Part Two: The sights

This post contains a sight seeing tour from mid October through the present time.

We begin with Mir Castle and Nesvizh Castle/Palace.  We took a 1.5 hour bus ride from Minsk to Mir.  Mir Castle was built in the 16th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

Two of the towers are open to explore, there is a small museum, and even a dungeon!  The kids loved climbing the VERY steep and narrow stairs and exploring all the passageways. 

From Mir, we took a (kinda sketchy) taxi ride to Nesvizh.  Our driver didn't know English, but we managed to communicate about America, Belarus, and Soviet roads.

Nesvizh is sometimes called a castle and other times a palace.  It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the late 16th century.  

It has passed through many hands and been partially destroyed several times.  After WWII it was even used as a sanitorium.  It was recently restored, however, and is BEAUTIFUL, both inside and out.  It has a fairly extensive museum inside and many interesting architectural details.  

(yes, it was a bit nerve wracking to have the kids in a place like this!)

The princess's bedroom!

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I've lived most of my life in parts of the country that experience four seasons.  I've always loved the bright fall colors, but I don't think I have ever appreciated them as much as this year.  Perhaps it is the result of being in the city, which makes the beauty of nature stand out even more.  Perhaps it is simply more beautiful than any other autumn I have seen.  Perhaps it is because I was in the mindset of wanting to see and experience as much as possible during our short time here.  Whatever the reason, the leaves were beyond description for several weeks!

The picture on the left is at the park right by our apartment.  The one on the right is at the Museum of Stones, about a 15 minute walk from our apartment.  We discovered the park of stones because a random person on the train from Vitebsk told us about a library that happened to be right across the street.  On the way back from the park, we stopped at a nice sit-down restaurant where we got huge amounts of food (including drinks for all of us and a fancy cappuccino for me) for less than $25.   Belarus: beautiful and cheap! #reasonstovisitbelarus
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Last weekend, the weather looked surprisingly nice (meaning 48-49 degrees Fahrenheit and not raining), so we made a spur of the moment trip to Grodno, a city in western Belarus, close to the Polish border.  Compared to many Belarusian cities, Grodno was not destroyed as much during WWII, so it does not have the Soviet feel that a lot of the country has.  Instead, it feels much older and more European.  I really enjoyed the architectural style of the buildings and the garden details.

The bottom right picture is a sundial!
I'm simply in love with this part of the city that lines the river and a smaller stream.

View from our hotel room at night and in the morning

Firehouse and old fire watchtower

This cathedral was built in the 12th century.  It has undergone several renovations and restorations, yet retains much of the old structure.  I love the combination of wood and brick.

This is known as the "Od Castle." It's not overly impressive on the outside, but we could climb around on the ruins of part of the castle that was destroyed at some point.  The museum was also very well done.

Farny Catholic Cathedral (also called Jesuit Cathedral and St. Francis Xavier Cathedral).  We were able to attend part of a service here (standing room only), but since it was in Russian and Polish we didn't understand much.

The Chabad Center, a memorial at the location of the Jewish Ghetto. 
Mikayla has become very interested in the Holocaust since reading Number the Stars, Letters from Rifka, and several other books, as well as seeing all the WWII monuments around Belarus.  

Sometime soon, I'll post about some of the other fun stuff we have done and seen, including pictures of us!  

We have a countdown of sorts going on now:

  • Less than six weeks until we go home...yay!
  • Less than six weeks to see everything else that we want to see...oh no!
Thanks for following our journey and allowing me to share our experiences with you!

Abby was trying not to cry. It was a rough day for her already. Just before this picture, after climbing around on the castle ruins, she told me her leg itched. I brushed it off since she was being a grouch.  Then Mikayla (wearing gloves)  picked a plant and asked me to smell it, and it stung my nose! It hurt/stung/tingle for a good twenty minutes! So yeah, Abby is grumpy and stung by some weird plant. #reality