Travel To Belarus
In 2018, every visitor, especially US passport holders traveling to Belarus via Minsk International Airport, was permitted to enter the country at any time without problems, because there was no visa required for up to 30 days. And the 30 day period included the day of arrival and departure for tourism or business purposes. As a tourism ambassador, I took advantage of this extraordinary opportunity and visited the Belarus’s Brest fortress. At least when I arrived here, besides the main reason for my visit, I also enjoyed the much talked about sweets, both from Belarus and the Soviet.
On arrival, my first question to the tour assistant was: “Has there been a war here ? I asked because I saw evidence in this beautiful scene”. And the answer was simple. “Yes, that was during the Second World War of 1939” he said. That concluded my question about this. Brest, a city in Belarus on the Polish border, was conquered by Germany in 1939 during the Polish invasion. After this takeover, the fort was handed over to the Soviets under an agreement to split Poland between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
Germany was under the NSDAP regime of Adolf Hitler between 1933-1945. This vanquish surprised the entire Belarus country. The Soviet Union itself was also stunned because it was not a preliminary agreement. In 1941, when the same fierce Germans invaded Russia, the fort became one of the biggest battles in the early days of Operation Barbarossa.
The attack came without warning. Adolf Hitler, the man behind this invasion, started it without officially declaring war. It was like a fast lightning, and the garrison army wasn’t ready to be surprised that way, but they still fought. This fight lasted a week and the losses were so high. After the attack, all bridges were torn down at the bow, so the fortress lost its value. Because of this, the contingent who wanted to take control of the fort had time to overthrow their defenders. In fact, Brest Fort was completely isolated, surrounded by Germans, who asked their defenders to retire and surrender.
Far from the whole story, when I entered the castle, which was beautifully built for tourists, I saw several inscriptions on the wall, including “I’m dying, but I’m not giving up!” This was a touching writing for me that will perhaps, break anyone for a minute.
Several inhabitants from various countries around the world toured around this large and strange man-made creative building. This is where researchers, economists, military experts, and many people visit to know more about the Brest Fortress of Belarus. Due to the impact the fortress has made in terms of tourism, in 2017, authorities collaborated with the Russian state, to open three new Community exhibition spaces to accommodate more people.
This creation was funded by both, the Belarus Tourism Authirity (BelTA) and the government. The three new halls cost 319.2 million rubles and were destined to carry out the 16 activities listed in the project “Major repairs, restoration and preservation of the structure of the Brest Fortress” in 2018-2020. Brest fort authorities will soon add a new museum exhibition. Therefore visitors can visit the 98th Artillery Division recreation center from 1939 to 1941. Visitors will also have the opportunity to take a walk in the exhibition hall and basement.
The Brest Fortress also has a beautiful Courage monument that stands 33.5m high and tells the story of the heroic defence of the fortress through a series of carvings. There is an eternal flame which is guarded by 4 teenagers from the Pioneers Corps. There is also an Eternal Fire in front of the remnants of the former engineering department. Further into the Fortress, you will find the iconic Kholmsky Gate, with its bullet-riddled walls.
Excursions in Brest Fortress is best reached on foot. It is about a 30-minute walk from the centre of Brest city. Alternatively there is an hourly bus service from the town and you can stay in one of the many Brest rooms available as a long distance visitor.
As one of the most popular tourist attractions in Belarus, it welcomes nearly 40,000 visitors every year. If you are thinking of visiting, don’t hesitate and try it in this safe environment. In fact, all the big roads are wide and bright when its even gets darker. So you can feel safe even at night in the capital city of Belarus. Of course, safety is high but you are advised to take security precautions when visiting.