Brest is a city in the southwest of Belarus and the administrative center of Brest region. Brest is one of the most popular destinations amongst the fans of recreation and tourism in Belarus. History comes alive and the spirit of bygone days soar in this western city stretched along the banks of rivers Mukhovets and Western Bug. The benefits of the geographical position are represented by the important railway junction, a river port on Mukhovets and an important junction of roads situated in Brest.
Brest is a city with a rich and ancient history. It was first mentioned in 1019 and is the 4th city in Belarus to be mentioned that early – only Polotsk (862), Vitebsk (974) and Turov (980) were mentioned prior to Brest. Throughout its history the city repeatedly changed its nationality and it is now at the crossroads of the EU and the CIS, near the borders of three countries – Belarus, Ukraine and Poland.
Today Brest is one of the largest industrial, transport and economic centers of Belarus, with its residents proud of its city’s past and continue to honour the folk traditions.
Brest has a rich history full of substance that could be spoken about for days on end. Brest was first mentioned in chronicles in 1019 and for centuries since then has been one of the most important commercial, political, educational and cultural centers of Belarus. Preserved monuments of ancient architecture and urban development only confirm that.
The ancient name of Brest is Berestye. The town was first mentioned in ‘The Tale of Bygone Years’ in 1019. The date is connected with the fight between Prince of Turov and the Great Kiev Svyatopolk and his brother the Novgorod Prince Yaroslav (the wise) for the Grand Kyiv Throne. The name derives, most likely, from the word ‘elm’ or ‘bark’. In the early 17th-20th centuries the city was called Brest-Litovsk, from 1921-1939 ¬¬it was called Brest-over-Bug and as of September 1939 the city just became known as Brest. Archaeological studies suggest that Dregovichi originated on the territory of Brest – East Slavic tribal settlement of the 11th -13th centuries. The Archaeological Museum ‘Berestye’ was created on the settlement territory.
In the 11th century Berestye was a shopping center and an ancient Russian fortress on the border of Poland and Lithuania. Berestye was at the crossroad of two ancient trade routes. One such route was along the Western Bug, from Galich and Volyn to Poland, the Baltic States and Western Europe whereas the other route was along the Mukhavets, Swamp, Pina, Pripyat and Dnieper that linked Berestye with Kiev, Black Sea, and the Middle East.
After the partition of Poland in 1794, Brest and the surrounding regions began a national liberation uprising. In 1795, Brest Povet became part of Slonim, in 1797 it was part of Lithuania and since 1801 to date it is part of the Grodno province of the Russian Empire.
The War of 1812 swept through Pribuzhie with devastating consequences. Brest and the surrounding towns were repeatedly passed from hand to hand, first to Napoleon then to the Russian troops and vice versa. In the 1830s at the confluence of the rivers Bug and Mukhavets, construction of the Brest Fortress began which later became a part of the 9 fortresses defensive belt erected on the western borders of the Russian Empire. This seemingly giant fortress construction wiped out the ancient Brest, but at the same time it gave work to thousands of local farmers and artisans promoting the development of the road network. However, in the period from 1941 to 1944 the city was occupied by German troops and in 1944 it was acquired back by the Soviet troops.
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An excursion in Brest includes visits to the most memorable sights and museums. The most remarkable hallmark of the city is undoubtedly the Brest Fortress. Shrouded in many legends and heroic ballads it attracts tourists from all over Europe. During a visit to the historical memorial the tourists are able to touch and see the military guns, the monuments to heroes, valuable museum artifacts and take in the sound of the famous Levitan speech. What is particularly worthy of a mention is the truly unique archaeological museum ‘Berestye’ offering tourists a trip into an ancient city located several meters below the ground.
For some relaxing time one can take a walk along the main artery of the old Brest pedestrian soviet street. The combination of the well-preserved buildings of past eras with their memorable architectural forms, a cozy atmosphere and multicultural crowd is as if one is roaming some ancient European city. Each building is enriched with some form of history from various events that have taken place within, to past owners as well as landmark historical moments. There is one particular building located on Ordzhonikadze Street that was once used as a brothel up until 1939. A sightseeing tour of Brest will leave visitors with many long lasting impressions of this historical city.
There are also many churches worth visiting in Brest such as the Holy Cross Church, Church of St. Anthony of Padua and Resurrection Cathedral to name but a few.
There are also 16 different clubs as well as 3 cinemas and various cultural events that one can indulge in. The city holds regional and international festivals such as the International theater festival ‘Belaya Vezha’, festival of the Belarusian national cinema, the Festival of Dramatic Art ‘Teatralniy Kaleydoskop’, the International Festival of Architecture and Interior Design ‘Pod krishey doma’ and the International Festival of Classical Music ‘Yanvarskie musikalnie vechera’.
Your journey to Brest will surely be remembered for a very long time, and it is inevitable that one would want to visit this city again to soak in the inexplicable atmosphere of the city one more time; it is a city at the crossroads of cultures that would happily accommodate tourists again and again.
For tourist accommodation there are a number of motels, hotels, wellness centers, various farmsteads and cottages with access to sauna, fishing spots, bicycle tours and various locations to prepare and indulge in a barbeque.
Modern Brest is a major industrial and cultural center of Belarus. It is responsible for around a quarter of total production of the area having the most advanced electrical and electronics industry. Among the machine-building enterprises of the city there are electromechanical and electrical plants, gas equipment plant ‘Brestgazoapparat’ (trade mark “Hephaestus”), A company called ‘Tsvetotron’ that is responsible for the production of micro-electronic components and the factory ‘Brestselmash’. There are also various enterprises of light industries such as a hosiery factory, carpet factory, knitting and garment manufacturing. Productions of light industries are represented by ‘Kovri Bresta’, ‘Elem’, sewing and shoe factories. In Brest you will also find a meat processing plant, alcoholic beverages and brewery plants.
Brest has the largest free economic zone of Belarus. About 65 companies worked on FEZ territory in the beginning of 2010 and this included the production of food, equipment and materials for road markings. The total volume of accumulated investments then amounted to about $ 620 million.
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