Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

how belarus came to be - Polotsk

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:01 PM
some free time in the morning to visit the 3 bayonets memorial, 3 columns structure with a forever flame burning in the middle. then we visited marc chagall's gallery. it is not a chagall museum as it only housed chagall's Biblical lithographis, all donated by private individuals. never a modern art fan and certainly not one of chagall's (his paintings look cartoonish to me) but what I saw in that gallery completely captivated me. he painted the entire biblical story. oh those colors! what enslaved me entirely were his 12 lithographs of the 12 hebrew tribes, each in form of a tablet. each depicted the character and temperament of Jacob's 12 sons. photos were not allowed, so I bought the book with images of the lithographs. there were many chagall's fans in the group, so we made a stop to visit the house where he was born and lived in his childhood. small 4 rooms house. He had 7 siblings. how on earth could they all fit in this tiny wooden house? bought a chagall fridge magnet that showed the adam and eve painting. I am now a fan.

Throughout the trip I've been trying to find out how belarus came to be and where its people came from. Finally the answer came in Polotsk. Polotsk was where belarus began. the oldest slav town in the region, the name derived from the polota river, a lituanian origin. the principality of polotsk became the powerful Polotsk Duchy in 10-13 centuries and self-governing in the late 1400's. throughout history it was part of the grand duchy of lithuania, later conquered by poland, then by Ivan the Terrible, then by the nazis and finally annexed by the soviet russia after WWII.

We are now in the furthest north of our journey. Polotsk was a small town by the Dvina river, steeped in history. the Red Bridge over the river Polota, commemorating the bloody battles of the Napoleonic wars, Saint Euphrosyne Convent with lovely frescoes inside, the Geographical Midpoint of Europe, the Monument to the Letter U, Monument to Vseslav Charodey, polostk first royal prince, the jesuit academy. it was raining hard now, as if to add more romance to the ambience. We climbed the wooden steps to the st sophie church and rubbed the boris stone that was supposed to make our wishes come true. let's see if it's true.

leaving history behind, we drove to the berezinsky park to spend the next 2 nights amidst forests and marshlands. I was expecting a very basic but rustic hotel. however, the hotel was a 3 story building complete with restaurant, lounge area with free wifi, and even a billiards room. The rooms were big with 2 large windows, TV, AC and a large bathroom. My room on the second floor faced the park. very comfortable and totally quiet at night.

We dinned at the hotel restaurant on very dry fish and white rice with absolutely no sauce, and a cold slaw as starter. The evening tea was at a table in front of the hotel, in the absolute darkness and quiet that I craved so much. another memorable travel moment!

Hippo's favorite Chagall's Biblical Lithographs:




Polotsk photos:

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