildings is the Palace of Trade Unions, a 1954 masterpiece in the proletarian Corinthian mode.

Palace of Trade Unions, Minsk

Palace of Trade Unions, Minsk

Palace of Trade Unions, Minsk

Palace of Trade Unions, Minsk

Palace of Trade Unions, Minsk

But the greatest wonder is the Palace of the Republic (2001), whose front, side and rear are shown below.

Palace of the Republic, Minsk

Palace of the Republic, Minsk

Palace of the Republic, Minsk

If it all looks a bit depopulated, people do walk around.

Oktabrskaya square

And no, we haven’t finished with grand squares yet. But let’s take a short break from them.

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GUM and Nezavisimosti square

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.

a window of GUM, Minsk

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:

GUM, Minsk

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.

Belarus State University (etc), Nezavisimosti square

Belarus State University, Nezavisimosti square

Government House, Minsk

Government House, 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.)

Church of St Simon and St Helen (etc), Nezavisimosti square

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